Movie Review: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) – The Third Act of 10 Years of Storytelling
Avengers: Infinity War is an unprecedented movie that is the end result of 10 years of storytelling; and it needs to be viewed as such.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to a head with a movie that is the end result of plot lines, threads, character development and world building that started 10 years ago. Avengers: Infinity War is everything that could have been expected from an idea of that caliber, and the execution of such a concept is brilliantly done by directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
If You’ve Been Living Under A Rock For The Last 10 Years
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a collection of movies and stories that exist in the same universe. While superheroes are regularly introduced and feature in their own individual movie origin story, every few years, they team up in an Avengers movie with the other characters of this world. This allows the stories to be interconnected. The long term appeal for audiences is that their favourite heroes never really go away after one or two movies, but rather continue in stories that intersect with one another over years.
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Through the last 18 MCU films, a common thread has been woven; that of an intergalactic tyrant known as Thanos, and his plans to conquer the universe through the powers of 6 gems that have been spread throughout the universe. These gems have prominently been featured as the main plot for movies like Captain America: The First Avenger, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, and the first Avengers movie. Their connection to Thanos has been largely established through post credit sequences.
10 Years LaterJosh Brolin as Thanos in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War uses those threads to establish Thanos as the larger bad guy of this entire universe, who has now come to destroy everything; and Earth’s mightiest heroes band together to try to stop him. Infinity War itself is a massive ensemble cast of heroes, characters and exposition-heavy action sequences that try to balance storytelling with visuals, all the while avoiding gratuitous or filler content. And the movie succeeds in spades, in my opinion.
This Has Never Happened Before
The movie itself attempts to pull off something that is unprecedented. It’s something we’ve never seen before. The traditional 3-act structure only loosely applies to Avengers: Infinity War as the first two acts can be considered to have been covered in the previous 18 films leading up to this one.
And for such a challenging concept, the Russo brothers do a wonderful job of giving character a place within the story, and creating a film that is engaging, riveting, heartfelt, hilarious and decidedly overthrows the entire status quo of this universe. For now.
The movie features everyone firing on all cylinders. I can’t think of any one actor not bringing their A-game to these proceedings. The stand outs of Infinity War have to be Tom Holland, as the brutally young boy on a team of adults, trying to keep up with very grown up stakes around him. Paul Bettany gets an opportunity to play Vision without the heavy visual effects and make-up, and it’s brilliant. Bettany gives Vision an actual character in his human form, with a nervous charm, and romantic angle that really makes me wish we got more of him in that form.
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The major take away of the movie has to be Josh Brolin’s Thanos. Despite being the antagonist, Avengers: Infinity War really is Thanos’ movie. It’s an origin story about the villain that sheds light on his motivations, reasonings and even his feelings of love, loss, apprehensions and the burden that he feels he carries. While he is clearly supposed to be the bad guy, the screenwriters give us enough back story of the mad tyrant, to give pause. Not agree with, but understand.
Avengers: Infinity War has massive helpings of humour, mostly in the form of all these individual and highly likeable superheroes meeting one another for the first time. Misunderstandings and initial introductions provide amazing moments of levity, during otherwise tense moments. The most notable of which is every interaction between Thor and the Guardians Of The Galaxy and The running gag of a 17 year old Spider-Man part of a team of middle aged men.
The HeartChris Hemsworth as Thor, Bradley Cooper as Rocket & Vin Diesel as Groot in Avengers: Infinity War
But contrary to some reviews, Infinity War isn’t all one liners and laughs. The movie provides incredibly touching moments, that also blossom out of seeds sown in previous films. There are enough moments of loss, love, friendship and danger to amp up the stakes than ever before seen in the franchise.
The effectiveness of Avengers: Infinity War on its loyal audiences is solely due to the fact that we’ve lived with these characters for multiple movies, taken part in their lives over the past decade. Similar to how a long running TV series makes their characters feel like part of an audience’s family, the MCU established this through its long running franchise as well. Therefore the loss of characters, and the dramatic impact of the on-screen events works that much more.
A Third-Act MovieAction sequence in Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War is 2 hours and 40 minutes of the third act of a story that’s been 10 years in the making. And in that sense, it’s a dramatic and action packed ending that provides moments of excitement, sadness and shock. And while it is a magnificent piece of cinema that very much resembles the culmination of comic book storylines that’s been building up for years, it may not be the most accessible film for casual audiences coming into the franchise cold.
Not For Casual Audiences
Many of the moments, jokes, and character highlights, are all reliant on prior knowledge of these stories and characters. However, this is not a complaint. This was expected from day one of Avengers: Infinity War, when it was announced that the movie would feature 40+ characters. It may be possible to watch and somewhat enjoy the movie without prior or comprehensive knowledge of this Cinematic Universe, the gut-punches, punchlines and full dramatic effectiveness of everything that happens is better consumed by knowing these characters before hand.
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Sure. Many may not like this concept that The Russo Brothers, and Marvel Studios try to pull off or disagree with this model of filmmaking that builds on yers of storytelling, ending in an almost 3-hour long climax. However, it would be naive to have thought that Infinity War was going to be a self contained film that exposits core concepts of the world, introduces every character anew to audiences that have no experience with the shared universe. It would also be impossible for any filmmaker to do so.
Avengers: Infinity War cannot be reviewed or experienced as a movie that has the traditional 3-act structure. The first act of the movie is more catch-up of the events that occurred in the universe prior to. But the overall film itself is the entire conflict that’s been coming to a head in the last 10 years. It’s a great film that is able to balance the action, excitement, humour and heartbreak that comes with a story that’s been unfolding for years, and is executed in the best possible way for a concept that prior to, has never been done before.