FILM REVIEW – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. With Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Robert Downey, Jr., Zoe Saldana, many, many others. Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language and some crude references. 149 minutes.
If you’re fully engaged in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is the movie you’ve been waiting for all along. Almost everyone is in it: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Captain America (Chris Evans), and the crew from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And that’s barely scratching the surface.
This is also a movie that you’re going to want to see as soon as possible because there are so many surprises and twists that this review couldn’t contain all the potential spoilers if this reviewer was inclined to reveal them… which he is not. This move is the payoff for several years of releases in which characters appeared in each other’s films and hints were dropped about the big battle yet to come. Well, here it is.
The bad guy here is Thanos (an impressive CGI version of Josh Brolin), a supervillain who has been gathering the “Infinity Stones” each of which has a unique power. When he completes the set of six, he will be able to fulfill his ambition of galactic genocide: wiping out half of all life so that the other half may survive and thrive. The stones are scattered across the galaxy, although two are on Earth: one in possession of Dr. Strange and the other embedded in Vision (Paul Bettany). Much of the movie consists of various groups of heroes battling Thanos or his nigh-invincible minions.
While the effects are as stunning as the numerous SFX houses could make them, much of the fun comes from the juxtaposition of these various characters. Thor interacting with Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), who refers to the sentient raccoon as a squirrel, or Tony Stark/Iron Man trading insults with Dr. Strange, is one of the reasons the Marvel movies aren’t dark, leaden lumps like “Justice League” (and that’s painful to admit for this DC Comics fan).
It comes down to two climactic battles, one of them in Wakanda, where Black Panther presides. This movie may achieve a similar box office success to the year’s earlier Marvel release, but poor Wakanda really takes a beating. And then there’s the ending, which is daring and will lead to intense debates among the fans while making us anticipate the next film. It should go without saying that one does not leave a Marvel movie until the long, long credits sequence is fully complete.
It’s interesting to note that when George Lucas released “Star Wars” in late May 1977, industry observers questioned why what was obviously a summer movie was being released so early. Now we get these “tentpole” movies in late April. “Avengers: Infinity War” is as much a fantastic amusement park ride as a cinematic experience, with an engaging cast doing an incredible job of not getting lost in the proceedings and, in fact, making us actually care what happens next.
Yes, summer is here as far as Hollywood is concerned and, as this movie demonstrates, the Marvel juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.