Contains Potential Spoilers (never can be too careful!)
Ten years and eighteen films on from 2008’s Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut brings us their most ambitious project yet, one which sees The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy and a whole bunch of others attempt to prevent the unstoppable Thanos (Josh Brolin) from collecting all six infinity stones and unleashing a devastating cull on the universal population.
Seeing as how this lil’ flick is the culmination of ten years of MCU films, essentially Avengers Assemble multiplied by ten, there are scores of familiar characters which means a whole load of brand new fun interactions between them all and a fair helping of banter, giving us that typical humour that we’ve become accustomed to as well as plenty of heart and soul from many of them, with a whole load of self-sacrificing going on all over the place. But what’s most impressive is that all of them, even relatively minor characters, seem to actually contribute something important along the way and everyone gets their moment to shine; at one point in time, there may have been a worry that Infinity War would be too crowded, too overstuffed with characters but with this latest instalment, there’s a perfect balance and they all have an equal share. Even Dr. Strange’s awesome cloak gets some important stuff to do. (I’m STILL confident that it’s related to Aladdin’s magic carpet somehow!)
All actors are perfectly comfortable in their roles by now and looking at a few of them (because we ain’t got time to mention them all!), Tom Holland still shines brightly as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, showing off his pop culture knowledge and new Iron Spider suit complete with brand new features, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a very important part as Dr. Strange, having improved his American accent since last we saw him (but never using the mirror dimension – which would have been a huge help!), Elizabeth Olsen’s accent is still a bit wobbly as Wanda/Scarlet Witch, the Guardians are still excellent together, Thor hasn’t lost his newfound Ragnarok sense of humour, and Mark Ruffalo spends far more time as Bruce Banner than as Hulk. As I say, all are comfortable in their practiced roles and deliver the all thrills and all the feels in spades. No Hawkeye or Ant-Man though.
There are also some unexpected surprises when it comes to the cast as Infinity War briefly brings back an important MCU villain and has a GIANT film star put in an appearance.
But literally towering above them all is the biggest, baddest MCU villain yet: the Mad Titan himself, Thanos – self-proclaimed judge, jury and executioner of all existence. From start to finish, he shows himself to be undeniably formidable, dangerous and just a little bit scary as he bests all our favourite heroes but along with all of that, he has proper motivations for wanting to cull the universe’s population and he truly believes that what he’s doing, while harsh, is just and fair. He also shows a vulnerable side at various points as we briefly learn about his past and focus quite a bit on his relationship with Gamora, his favourite daughter, getting to develop his character far beyond the obvious “I want the pivotal McGuffin plot device thingies so I can destroy things for no reason” kind of villain and actually show some depth. But even though he demonstrates clear emotion, Thanos clearly ain’t no softie and throughout the film, he proves himself to be perfectly threatening, imposing and virtually unstoppable and in the main role, the great Josh Brolin is perfectly cast, stealing the show from pretty much everyone.
In terms of writing and story, the dialogue starts off a little expositional to start off with, perhaps seeming more like fan fiction, and the film takes a necessarily generous amount of time to reintroduce all the characters and to set everything up, which makes certain sections of the film a little slow but as it starts to move into its endgame, the story gets tighter and more confident and ends up delivering all the thrills, the classic Marvel laughs and a whole load of darkness.
Because Infinity War is by far the darkest Marvel film yet as from the very first scene, characters start dying and all seems immediately hopeless even at the beginning and things don’t get much better as the film moves forward. But what’s great is that we’re never entirely sure of whether it will all work out or not and there are numerous instances where it seems as though the day will be saved, only to be proven horribly wrong soon afterwards as it all leads to an incredibly bold, shocking and jarring ending that will surely stay with you for a good long while, leaving you to wonder just what the future holds for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. An ending that’s kind of like a grown-up version of Toy Story 3‘s incinerator scene.
Because whilst Civil War may have wussed out on character deaths . . . I’m just going to stop right there.
Helming this behemoth of an adventure, the Russo Brothers once again deliver another top quality Marvel film, proving themselves to be indespensibe assets to the franchise. As mentioned before, they manage to give all characters an equal share and they also get the overall tone just right, juggling the trademark humour and the darkness expertly. The technical elements are all above board as there are no bad effects (though some of the action scenes are a tad frantic and the scene with the aforementioned giant movie star was a bit disconcerting) and the directing duo prove themselves adept at confidently telling this huge cinematic tale, building characters and letting them all contribute to the story, as well as directing the exciting action scenes efficiently (especially the tense, unpredictable and truly nail-biting finale), resulting in an admirably well-rounded cinematic event that’s very entertaining to watch and one where we reeeeeeally care about the various characters.