Review: “Avengers: Infinity War”

There’s almost no point in writing a review of “Avengers: Infinity War,” Marvel’s uber-ambitious movie juggernaut has built momentum behind itself for 18 movies over the course of a decade, and moviegoers made their decision whether or not to see it some time ago. Let’s be honest: all you really want to know is if it is worth the price of those pre-paid tickets. For the most part it is, though lofty expectations and pet theories are bet left at home.

‘Infinity War’ isn’t a life-altering experience that changes the language of film, but it is an ass-kicking popcorn superhero flick that delivers the spectacle fans have waited years for. It is also one filled with game-changing consequences for its characters, and enough heart-rending “what the hell?” moments to keep viewers locked in debate until “Avengers 4” drops a year from now.

The plot is an uncomplicated one, mainly out of necessity — after all, there are roughly three dozen characters involved. In a nutshell: Thanos (Josh Brolin), the purple-skin villain whose been lurking behind the scenes of the MCU for the past several years, has finally fast-tracked his plan to obtain the six Infinity Stones (singularities older than universe itself, each able to control an aspect of existence) in order to use their combined power to remove half of all life in the cosmos from existence in a twisted act of population control.

This, of course, draws the attention of our scattered heroes (some of whom possess said Stones) who race against time to stand against an unstoppable foe. To say much more would be to veer into spoiler territory. There’s been much debate and theorizing in regards to who lives and who dies, and how exactly our heroes prevail; let’s just say much of it is wrong and leave it at that.

It’s a lot for one movie to tackle, and directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely largely succeed at the thankless task of bringing a great many moving parts together into a largely working whole. That they are able to balance so much character business while careening from one action sequence to the next is impressive, and they do it smoothly enough to make Infinity War‘s daunting 160-minute running time fly by.

That said, it’s largely action and character-driven, though with so many characters in play there’s no way to avoid the necessity of some getting far more attention than others. There is time made for some inspired pairings though, such as the unlikely soft bromance of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and the battle of goatees egos between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The Russos and Company made the wise choice of putting Thanos at the center of the storm; it is largely his movie, and we get deep dive into his dark psyche. Marvel still struggles to deliver compelling villains, and this is one of their few victories on that front.

There’s plenty of Marvel comic relief as well, which often seems out of place against the film’s the dour atmosphere. This is arguably Marvel’s darkest tale to date, their “Empire Strikes Back” if you will. Much like that movie, it leaves hanging by our fingernails, stunned and in anticipation of the next chapter.