A powerful being named Thanos tears the Marvel Universe apart in pursuit of the six Infinity Stones that will allow him to cull half of the universe. The only thing standing in his way is Earth’s mightiest heroes…And a few other guys from out of town.
The brothers Russo had a herculean trial to accomplish: to tell a story of two dozen characters, spread across the world and beyond, all united in one epic, galaxy wide struggle against a formidable foe. For the most part they succeed. As we are whipped around the MCU I did find myself delighted at each new territory or familiar setting but always wanting more. Sometimes story strands would be left for a considerable amount of time and I would have trouble remembering where certain characters were and what events had happened to whom.
This may be the most aesthetically pleasing marvel film to date. Beautiful conceptual design and almost flawless special effects render the universe in vivid and striking colours. A particularly somber sequence at the beginning builds ominously to the first arrival of one of Thanos’ ships.
Character is Marvel’s forte and it’s very gratifying to see some of the Universe’s stranger characters bond. One of the tenderest moments comes when Thor sits down for a heart to tiny heart with Rocket Raccoon. This might be Hemsworth’s finest moment in the all mighty role.
The huge ensemble cast all manage shine, however briefly, in their roles. Josh Brolin brings pathos to the terror of Thanos and definitely becomes the greatest villain in the Marvel canon. His occasional tenderness renders his malice all the more upsetting. The animators have captured a great deal of nuance from Brolin’s performance.
These were the moments I relished, and although I found the action enjoyable, as there were palpable stakes this time and a formidable threat, I did find that the fireworks occasionally detracted from the humanity. Characters will once again go flying through buildings and everything will become weightless but at least I cared for the characters swept up in the maelstrom. Some decently choreographed fights and inventive use of powers are thrown into the mix to keep things interesting, though I do like my Doctor Strange action to be a little stranger. On the plus side, the power of Thanos is delightfully macabre and intimidating.
The theme of the film is that of weighing lives. Characters are frequently put in situations where they must make a terrible sacrifice for a greater good, and Thanos’ goal is, to him, a necessary evil. These dilemmas are often heart breaking as characters are forced to betray their love for each other. I was reminded of the dilemma at the heart of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar – weighing the lives of loved ones against the entire world.
The Russos and Marvel have opted for a gutsy ending, one that I imagine will be reversed at some stage in the near future. But there’s a tremendous emotional weight to its bleakness, with certain moments playing out with haunting sincerity. Those hoping for genuinely affecting character deaths will not leave disappointed, just devastated.
Many warned of Marvel fatigue in the run up to the release of the epic, but whilst watching the film I felt quite the reverse. The richness of the Marvel Universe and its characters constantly had me yearning to see more. The film urges you to reflect upon a decade of consistently stellar blockbuster entertainment. The stories that could be told in this ever expanding universe with the sheer number of memorable and lovable characters could be indeed be infinite. Above all else, Infinity War urges us not to feel fatigue but excitement. Every strength that Marvel has is on display here. In doing so it delivers on the promise of that first post credit sequence at the end of Iron Man, ten years ago; a whole universe of heroes.
4.5 / 5