Film review: ‘AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

One of the favourite novelties of Marvel Comics is the superhero team-up edition where most of the big-name heroes depart their usual narratives to unite against an enormous muscly super villain. That’s the premise of the latest Marvel movie, the epic Avengers: Infinity Wars, a grand finale of sorts but not the end of the Avengers movie juggernaut.

Here, Thanos, a Hulk-sized meanie with a steroid abuser jawline begins a ruthless quest for nothing less than control of the universe. To gain this power he needs six gems known as the infinity stones each of which controls a specific universal property such as time or reality. As he rampages across the universe in search of the stones, he encounters and pisses off most of the Marvel characters we’ve encountered in the last 10 years including the Avengers, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Doctor Strange. Causing the biggest nerdgasm for fans, though, is the fact that, as the various characters unite to battle Thanos, the Avengers world collides with Guardians of The Galaxy.

This film’s goal is to be big and through the efforts of a nation’s worth of CGI technicians, Avengers: Infinity War contains the franchise’s most massive battle sequences, most ludicrously big spacecraft and the most wide and diverse canvas as the battles rage from US cities, to the plains of Wakanda to desolate alien planets. The vast array of heroes and alien beings makes for an at times exhilarating fight between science, muscle and magic. Thankfully, amid all the Wagnerian fury and bloodless destruction, directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War) insert a sliver of pathos and humanity often from unlikely characters; this is one of the few special effects fantasy epics of recent times to actually contain any emotion.

Unfortunately, there is inconsistent toughness aplenty. Thanos is meant to be the most powerful being in the universe and while he’s able to body slam the Hulk and cause a planet to crumble with the wave of his hand, too often he’s slapped around by puny humans. As with all fantasy films we’re often left wondering why the various beings don’t draw on all their phenomenal powers and instead choose to punch it out. When, at one point in this film, a character produces a gun, suddenly hordes of Thanos’ evil minions look astonished before being mown down.

Amid all the mayhem the characters weave in some typically droll humour with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments courtesy of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony stark and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. Fortunately, this film doesn’t try to take the piss out of the whole concept the way Thor: Ragnorok did. Superhero films are hardly acting showcases but despite essentially voicing an animated character, Josh Brolin brings some depth and nuance to Thanos. Overall, the film does a reasonable job of balancing screen time for its many characters although it often feels like a Marvel taster platter and a few heroes such as Black Panther appear a little too briefly.

Drenched in CGI, Infinity War looks a little cartoonish and as with all the Marvel films would have benefited greatly from some realism and grit. Still, the candy-coloured phantasmagoria of the Guardians universe remains a stunning piece of modern cinematic art and makes a striking contrast with other vistas such as the sunlit Savanah of Wakanda.

For those wedded to Marvel lore this film probably has some seriously controversial moments and in the context of the vast Marvel franchise, the film’s ending (which I wont spoil) is a little dubious.

Still, for those who enjoy outrageously over-the-top CGI space operas and ripped characters in questionably tight outfits pummelling each other, Avengers: Infinity War will more than satisfy.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Super hero/ Action/ Adventure/Science Fiction/ Fantasy.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo.

Release date: 26th Apr 2018.

Running time: 149 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

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