Avengers: Infinity War review: 10 years of waiting, delivered

Infinity War is Thanos' movie through and through. He rules the film with his imposing presence and overwhelming power. YouTube/Marvel Studios.

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan

2008: Marvel comics, then bereft of many of its A-listers, decided to conduct a little experiment - use a relatively obscure character, Iron Man, to see if a connected film franchise could work. Handing the reins to Jon Favreau, the infant Marvel Studios, led by Kevin Feige laid the foundation stone to one of the biggest film franchises known to man: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fast forward to 2018, and there are but a few moviegoers who have not heard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The infant Marvel Studios has since grown into the biggest moneymaking juggernaut of Hollywood, amassing a worldwide fan-following, limitless fan theories on the internet and a boat-load of cash for everyone involved in the films.

'The Avengers' was the first culmination of Marvel's grand ambition, which gave us but a glimpse of what was to come: Thanos, the Mad Titan, and he; or as he puts it - 'destiny' - has finally arrived, bringing with it the harbinger that either promises - or threatens - depending on your point of view, to change the formula of Marvel Studios.

Thanos, the last survivor of a formerly affluent planet called Titan, is out on a mission: to collect and unite the six Infinity Stones, primordial artefacts of near-limitless power, to wipe out half the living population of the universe. In his eyes, he sees what he is doing as a mercy upon those who he inflicts his will, with only the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy standing in the way to his endgame.

The film, directed by the Russo Brothers, Marvel veterans who brought us 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and 'Captain America: Civil War', return to helm 'Infinity War', bringing with them not only their visual expertise but also a perfect balance of strong storytelling and managing an event film filled with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Even for veterans like the Russos, however, building a film with at least 30 characters, many of whom we've known for much of our time and new faces alike, especially after the events of Civil War, was an insurmountable task. As such, they went with the only logical choice: Split them up and give them a different task. This, they achieved with perfection - each of the groups rise to their respective challenges perfectly, bringing with them a degree of seriousness necessitated for a film of its scale, and the trademark Marvel levity. It gives newcomers like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange much-needed ethos while addressing the fallout of 'Ragnarok', particularly for Thor, who's had all of a few minutes to take in all the loss he has suffered.

Marvel films are, though not unjustly, treated as light-hearted popcorn films where the stakes are rarely ever concrete or lasting. Infinity War, however, takes that idea and kicks it out the proverbial window in the very first seconds of the film and keeps that same pace up throughout its mammoth 156-minute runtime. Leading right after the end of Ragnarok, which sees the Asgardian refugees making their way to Earth as they are ambushed by Thanos' ship, the film goes out of its way in refusing to relent and give us breathing space as it bombards the viewers with scene after scene of destruction, death and a general sense of chaos as three teams desperately attempt to outrace Thanos to the Stones in hopes that his plans can be thwarted while Tony and his posse take the battle straight to Thanos in hopes of ending his conquest.

The direction is crisp, as should be expected of the duo that brought us The Winter Soldier and Civil War. However, gone are the days of muted colour palettes: Infinity War goes back to the classic Marvel colour palette of embracing the variety of colours the world has to offer. The film is also the first of its kind having been filmed entirely in IMAX, allowing the film to consume the entire screen space it gets. The action, at least the wide-angle parts, are easy to follow and a treat to behold. However, the Russos seem to have missed the mark yet again on the close-quarters action, with it being either difficult to follow or simply too fast to notice.

On the visual effects side, there are no flaws to report. Weta, ILM, Double Negative and about a half dozen studios coming together in what is perhaps the biggest VFX effort in recent days since Avatar. Every single set piece is meticulously crafted to perfection, from the Sanctuary's assault on the Asgardian ship to the Wakandan battle, much care has gone into crafting the innumerable CG characters, ships, planets and effects.

The audio, too, is top notch. The film balances use of the original Avengers theme, audio and noise - of which there is a lot - perfectly. Battles and banter essentially pop out with audio that stands and sticks out.

Also of note is the villain problem. Marvel has long been criticised for wasting any villain that is not Loki, killing nearly everyone before and since. With the recent batch of films to have come out, including Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which have not been party to that criticism, Marvel seems to have finally figured out the key: Make the villains human and relatable. Thanos is exactly that. For a mass-murdering, borderline genocidal alien, Thanos shows a remarkable array of emotions. Rage, sadness, happiness and respect are all out in the open to see as Josh Brolin brings out the MCU's Mad Titan through motion-capture, making the already terrifying and imposing villain oddly comprehensible, yet paradoxically even more enigmatic. The Russos said that this is Thanos' movie through and through, and I don't doubt it. He rules the film with his imposing presence and overwhelming power.

Similarly, the Black Order - the quartet of Children of Thanos, are all equally menacing and true to their comic book counterparts and do not disappoint, be it in screen presence or in depth. While all of them have little development beyond getting Thanos his Stones, they are also humanised in the way they talk, mock and fight the Avengers on their hunt.

Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of Marvel Studios' command over the imagination of people and the global box office. It is, however, not the end, but feels more like a set up to an even bigger, more weirder conflict. A word of caution, though: The film is not for the light-hearted, even though it's not an 'A' rated film. The world has paid over $15 billion in cold cash to Marvel to bring us Infinity War, subject it to some incredibly high standards after the build-up, and Marvel has succeeded at meeting the challenges set to it. Go watch the film on the biggest screen possible, anything less is likely an injustice to it.

Score: 4.5/5

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Avengers: Infinity War review: 10 years of waiting, delivered


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