Thursday, 26 April 2018

Avengers : Infinity War

Thanos is a fierce briary fella altogether
It's hard to believe there was once a time when films made by Marvel Studios didn't exist. It was a simpler time, a time of Bebo and Blackberry phones and Nelly Furtado. People like to moan about them but they are here to stay now. They are a pop culture phenomenon and an odd one at that. It's very unusual that a series of films actually improves as more are made. The vast majority of franchises decline in quality but Marvel are breaking the mould, in part by embracing the inherent silliness of it all. Superhero films are supposed to be fun and Marvel are realising this in spades. Look at the most recent ones. Ant-Man, Civil War, Spiderman : Home Coming and Thor : Ragnarok, each more entertaining than the last.

Which brings us to Avengers : Infinity War.

Thanos is slowly collecting Infinity stones from all around the Universe. Once he has all six he will have the power to decimate life on every planet. After escaping from a deadly encounter with him, Bruce Banner returns to Earth and warns the remaining Avengers of his existence, not knowing what has happened in his absence. Meanwhile Peter Quill and his Guardians Of The Galaxy are on the way to a distress signal in the vast depths of space.

This rocked. I really enjoyed it. A bloated and slightly dull mid section aside it just hit that spot perfectly. It's easily the best of all the 3 Avengers film so far. After 10 years of films we know the characters intimately and require none of the introductions or explanations that slowed down the first Avengers film. The seriousness of Age Of Ultron has also been done away with and lessons learned from the dull big bad as well. Yes Thanos is a CGI baddie but Josh Brolin makes him genuinely terrifying and when you learn the true extent of his plans......well he makes all other Marvel baddies look like Gargamel from the smurfs. Crap bad guys have always been the weak point of this franchise and finally we get one who actually gives us a real sense of danger and a feeling that not all of our favourite heroes will see the end credits. These are some of the biggest stakes we've seen so far and it gets dark. But not all dark.

It's fun. Oh man it's fun. The introduction of the Guardians of the Galaxy is a masterstroke. The strange pairings of characters, the extreme clash of personalities and some serious misunderstandings lead to some of the best belly laughs in the series so far. Animal species mistakes, pissy teenage trees, an ego that gets extremely bruised after an encounter with a quote "Pirate Angel", a royal prank, an extremely talkative character rendered speechless by some outer space stupidity and much more. One small Edinburgh based sight gag gave me a nice little giggle too. Oh and a very funny bit of stunt casting is just perfect. The vast majority of the fun comes from the Guardians characters but it's the Guardians stuff that gives the film it's biggest problem too.

The mid section of the film sees our heroes dispatched all around the galaxy to find various people and solve various problems. Here the film feels like it changes from an Avengers film into something different. It's just all a bit dull and slow and dark and instead of spending time with people we've grown to know over 8 films we're with characters we don't know as well. Their screentime feels a bit unearned and comes at the cost of lesser time spent with characters like Steve Rogers or Black Widow. In a film with this many characters some were bound to get short shrift and it's a surprise it was them. Thankfully all the dullness is blown away by an extended climax that's genuinely worth waiting for. Truly epic chaos ensues and some seriously game changing moments occur. It's goose bump inducing stuff.

These films have been accused of lacking soul but that's a bullshit cop out. A lot of emotionally charged stuff occurs here and only a misery wouldn't be moved. A young man clinging to a friend, a tearful destruction, a long overdue hug between old buddies, the tears of a father, dust. Of course this stuff only works because the cast are selling it so well. There isn't a weak link in the film and considering there are 20 plus characters vying for attention that's no mean feat. The stands outs for me were Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark (this surprised me as I usually can't hack this character) and Josh Brolin as Thanos. Brolin especially really sells his character but all three are required to do some genuinely heavy lifting. 

A few issues aside, this is a thoroughly entertaining blend of insane action, great laughs and fantastic special effects all held together by a massive cast giving their all. If you enjoyed the other films in the franchise you'll probably love this one. Oh, make sure you stay til the end of the credits too. I cannot wait to see what happens in part two of this story.

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