|Worth seeing:||for superhero fans who are up to date with the epic and entertaining, spectacular and narratively nonsensical Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise|
|Director:||Anthony Russo, Joe Russo|
|Featuring:||Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Bettany, Peter Dinklage, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Zoë Saldaña, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Idris Elba, Karen Gillan, Letitia Wright, Stan Lee, Tom Hiddleston, Vin Diesel|
|Released:||26th April 2018|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
An all-powerful super-villain from the planet Titan, Thanos (Josh Brolin), is on the prowl for six magical stones to slot into a gauntlet, which will empower him to kill half of the population of the universe – we’re running low on natural resources, you see, so he’s actually trying to do us all a favour.
Still, what we need is a team of galactic superheroes to try to stop him. Unfortunately, for those who haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers are no more – but this could just be the impending disaster that persuades them to put the band back together.
As it happens, some of these so-called “infinity stones” are in the possession of the former Avengers anyway, so it’s in their interest to try to protect them from evil personified.
The yellow Mind Stone is embedded in the head of the artificially intelligent hero Vision (Paul Bettany), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has the green Time Stone in a locket around his neck and Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has stolen a box called the Tesseract, which contains the blue Space Stone.
Tony Stark’s Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Peter Parker’s Spider Man (Tom Holland), Wanda Maximoff’s Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Natasha Romanoff’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evans), Sam Wilson’s Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Hulk’s Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) are among the countless heroes who – despite the Avengers having been closed down – still have their costumes and gadgets close enough at hand to reunite to save the universe.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Like its predecessors in the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is a film that defies criticism. With more heroes and villains per second of screen time than you’d think could be possible, anyone who wants to see their favourite characters bashing the living daylights out of their foes will be in heaven, or wherever heroes go when they die – if they can die.
Forget any semblance of a coherent story – this is about as complex as you could imagine – particularly if you haven’t seen every single one of its predecessors, and that includes not just “Avengers” branded films but all the others in between. Unless you’ve seen Captain America: Civil War, you’ll have no-idea why Tony Stark is almost surprised to see that he still has a number for Steve Rogers in his old flip-mobile – you’ll be wondering where Captain America’s helmet and shield are; unless you’re up to date with the Thor sub-franchise, you’ll have no idea where the Norse god’s magic hammer and Samson-like hair have gone; if you missed the recent Black Panther, you’ll be confused when one of the groups of freedom fighters head for the central African state of Wakanda and you won’t quite be clear what’s so special about the King; anyone who hasn’t seen a Guardians of the Galaxy film won’t have the first clue who Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) peculiar band of space travellers are.
Anyone who hasn’t done their homework will have a lot of catching up to do, but anyone who cares about the plot will be up to date. They also probably won’t mind that there’s not much logic to the way the heroes team up to fight their own little battles here and there and how most of the superhero powers seem to be little more than being good at fighting and being lucky enough to have state-of-the-art technology built into their cool suits and gadgets. There’s a sense in which all the technology takes the magic away, as genuine supernatural abilities seem to be rather few and far between. In many of the confrontations, it’s as if the punch-ups just go on like a post-pub street-brawl until the directors get bored and shout “OK, that’s enough – you can fall down now.”
For the target audience, who’ve been immersed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2008’s Iron Man, Infinity War is a superhero wet dream – most of the biggest names they could wish for, doing exactly what they’d wish them to be doing – Iron Man flying, Spider-Man swinging, Doctor Strange bending time, Vision walking through walls, Thor thumping, the Hulk hitting, Captain America fighting, Black Widow fighting – in little avenging teams, in locales around the Galaxy, as they do their level best to stop the fearsome and utterly ruthless Thanos collecting his jewels, level by level, like a galactic video game.
Given the amount of (comic book) violence on display, it’s gratifying that there’s as much humour as there is – chiefly from snappy banter between Iron Man and Spider-Man and an emasculated Star-Lord trying to come to terms with Thor’s majesty.
Whether you understand what’s going on or not, it’s a lot of fun and for a film that clocks in just fractionally under two and a half hours, there’s never a dull moment, with so many characters fighting each other and for screen time, and so many get a look in – to varying extents – that it’s only when it’s finished that you might notice an absent friend – but rumour has it he’ll be back for the conclusion of this storyline next year.
Which brings me to one particular problem with Infinity War, moreso than most of its predecessors across the franchises; not only does it require a lot of background knowledge to fully understand it – best gleaned from having seen earlier films – but also, rather than have a self-contained ending, the denouement is very much a cliff-hanger that will require you to stick around for another twelve months to find out what happens next. Casual Marvel viewers might feel a little cheated, the extent to which you need to have seen earlier films, and you’ll have to see the next one, to get the most out of this episode.
Almost more cruel than making us wait a whole year to find out how this epic, visually spectacular, whizz-bang punch-up ends, with such a big budget film, involving so many production staff, it seems to take a year just to get to the end of the credits, where you know you’ll catch the teaser to the next episode; I remember the days when this used to be tucked in earlier, ahead of the end title crawl, but now they make you wait until the bitter end – to find out how it doesn’t end.