Spoiler-Free Review: Avengers: Infinity War

I don’t know what to say. Really. There’s little to say, without giving too much away. So here’s the spoiler-free gist: The Avengers – and their superhero allies from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe – engage in what may be their deadliest showdown of all time. Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Spider-man, Captain America, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and others too, join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Gemora, Groot, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, etc.) to defeat a mighty alien named Thanos who aims to eliminate half the universe. Thanos’s misguided plan for population control rests on his ability to collect all six brightly-colored “Infinity Stones” that can manipulate elements of time, space, reality, power, the mind, and the soul. If Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeds – all hell breaks loose, and a lot of people die. In other words, the stakes are higher than high for this epic action adventure sci-fi fantasy flick.

Avengers, assemble! And bring reinforcements! Victory is not guaranteed.

Avengers: Infinity War picks up where (the much lighter) Thor: Ragnarok left off but draws – to some degree – on the 18 MCU movies released over the past 10 years (starting with Iron Man in 2008). Do you need to have seen them all to fully appreciate Avengers: Infinity War? Not exactly; but it certainly helps. This is not a film for MCU virgins. It pummels the audience with more than two-and-a-half hours of Marvel-ous touchstones: non-stop action, quippy dialogue, mass destruction, super-egos, pathos, cynicism, sarcasm, heart and sacrifice. As always, the comic relief comes from the interaction between the mismatched heroes, many of whom are just meeting for the first time, whether it’s in the U.S., Wakanda, or on a distant planet. This particular war is taking place on several fronts. That’s what makes Avengers: Infinity War different from its predecessors – and for me, somewhat less enjoyable. There’s a lot to process — from the very first frame, to the end of the obligatory post-credit teaser.

I’m conflicted about the massive MCU crossover. I’ve enjoyed watching the Avengers evolve– individually and collectively– as well as the GOTG characters (with their pop culture references and killer playlists). But the mash-up threatens to make plot points and story threads even more difficult to track for anyone who doesn’t obsess over the comic books and the annual reveals at Comic-Con. Is there an increased risk among the general population for Superhero movie fatigue? Perhaps. Yet Black Panther continues to slay at the global box office and expectations remain high for the likes of Deadpool 2.

The cast list for Avengers: Infinity War includes a who’s who of the MCU, including the three Chris’s – Hemsworth (Thor), Pratt (Star-Lord) and Evans (Captain America); Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man); Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange); Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther); Dave Bautista (Drax); Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow); Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Bradley Cooper (voice of Rocket Raccoon); Tom Hiddleston (Loki); the list really does go on and on.

Will they all be back for what is currently referred to as “Untitled Avengers Movie” aka “Avengers 4”? You’d need a ‘psychic’ infinity stone to figure that one out. One thing’s for sure: Infinity War ends in one giant cliffhanger that will likely generate plenty of divisiveness and debate, in addition to massive anticipation for that next Avengers movie, scheduled to hit theaters on May 3, 2019.

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