At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Avengers: Infinity War

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Superhero/ Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Peter Dinklage, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Winston Duke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, William Hurt, Terry Notary, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Carrie Coon, Michael James Shaw, Jacob Batalon, Idris Elba, Colbie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson; Voices of: Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper/ Runtime: 149 minutes

I feel it is safe to say that through the work that they have managed to accomplish the past 10+ years, Marvel has managed to earn the audience’s trust. Indeed this is for no other reason than the fact that the studio has managed to consistently bring to life movies that are not only comical, intelligent, and actually daring, but also ones that manage to embrace and the rise above in equal measure their comic-book inspired roots. Indeed from the moment Iron Man first arrived in cinemas back in 2008, the nearly 20 movies that have come after it have not only managed to develop the superhero film as its own distinct genre and brand, but they have also made it so that even the critics can appreciate the work being done to the point that 2018’s Black Panther was actually up for the kind of awards that only art-house flicks and very rarely nowadays commercial films manage to see. Yet even with all of that success to their name, I can definitely understand how audiences were still quite on edge when it came to Avengers: Infinity War. Indeed this was a huge movie that had been at least a decade in the works, and its plot placed like I-Spy clues through the 18 films that came before it. It also I might add has over 3 dozen characters, each bringing their own distinct qualities to the table while also uniting as one in an attempt to stop Grimace from the McDonald’s Commercials’ homicidal brother from annihilating all of existence. To say it sounds ludicrous, and has the vibe of impossibility then you would not be that far off from the truth.

Yet it is that aspect that helps showcase just what a phenomenal accomplishment this film truly is. Indeed Avengers: Infinity War really truly is intelligent yet gutsy movie magic when operating at the peak of its powers. Indeed this is the kind that will make your jaw drop and your heart break and quite often it will do both at the same time. It is also phenomenal proof on a enormous scale of what Marvel has been claiming all this time: that any effects and action sequences you utilize must be there at the behest of the narrative. Indeed for all the blockbuster-worthy awe that this movie comes equipped with, the movie works above all because it chooses to let itself be rooted by the characters before anything else. It is in that regard therefore that I think it is also safe to say that Avengers: Infinity War is one of the finest hours for pure movie magic in a long, long time.

The plot is as follows: Thanos that gosh darned diabolical intergalactic menace that is capable of much in the ways of both death and chaos has finally started to begin the hunt for the six Infinity Stones that have spotted throughout the MCU. Utilizing these with the aid of a gauntlet he wears on his hand will result in this mad with power being possessing total power over the entire universe thus allowing him to bend it and reshape it in any way that he would like. Having already recovered the stone that was stowed away on Xandar by the time our story begins, Thanos manages to then brutally retrieve the stone from the Tesseract and, having learned that there are 2 more stones on Earth, sends his minions to retrieve them so he can continue in his goal of ensuring that he is able to stricken the entire universe with his will. Suffice it to say then that this is perhaps the gravest threat that the universe has ever found itself facing and, despite The Avengers being divided, it is going to take every single hero that we have been introduced and which we have come to know and love in the MCU to join forces and rid the universe of this threat otherwise it literally could mean the end of all of existence as we know it…

Now right from the word go it becomes absolutely obvious that none of the film’s creative team behind the camera are intrigued in any way in the concept of playing this film safe. Indeed in a lot of ways I think the majority of superhero movies are really devoid of such stakes for no other reason than the fact that even though the hero might go through hell you also are 98% sure that they will get to film’s end alive. In this movie however I can promise you that there is absolutely zero guarantee of that on display in this film. Indeed I say that because in the first fifteen minutes of this film, we as an audience are quickly and horrifically shown the horrific and sinister measures that Thanos and his minions are willing to go to in order to accomplish their “dream”. Indeed the concept of death as well as the ideas of real and painful loss and what it truly means to make the ultimate sacrifice, is absolutely instrumental to the story that propels this film forward, and trust me when I say that this movie is a whole lot better because of it.

Now I do feel that it should be known that this film is not entirely a doom and gloom affair. Indeed what makes Avengers: Infinity War so intriguing and phenomenally well-done is how manages to balance out the ever shifting mood of the film. Indeed when the movie is comical, and trust me when I say that does tend to happen in this, it is actually quite funny. Not only that, but this is a movie which takes immense pleasure in bringing characters you never would have thought you’d see either share screen-time together or actually engage in banter with. Indeed from Peter Quill becoming jealously fixated on his team admiring the otherworldly physique of Thor to Bruce Banner being both charmed and intrigued by Shuri’s equal levels of sass and intellect, it really truly is a quite wonderful tongue-in-cheek style that is used just as often in the most iconic comic books that Marvel has ever done and that’s because Marvel brilliantly has come to realize that when you can utilize humor perfectly you can also use it to make an audience truly care when they need to most. Which I should now let you know that this film assuredly does in aces. Indeed there are quite a few heart-wrenching yet also human instances that are placed all around this film from the quasi-sorta parent/child relationship that Tony shares with Peter Parker to the passionate love that is at the heart of either Wanda and Vision or Peter Quill and Gamora’s relationship. Indeed in quite a few ways, I definitely feel that this is a movie which also serves as a showcase to the very human ability not only to love one another, but to love passionately and beyond any and all reasoning thus making that a more potent Marvel viewing experience than possibly ever before.

Which of course now brings us to the big bad himself: Thanos. Now in a less potent or powerful movie going experience, Thanos would not pack nearly as much of a punch as he does in this. In this film on the other hand, it may surprise you to learn that what Thanos intends to do is actually topical especially when it comes to discussions that have been had about how the planet is becoming horrifically populated to the point of collapse. Thus, despite the fact that Thanos is clearly loonier than a looney tune, there is a train of logic running throughout the insanity. It also, I should add, makes a lot more of the heart-wrenching curves in his relationships with both Gamora and Nebula even more tragic and fear-inducing because of it. Indeed it is a feeling of fear that as the movie rolls on just continues to grow and grow. Yet it’s not just the story that makes Thanos a fantastic character. It also takes a perfect blend of both astonishing pathos as well as absolutely astonishing, seemingly-realistic work from the visual effects department to fully bring this iconic comic book villain to life. Indeed, from a performance perspective, it is completely extraordinary how, despite not looking in any way that an audience could identify him, Josh Brolin manages to provide audiences with a powerhouse turn that is intense, mesmerizing, and terrifying all rolled into one no matter if he is talking in terms of his personal philosophy or roaring and showing his immense power in the middle of an epic battle. As for the work done by the effects department it is really amazing to see this character be brought from the page to the screen through the utilization of mo-cap technology that has become more advanced than we could ever have imagined possible. Indeed with all of these elements actually coming together into perfect harmony, it is little wonder that this character is able to capture the audience’s attention every single time he is on screen.

Now I feel you should also know that, in the majority, Avengers: Infinity War also does right by the multitude of heroes that are brought together in this film. Indeed The Russos did an amazing job at bringing together both several different points of view as well as character arcs in the 3rd Captain America movie, and they manage to make magic happen here as well even when dealing at least two times as many characters as Civil War. Indeed even the supporting characters in this with the smallest amount of screen-time are given narrative moments that matter. I guess it also doesn’t hurt that Marvel has always managed to bring onboard legitimately great actors to play parts that might be seen otherwise as goofy. Yet even with a cast as giant in size, talent, and heart as this one there are some characters that stand apart from all the rest. This, of course, must start with the unquestionable Godfather of sorts of the MCU Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/ Iron Man. Indeed, from a pathos perspective, a lot of this hinges on yet another remarkably layered performance from Downey. Indeed he manages to portray every single beat of Tony’s reservation-based determination as well as his soul-entrenched trauma as his arc sees him taking the fight to Thanos in outer space even though all the data seems to indicate that it’s a one-way trip. Downey however also finds himself capably paired up with another fantastic performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange who manages to blend both vulnerability and cunning into a truly intriguing performance. That and his fight sequences are truly nothing short of astonishing. Finally we also get riveting work from Chris Hemsworth who finds himself given the ability to really bring onboard the larger-than-life comedic style he employed in Thor: Ragnarok while also attaching to it a rough-around-the-edges and also immense sense of grief for what he has lost both because of Thanos and because of the galaxy as well. Yet even though these are standouts, this is nevertheless a cast for the ages and all do an absolutely magnificent job.

Now in a movie that is operating with everything that this film is, there will be some ingredients that sadly don’t quite mix as well as everything else. Indeed there are a few characters within that you may have thought would be at the front of everything going on, including a couple of the OG Avengers, that are more part of the background, but don’t worry: I think the next Avengers should fix that. Also while the film goes from action set piece to action set piece, the majority of them are absolutely amazingly done in regards to the cinematography department, there are also a handful of instances that are slightly off due to dealing with the fact that they revolve around preventing Thanos from closing his fist and unleashing the full power of the stone-equipped gauntlet. Yet these are just minor hiccups in a machine that, for 99.9% of the time, is extremely well-oiled and efficiently functioning, but it’s Marvel so I can’t say I’m surprised.

All in all regardless of a few tiny little quirks, Avengers: Infinity War manages to be yet another jewel in the Marvel crown. Indeed this is a film which manages to keep up the now decade-plus tradition of keeping up an extraordinary narrative that is truly immersive and which also manages to give the characters and their audience the respect that they truly deserve. Yet even though it gives them that respect, it also by the same token refuses to compromise in any way that would things easy. This is made evident in no other way than the end of this film. Indeed if you think the way this film opens is gutsy just wait till you how it all wraps up. I say that because this film’s final ten minutes will most assuredly terrify and scar you at the same time; indeed it really truly is a choice that is equal parts brilliant, ballsy to the max, and so astonishing that audiences most assuredly will want to see where the MCU could even possibly begin to fathom going from here. On a scale of 1-5 I give Avengers: Infinity War a solid 4.5 out of 5.