SBox Recommends: Avengers 3 – Infinity War (Movie Review | NO SPOILERS)

Note: SBR never spoils. You are safe. Enjoy! (To see my spoiler-filled thoughts on this film, click here).

There was an idea… to gather a series of known and unknown comic book characters… and see if they can become something more… so they can make the big bucks… that James Cameron never could.

Welcome back to SBox Recommends, where our motto is “every film has its fans”. Here I see a movie, review it, and then find out who will like it most and who will like it least.

On May 2, 2008, the first film in a series soon to be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released in theaters. And from that one film based on a minimally known comic book character, starring an unlikely lead star, at a vision of a no-name producer and a comedy director, it grew into a massive and beloved network of films that both captured audiences’ hearts and changed Hollywood forever. The journey that Disney, Marvel Studios, and Kevin Feige have led us on has brought us to many interesting places in a decade’s time. We’ve seen men learn to fly, conjure spells, and shrink down to the size of insects. We’ve witnessed gods coming down from the sky and soldiers rising up from the ice. And we’ve come to learn that heroes can come from the most unlikely of places, whether it’s a teenage kid, a master assassin, the king of a “third world” nation, a giant green rage monster, or a talking raccoon.

And what has all of this been leading up to? Why, what else but a massive event? Not just a movie. An event. A huge cinematic moment whose goal is to take 10 years of storytelling, character development, and world-building and channel it all into one epic story. Does it succeed?

To answer that question and live up to this monumental occasion, I will be doing something very special for this review by creating two versions of it: this spoiler-free post for those who haven’t seen the movie yet and a special spoiler-filled post which you can visit by clicking right here. This movie is simply too big not to go all-out for, so why not take the opportunity to do something special.

(Remember, the following review has NO SPOILERS).

Story

Avengers: Infinity War is an action/superhero movie inspired by the 1991 comic book “The Infinity Ganutlet” by Jim Starlin and Marvel Comics. It is the third movie in the Avengers series (the first in a two-part story) and the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A phenomenon that goes back to the beginning of all creation, six, concentrated, all-powerful fragments — representing space, time, reality, power, mind, and soul — were created and scattered across the cosmos. Those who are both lucky enough and powerful enough to posses even one of these Infinity Stones can possess unparalleled power based on that specific stone. However, if one possessed all six stones at once, that person would control all of existence. And no one has ever come closer to that goal of unrivaled power than Thanos the Mad Titan, who wishes to utilize the stones to wipe out half of all life in existence with a mere snap of his fingers. Alerted about this impending danger are earth’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, who must join forces with allies from not only all over the globe, but also from across the galaxy, to face off against their biggest threat yet.

Writing

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Let me preface this by saying that this will be one of the hardest reviews I’ll ever make. Why? Because one wrong move and the film could potentially be ruined for everyone involved, and I will do my absolute damnedest to make sure that doesn’t happen. However, this will come at the cost of going into specific details. That’s why I’ll proceed by being as vague yet effective as possible. Wish me luck!

Now, it’s no secret that Avengers: Infinity War is breaking new ground by its very existence, mostly due to its sheer volume of characters. You may have heard before that this movie consists of around 76 established characters from across the franchise in addition to a handful of new characters. While that number can easily be whittled down to about 40 characters that can be named off the top of one’s head, that’s still a heavy narrative feat trying to cover that many characters faithfully in the span of 149 minutes.

Alas, this unenviable task fell on the shoulders of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who quite frankly kill it here. Not only does this movie successfully give adequate shine to every character on its cast list. They also accomplish it in a way that grants the film flow, flare, depth, thrills and intensity.

And how exactly did they accomplish this? Basically, they did it the only way they probably could: by dividing and conquering. Actively make sure that, while all paths do cross in a way, there’s never a moment where too many characters are occupying the same scene together. This gives Infinity War an almost anthology-like feel where groups of characters are on separate adventures all leading to a similar goal. It’s a war film in every sense of the word, because each unit is contributing to the war effort in a different way.

So, while not all characters end up interacting with each other per say, it does lead to a scenario where unique character interactions do still take place; albeit in a way that gives every character a unique motivation for being there. One of the things I loved about this movie was that every single character had a reason for taking part in this war. Doctor Strange is fighting for a different reason than Starlord is, and Captain America has different ambitions than does Thor. Plus, each story is fascinating enough to stand on its own, meaning there’s rarely a dull moment no matter who you’re following. Consequentially, however, this also results in a scenario where the story can become uneven at times. Not every subplot transition is as seamless as you’d hope, since oftentimes one subplot is kind of left lingering as you jump somewhere completely different for a while. This can become distracting to some, although for every not-so-good transition there’s about 2 really good ones right around the corner.

The film also establishes a consistently dire and suspenseful tone throughout. Think of the tone of Civil War but even less optimistic. Not to say that this movie is completely without its famous Marvel wit, but this can certainly be a pretty dark film at times. It’s a disruptor for the MCU’s formula for damn sure, as well as a prime example of (no offense to DCEU fans) what Justice League should’ve been. This is exactly how you balance light with dark in a team-up film. Infinity War is neither insultingly chipper nor overly depressing, instead portioning out its tones in a way that best fits the current scene. That way the light scenes where characters are joking around become like breaks between its starker moments. (Pun not intended).

In short, this is a film that handles its peculiar nature and themes incredibly well. Every character gets their time in the sun for the most part (something I’ll go more into in the Acting category) with really fascinating arcs that keep you invested. It manages to pace itself pretty well, though it’s not without a few hiccups in terms of transitioning between subplots. Due to its source material and place in the franchise, it’s allowed to do very unique things narratively (which I unfortunately can’t go into without spoilers). Chief among them are the film’s darker tone — one that is neither too brazen nor glossed over. On the whole it’s a really well put together package.

Action/Effects

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Marvel has a pretty good track record of putting excellent effects in their films. Perhaps nothing to write home about in most cases, but they’re always good enough to the point that you don’t think about how Iron Man isn’t really flying and characters like Hulk and Rocket aren’t really there. Infinity War is no exception to that rule. In fact, certain CG effects here are even better than you could imagine.

The effect most people have been talking about is how realistic Thanos looks, and that’s no exaggeration. I know the trailers don’t make it seem like it, but between now and then the effects have been completed to the point where you don’t question how a nine-foot, bald, purple man whose accessorizing game is on fleek (yas queen!) is standing next to human characters. Plus, the way that they use motion-capture to get Josh Brolin’s face on the character is absolutely flawless. There’s only one character who’s CG design is even more seamless than Thanos, but due to spoilers I can’t get into it here.

I also really dig the effects used to demonstrate the abilities of the Infinity Stone (especially the reality and power stones). The Black Order’s designs are also pretty good, as are other new designs such as the new “Iron” Spider-Man suit, Tony’s updated armor, and Teen Groot.

As for the action scenes, I’m afraid I can’t go too into them in this review. However, I can guarantee you that they are all as epic, exciting, and exhilarating as you’re hoping for. With this being an Avengers film (to the nth power, mind you) this film takes full advantage of every character interaction which is now possible, creating power combinations that go beyond fans’ wildest wet dreams. There are approximately 7 separate action sequences throughout the movie, and my favorite among them might be either the one in New York or the one on Titan. (For the record, those aren’t spoilers since they’re shown in the trailers).

Acting

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Relax! I’m not going to go over every single character’s performance in the movie one by one. That would make this review longer than the Bible, and I don’t want to waste your time. If you’ve seen these characters’ particular Marvel movies, you’ll already know my thoughts on all of their performances here. However, I will be discussing a few notable standouts among the familiar cast.

The standout characters to me include Iron Man, Thor, Loki, Vision, Starlord, Gamora, and Doctor Strange… Oh, and of course Thanos. (These aren’t the most important characters in the film, mind you. They’re just the most interesting performances). Each individual character is given a very interesting role in the film for one reason or another, allowing them to bring new elements to their respective performances. Doctor Strange for instance is placed in a position where he gets to exercise his snarkier side. Iron Man, with more new personalities around him to bounce off of, gives the best performance as this character to date. Loki also gives one of his best performances of that character yet. Thor, who thankfully maintains his comedic edge from Ragnarok, and Starlord produce some of my favorite comedic and emotional moments of the movie. For previously being the most boring character of the Guardians, Gamora gets a lot of really good scenes here that improve the character exponentially. Finally, Vision’s character is given a ton more depth in this movie. He’s so much more human here than in previous films and the result is a far more likable version of that character.

However, those are just the heroes. What about the villains? What about all this hubbub people have been making about Thanos? Is he really all that? Answer: absolutely yes! It’s too soon for me to say that Thanos is the best villain in the MCU so far. However, what I can say is that this is easily the most intimidating yet identifiable villain in the MCU so far. Yes, even more than Loki, Killmonger, Hela, and Ultron. His character is given a lot of care and background compared to villains past with an added emphasis on philosophy. You really get into what his plan is, why he holds these beliefs, why he believes he’s doing the right thing, and the lengths he’s willing to go toward to meet his goals. His motivation comes from a sensible place, and the emotional complexity of the character as the film goes along gives him a great arc. He’s without hesitation one of the best villain characters of the MCU bar none. He was well worth the 6 years of buildup it took for this character to finally be realized on film.

Finally, how do the new characters do in their MCU debut? First, we have the Black Order: Tom Vaughan-Lawler as Ebony Maw, Terry Notary as Cull Obsidian, Carrie Coon as Proxima Midnight, and Michael James Shaw as Corvus Glaive. I found them pretty enjoyable characters in the moment, but admittedly most of them are actually pretty forgettable. That is all except for one, Ebony May, who does manage to standout and have personality. The rest kind of just blend in for me. There’s also a secret character played by Peter Dinklage who appears in the movie. I won’t say who he is, but if you know anything about how much of a boss Peter Dinklage is in everything he does, you’ll know you’re in for a treat.

Production Value

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One of my favorite things in any Avengers film is the opportunity to hear that awesome Avengers theme for the 80th time. Never gets old for me. Not now. Not ever. On top of that sweet tune of awesomeness, I’m happy to report that the score of this film is also pretty good. There’s quite a few big musical moments which I won’t go too much into here, but the point is that the music plays a pretty good role throughout the film. Elevates quite a few scenes for damn sure.

Cinematography and camera work are good here as well. I was impressed by the look of a handful of scenes in particular. There’s one shot in the opening scene that just pans through (insert spoiler place here) in one take, as if you were walking through it yourself. This was an excellent shot, extremely fitting of the scene it was in. There were other really good shots throughout the film, such as the ending scene, but again, no spoilers.

Aside from that, all that’s left to say are the basics. Lighting is very good, sets are impressive (even though a lot of it is green screen), and sound design is excellent. Those are givens by this point, but still.

Overall

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My hope is that, even though this review was a little tight-lipped and nonspecific compared to my other reviews, I was able to convey one thing above all else. I FREAKING LOVE THIS MOVIE WITH ALL MY HEART AND PEE-PEE! Was it flawless? No. Was it the best movie I ever saw? Hell no. Is it my favorite Marvel movie of all-time? I’m not entirely sure yet. However, Avengers: Infinity War is without question one of the best comic book movies of the passed few years. A film just as fun, emotional, and thrilling as one would expect for a tenth anniversary. An event that was well worth the wait. A time in the theater I would wholeheartedly recommend.

Score: 9.7/10

Recommendations

While Avengers: Infinity War is a fantastic film I would recommend to just about everyone, it should go without saying that this is still the 19th film of a 10 year old series. So, before you rush out with nothing but my glowing review to go off of, know that there are a few exceptions to who will enjoy this film.

  • This film’s target audience are fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. If you are a MCU fan, then what the hell do you need my opinion for? Go see the movie and do it quickly before some troll or begrudged Disney/Marvel hater spoils it all for you.
  • If you are a relative outsider to the MCU, do not see this movie yet. It’s a great movie, don’t get me wrong, but this is the kind of film you need to build up to. Otherwise the film will be incredibly confusing to you. That said, since you’re here and clearly interested in seeing the film, allow me to provide you a shortlist of films you should see before you see this one. That way you won’t have to binge 18 movies unless you want to. I would, but it’s you’re life. You do you, boo-boo:
    • Iron Man (recommended, but optional)
    • Thor
    • Captain America: The First Avengers
    • The Avengers
    • Thor 2: The Dark World (Warning: may turn off some)
    • Guardians of the Galaxy
    • Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
    • Captain America 3: Civil War
    • Doctor Strange
    • Thor 3: Ragnarok
  • For those who do not like the MCU, there is almost nothing for you here. Granted, if your gripe with the series involves the traditional Marvel formula, you may find some enjoyment here compared to past films. I dunno. I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to take the plunge or not.
  • Movie buffs may have at least one reason to see this film due to it being the first movie to be filmed entirely on IMAX cameras. So those who are curious about how that affects the film’s cinematography, I recommend seeing this film in IMAX while you still can.
  • While I did just say that Marvel fans should see this movie, I should specify that this may not be a movie for certain Marvel fans; as in really young Marvel fans. This is a very intense film that features, among other things, gruesome death scenes. If you believe you’re child may have a negative reaction to that, you may want to either talk to your child about this topic first or wait for it to be on video where you can pause or rewind the movie for them.
  • For the casual moviegoer who’s just looking to watch the next big movie, if you don’t mind being confused by the story and love action movies, give this film a go.

Have you seen Avengers: Infinity War yet? What did you think of it? Did you agree or disagree with my opinion? Let me know in the comments below so I can hear your thoughts on the film.

Let me tell you guys, trying to review this movie without spoilers was super difficult and constricting. That’s why for those who’ve already experienced the awesomeness that was this movie, don’t forget to check out my spoiler-filled review where I talk about EVERYTHING! And believe me. There’s a ton we need to discuss!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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