Best Movies of 2018 – Avengers: Infinity War

As another great year of movies comes to a close, staff will be curating our selection of the best films of 2018. Whether it be animation or live action, comedy or drama, horror or action (or maybe even a romance!), these are the movies that struck our staff more than any other. So enjoy our picks and let us know what your favorites were in the comments below.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Released April 27, 2018)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? After years of other villains failing to bring him the Infinity Stones, the hulking demi-god Thanos has decided to do it himself, scouring the galaxy for the powerful gems and killing about half of the people who stand in his way. Divided across the cosmos, various heroes we've come to know and love over the years are trying to take the Mad Titan down, only to discover this is one threat that may be too strong to overcome. 

WHO'S IN IT? (*deep inhale*) Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, (*takes a water break*)  Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany as Vision, with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Peter Dinklage as Eitri, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector and Josh Brolin as Thanos. 

WHO MADE IT? Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, this is the 19th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER)


Much like THE AVENGERS in 2012, this movie could have gone very, very wrong. Sure, solo movies like IRON MAN, THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA can easily work, but that's because they can be contained, with one major hero leading the pack and supporting heroes at their side if need be. But with INFINITY WAR there's a cavalcade of top-shelf heroes, with even more supporting characters we've come to love just as much, all fighting against one mega force across 150 minutes. Everything could have gone wrong. The story could have been aimless; most of the characters could have been kicked to the curb in favor of more recognizable ones; Thanos (Brolin) could have been a typical, boring antagonist and; the effects could have crumbled under the weight of the scope, looking cheap and rushed. But no – nothing in this movie is half-assed or taken for granted. Every character has a place, the story is endlessly thrilling, the villain is one of the best the MCU has ever delivered and, in the end, it lives up to every expectation that comes with being the most epic superhero movie ever made.

Capitalizing on 18 movies across 10 years, INFINITY WAR finally brought Thanos into the light as he stormed across the cosmos looking for the Infinity Stones, crushing our favorite heroes along the way. This is an incredibly massive journey that mostly takes us to places we've never been before, putting together heroes that have never met once. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo make this mind-boggling outing seem like a breeze, effortlessly moving between all the different factions of heroes, each with their own plan to stop the Mad Titan. It's all chaos, carnage and clashing personalities, and for any comic book fan like myself, it's a Candyland of content. Every moment is filled with either gut-busting humor, nail-biting tension, seat-grabbing excitement or heart-breaking emotion. 

There are countless props that need to be given for this movie being such a masterwork, with many of them going to the massive cast — especially Downey Jr., Hemsworth and Brolin. Downey is as snarky and commanding as he normally is as Stark, but with his performance here is an extra layer of guilt and fear, as the apocalypse he envisioned in AGE OF ULTRON begins to come to fruition. Then there's Thor, now being the funnyman, also having palpable emotional moments, with the death of most of his friends making him feel truly alone in this universe. He's a man with nothing to lose and will take out his rage on Thanos. Speaking of Thanos, Brolin turns in a motion capture performance that rivals the work of mo-cap legend Andy Serkis, delivering an imposing, layered performance as the biggest of bads. More shout outs go to the visual effects team, capturing every nuance of Brolin's tragic, complex performance, and thanks to everyone's hard work we have a villain that may be too big to top when it comes to the next cataclysmic Marvel event. 

Yes, I often spend time pondering about what it is about going to the movies I love so dearly — doing so with pipe in hand, knit sweater on, Bach on the record player and the smell of mahogany furniture in the air. Ultimately, what I've determined is that while small movies can provoke thought and move me emotionally, and while big movies entertain me, the perfect movie experiences find a sweet spot in the gooey center. What I get from INFINITY WAR is a movie that thrills me from start to finish, makes me laugh out loud, fascinates me thanks to dozens of excellent performances and brings me to tears with gut-punching emotion: it's the full package. The proceedings may be too much for some to handle, but I truly believe this will be a blockbuster that people will study for years, especially as a way of balancing characters in a larger-than-life story. There's a part two to this story coming out — AVENGERS: ENDGAME — and if the expectations were high for INFINITY WAR, they're now above the stratosphere for the finale. 


There are countless scenes in INFINITY WAR worthy of applause, from large-scale, epic battles to small interactions that remind you this is one huge, interconnected (and often funny) world that's in front of us. However, in picking the scene that always makes me excited to revisit I'll have to go with the truly awe-inspiring battle between Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and a few of the Guardians of the Galaxy against Thanos. This battle on Titan is like a dozen splash pages from a comic book brought to life on screen, with so much going on in terms of visual effects, humor and superhero awesomeness. There's also other stuff going on during this scene that the movie cuts to, like the battle in Wakanda and Thor creating his new weapon, but the fight on Titan best illustrates how incredibly well this seemingly impossible movie was brought to life. Never feeling incohesive, you have Dr. Strange using his mystical powers to thrilling effect against Thanos' gauntlet; there's Spider-Man, leaping between portals and attacking Thanos each time ("Magic! More magic! Magic with a kick!") and finally; that nail-biting one-on-one between Thanos and Stark. Everyone in the theater each time I saw the movie (four, four times) gasped when Thanos stabs Stark in the gut, this edge-of-your-seat battle coming to a shocking conclusion. Every time I think about this moment it makes me want to pop in INFINITY WAR once more, and it's the most epic moment in an already massively epic movie. 


Thor: "Bring me THANOS!"

Strange: "Ok, let me ask you this one time: What master do you serve?"
Quill: "Oh, what master do I serve? What am I supposed to say, Jesus?"

Groot: "I am Groot!"
Steve: "I am Steve Rogers."

Drax: "It's like a pirate had a baby with an angel."

Thanos: "You should have gone for the head." [SNAP!]

Banner: "There's an Ant-Man *and* a Spider-Man?"

Stark: "You throw another moon at me and I'm gonna lose it!

Stark: "Are you yawning? In the middle of this, while I'm breaking it down? Huh? Did you hear what I said?"
Drax: "I stopped listening after you said, "We need a plan.'"

Parker: "Let me just say, if aliens wind up implanting eggs in my chest or something and I eat one of you, I'm sorry."
Stark: "I don't want another single pop culture reference out of you for the rest of the trip. You understand?"


As said in the review, there are tons of great performances from this incredible cast, but the cream of the crop is certainly Thanos. This is a character that could've been a blunt instrument of destruction, but immense kudos goes to Markus and McFeely for giving the character motivation, backstory and depth, throwing in a little tragedy to spice things up. Brolin gives this character the weight he needs, making him sound almost poetic as he talks about wiping out half the life in the universe. Yes, he's mad and his plan is misguided, but he sounds convincing and between that and the massive physical threat he poses this is a villain that commands your attention and makes up for years of subpar villains in past MCU movies. 


Despite the fact this is the biggest and one of the most-talked-about movies ever made – on top of getting great reviews – there's no way in hell this movie is getting any top-of-the-line awards consideration. It's the ultimate comic book movie, and while another — BLACK PANTHER — is a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination at this point, the Academy doesn't go in for the spectacle-driven crowd pleasers unless they find some "artistic" quality in them. Basically, unless they can validate the movie as being "more than a blockbuster," it's off the table. That's a damn shame, because it's undoubtedly much better than some other contenders, like GREEN BOOK, and that's not even if we're talking about as a piece of entertainment. That includes just *as* a movie; you know — plot, acting, directing, etc. Still, top awards will elude it. However, the movie is a strong Oscar contender when it comes to the tech categories, with it being in the final running for awards like Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score. So, no, don't expect it in the BP slot next to fellow MCU outing BLACK PANTHER, but I would be shocked if the movie sat out the whole ceremony.


The Marvel movies are rewatched again and again not only because there's a lot to this expanding, endless story, but because they're all so f***king fun on their own. On that note, there's no movie in the MCU canon that's as easy to pop in as INFINITY WAR. It hits the ground running and never stops, lacing between the action moments of comic brilliance, including interactions between characters that fans could only dream about watching. You can watch it with friends and have a riot, watch it by yourself when nothing else is grabbing you or even toss it on before bed because why not end the day with a bang. I've already watched this movie half a dozen times since it came out on Blu-ray, and I'll probably watch it again as soon as I'm done with this. 










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