Review: Avengers: Infinity War

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

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PLOT: Earth’s mightiest heroes, and some other guys too, team-up to prevent Thanos (Josh Brolin) from acquiring all five infinity stones; which, if united, will give him the power to extinguish half the life forms in the universe with the snap of a finger.

REVIEW: Being a film critic, I’m privileged with the ability to see movies early, and there’s a certain responsibility that comes with that. My goal here is to write as compelling a review of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR as I can, without going into any spoilers at all, something that’s easier said than done. Accordingly, this will be kinda vague and lightweight, just because I don’t want to take away from any enjoyment that the audiences who spent ten years devoted to this gargantuan franchise might get out of it.

Suffice to say, this is less AVENGERS 3 than “Marvel 19” (its ironic ANT-MAN & THE WASP gets the distinction of being the 20th MCU film). It’s a sequel to every single MCU film that’s come out since IRON MAN back in 2008, making this one of the most ambitious movies ever made. Talk about an all-star cast! Has one ever been assembled on par with this one? Directors Anthony & Joe Russo have a lion of a job here, but they pull it off better than anyone could I’m sure.

Given that they’re juggling so many different characters with such ravenous fanbases, the pressure’s on the make sure each gets their day in the sun. That could have made for an unwieldy film, so as a compromise the Russo’s make a couple of core groups and spin them off for their own mini-quests before tying things together. It’s a solid tactic, and the movie would have likely been impossible to make any other way. As it is, I’m stunned this runs a relatively lean 149 minutes, making this kind of a textbook team-up movie for anyone looking to accomplish something similar.

All of your favorites are well-represented, although some do better than others in that regard. I was surprised by how well the Russo’s were able to make the Guardians of the Galaxy work in INFINITY WAR, with their personalities and banter meshing well with those they encounter, while also picking up on their arcs from the last film. I’d wager they’re a little less successful with Black Panther, with less screen time being devoted to those characters than the others, despite Wakanda being an important part of the story. This is probably due to the fact that the BLACK PANTHER universe is only just beginning to get explored, and he’s less easy to shoehorn in the action than someone like DOCTOR STRANGE. They try though, with Chadwick Boseman, Leticia Wright, Danai Gurira, and new fan favorite Winston Duke all being in on the action.

The focus, though, is mostly on the factions, with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony, and Tom Holland as Spidey getting some nice screen time together. The banter between the dueling Iron Man/ Doctor Strange egos also makes for nice comic relief. Meanwhile Chris Evans, with a new badass beard, and Scarlett Johansson as a blonde Black Widow, aren’t kept off-screen long before diving in. Mark Ruffalo, after a surprisingly scant appearance in THOR: RAGNAROK also gets some good screentime, while Chris Hemsworth as the now one-eyed Thor carries on in the same style he did under Taika Waititi’s direction. That’s a good thing, and the continuity is excellent. That the Russo’s are so adept at juggling the different ways the characters are interpreted is a wonder. In the Joss Whedon Avengers movies, I always felt they were being filtered through his lens. Here, it doesn’t feel like a distinctly Russo take on the characters. Perhaps this is the one franchise where too many cooks in the kitchen are a good thing.

The movie rolls along at a frighteningly fast pace, making this a tough one to time bathroom breaks to. What ties it all together is a surprisingly compelling performance by Josh Brolin as Thanos, who really does emerge as a fascinating villain. The motion-capture/CGI character works much better in the film proper than it does in the trailers. He’s one of the better MCU villains and a good way of tying the franchise together. Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany's Vision also come into focus more here than in previous films, and they emerge as the story's heart, giving it some heft.

Another good thing is that, despite being filmed simultaneously with the as-of-yet unnamed sequel, it’s doesn’t feel like half a movie in the ways some other back-to-back sequels feel like (HUNGER GAMES, THE MATRIX RELOADED/REVOLUTIONS, etc). While the story is for sure only half over, it still has a three-act structure and will satisfy you the same way an individual film will, even, if, by necessity, little is resolved. One thing’s for sure – if this was eagerly anticipated the sequel will be even more so. It’s a huge, HUGE movie, but it’s hard not to imagine it satisfying most fans in a pretty big way.


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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.