‘I’ ON CULTURE
The new Avengers: Infinity War movie is a lot of fun. Very long, at more than two and half hours, time seems to fly. The action begins in the first minute, and even though just about every character in the Marvel Universe shows up, much of the fun takes place on a micro-scale, a few superheroes at a time.
The plot revolves around the villain first seen in the first Avengers film, and then on center stage in The Guardians of the Galaxy, the titan Thanos, and his attempts to get the six infinity stones, small jewels that are the key base elements of the universe. If he can get all six on to his giant gauntlet, he will have enough power to reach his goal. Hint: many people (and other beings) will die.
Without giving away more, which would ruin the fun, just about all the heroes and superheroes wind up battling him. A good part of the fun is seeing the characters actually meeting. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), after a disastrous fight, winds up being picked by the Guardians. Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), quickly jealous because Gamora (Zoe Saldana) finds Thor very attractive, acts out. When Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) calls Quill and others “morons,” Thor assumes that is their name. At another point, when Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbach) get snarky with each (and both do snark really well), Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) introduces himself at “Peter Parker” and gets the answering name, “Doctor Strange.” His reply: “Oh, we’re using our made-up names.”
But in the middle of this, we see battles, as the bad guys try to take a key stone from Vision (Paul Bettany) with the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) battling with him and having trouble until Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain America (Chris Evans) lend a hand. There are many small battles until at Wakanda, they have the big battle.
The cast is really good. Of course, some characters get more screen time than others, but all are quite good. Zaldana deserves a special shout out, as she does some real emoting dealing with Thanos, who is her adopted father. Peter Dinklage was exceptional in a rather large cameo, and Hemsworth and Cooper have a really good series of scenes. The actors from Black Panther also shine, particularly Danai Gurira as Okoye, who has a great line as Scarlet Witch, who had been helping the ever-adorable Shuri (Letitia Wright) in a key surgery, joins the fighting army. With a wave of her arms, she wipes out hundreds of enemy monsters, and Okoye wonders, “Why was she back in the lab?”
The real star, however, is Josh Brolin as Thanos. His work was essentially backed up by computer imaging, so we do not really see him (although there is quite a resemblance), and we do hear his voice. A really good drama, even on an action level, requires a really good villain. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger from Black Panther clearly demonstrated how that could power a film. Here, Thanos is not a cardboard cutout bad guy. He really believes his actions, no matter how horrible, are for the good. He is a villain with real feelings, and even a sense of humor.
One of the biggest problems in a film with as many lead characters as this one is trying to keep a coherent action adventure. But the Russo brothers, the directors, manage to keep things moving. Most times there are only a few actors on screen at a time, but the different segments work together very well. It is an effective tapestry.
The film has the problem of all not-completed films. This is Part I of a movie that will be completed next year. As a result, it all ends with a cliffhanger. Return next May to see what happens.
This is a great fun ride of a film. Not as dramatic as the better Black Panther, it still provides a really excellent time at the movies. Be sure to see it.