Thursday, May 31, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War; fantasy action, USA, 2018; D: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, S: Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper (voice), Pom Klementieff, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Don Cheadle, Peter Dinklage, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio Del Toro, William Hurt

New York. Despite all their differences, Iron-Man / Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Black Panther, Vision, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Winter Soldier, augmented by the "space calvary" in the form of Peter Quill and his Guardians of the Galaxy—Drax, Gamora, Groot, Rocket and Mantis—join forces to stop the autocratic Thanos, who wants to collect all six Infinity Stones, which would make him the most powerful being in the Galaxy and make his vision come true, namely to save the Galaxy from decay of overpopulation by killing half of every living intelligent life across all the planets. Despite their enormous efforts, Thanos gets the final Mind Stone and activates the disintegration of half of all life across the Universe, causing many of the Avengers to simply disappear.

Despite many believing that the story could not grow anymore in scale, the 19th film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe film series, which started a decade ago, "Avengers: Infinity War" decided to set the bar even a notch higher, handing over a movie diptych whose ambition attempts to make it the "Ben-Hur" among the superhero movies. While its epic scale certainly is colossal, its character interactions, ingenuity and versatility of events are still as thin and simplistic as all the previous comic-book films, making it seem like an overblown bubble at times. One of the major problems the screenwriters had to face was how to construct a story that would encompass 18 heroes (!) in one, since each one of them had to say at least a couple of lines, threatening of rendering the entire story overstuffed with babble or excess, as it was the case with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", yet screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely managed to assemble a surprisingly well crafted script that always keeps its balance, adjoining just enough lines to everyone—except for the underused Black Widow, Captain America, Falcon and Winter Soldier, who just did not get anything more than a few minutes of screen time.

Luckily, the Guardians of the Galaxy did not disappoint since all their scenes are the most fun in the entire film: the dramatic talk between Gamora and Quill is deliciously interrupted when they hear Drax eating nuts and realize he was listening to them the entire time, whereas Quill's argument with the Avengers is refreshing ("Flash Gordon? That's a compliment. Don't forget, I'm half human. So that 50% of me that's stupid that's 100% you!"). The second most lively character is once again Tony Stark / Iron-Man (very good Robert Downey, Jr.), who also manages to eclipse many other stiff-grey characters and rise through the ranks thanks to his wit: near the opening, when the two aliens show up in New York in order to get the Stone, he just says to them: "We're sorry, the Earth is closed for today!". Certainly, the visual effects team tries to make the action sequences equally as engaging, but they fail since this kind of wit is far more direct, whereas the constant CGI overkill makes some battles look like a video game. Even the villain, Thanos, is not presented as a 'run-of-the-mill' bad guy who just wants to conquer the Universe just for the sake of his egoism, but a more complex personality who has a weird philosophy that there needs to be a balance in the Universe, and that half of all life across the planets has to be killed to stop the decay of overpopulation. However, this is still illogical: if Thanos now has the magical Infinity Stones, including the Reality and Time Stone, and can do anything, why not simply change, expand and re-write the entire Universe so that this overpopulation is not a problem anymore? Why killing the sick if one has the power to cure them? These and other omissions somewhat clash with the more mature, dark content of the story—some of which is almost dancing on R rated territory—yet the film still marks a welcomed trend: finally, a big budget Hollywood film with a decent story and style.


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