The film is not so much a movie as a cultural event. Ten years of continuity, characters developed in their own stories and without having met before this movie. The thrill of seeing characters standing around and exchanging quips has the charge of good mythology, although I doubt Gilgamesh and Zeus teaming up would matter as much to people.
Superheroes are our mythology. Through mythology, we tell stories to share knowledge on how to live good lives. Infinity War talks about how we face defeat, amplified to a cosmic scale, against an opponent with a point of view which is not a one dimensional cartoon. There’s little to no allowance made for the casual viewer, and if you’re reading this as one, I’m not putting you off seeing it but if you’re sat there figuring out why the raccoon talks and why the purple alien is wearing something which looks like a pimp cup and a glove had a baby, you’re not going to enjoy it as much.
The look of the film has a burnished, soft element to reflect the weariness of the apocalypse and also to blunt the spectacle a little bit. There’s a clear Star Wars influence, albeit with far better special effects in the motion captured performances and battle sequences, because this universe feels like the frontier, the desert, which was where Star Wars felt most authentic.
We’re dealing with an established cast and the latter additions feature as lengthy cameos. Black Panther, Shuri and Okoye enter into the film when the story moves to Wakanda and it drops into the flow of things like a well placed music sample. The film has the large cast split into pairs or trios, so you have the pleasure of Benedict Cumberbatch riffing with Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr and Chris Pratt displaying an endearing masculine insecurity in the presence of Chris Hemsworth. Their characters and personalities are established like study notes with quips exchanged which have a lovely improvisational rhythm to them.
Josh Brolin who plays Thanos is the linchpin of the movie. His character is motion captured, being an eight feet tall purple alien, but there is a nuance and empathy to his character which takes him from being a scenery chewing villain into a dark god. In good storytelling, your villain should be a dark mirror of the hero.
Holmes and Moriarty.
Starling and Lecter.
God and Satan.
Thanos justifies his pursuit from a place of benevolence. A villain who has a point about the nature of things displays a keen eye for storytelling.
I won’t go into his core motivation. It would take away from the pleasure of watching it, knowing on one level it’s zeroes and ones whilst also able to believe he could walk off set and go to his trailer. Brolin impressed me but then he always does, if you’ve not seen him in W, you should check it out because he delivers some moments of gentle, quiet observation with a solid crafted focus.
The film was full of moments where I felt a savage joy in my chest. It’s a tingling of the skin on my upper back and my chest swells up, where the heroes appear and you’re invested in their chances to overcome evil and terror. Captain America stepping out of shadow with a look of stoic determination on his face, (having stolen my look, not Thor’s) and when Black Panther strides into view, looking like he’s ready to win a staring contest with a brick wall.
If you’re ever a bit down, remember there are people who feel like that when you walk into the room or hear your voice. I’m not bored by it but I have lived with it for a while now.
We’re put into the thick of things and the stakes are as high as possible. It’s action over violence, so there are deaths but little blood and the action sequences are fluid, balletic and intense. The characters move in the way they’re portrayed in the comics, static powerful images from my memory are brought to life and amplified into roaring life.
Its comedic elements appealed to my sense of humour, informed from shows like Community and Parks and Recreation, and there were a few things which made me laugh out loud.
Here were some highlights, and if you’ve seen it, comment on what yours were and about the film below.
- ‘I am Steve Rogers.’ What’s enjoyable is how Steve puts his hand on his chest and bows his head amidst a vicious battle.
- ‘Thor: The rabbit is correct and clearly the smartest among you.
- Rocket Raccoon: Rabbit?
- Peter Quill: I’m gonna ask you this one time: where is Gamora?
- Tony Stark: Yeah, I’ll do you one better. *Who* is Gamora?
- Drax: I’ll do *you* one better. *Why* is Gamora?
- ‘We Have A Hulk’
- I’d like to think of myself more as a titan-killing, long-term booty call.’
I won’t talk about the ending or my further thoughts here in order to avoid spoilers but go see it if you’re wavering. It’s a franchise which hasn’t devolved into tired tropes and that is rare these days. It also amuses me the film was directed by the same team who directed and produced a large amount of Community which is one of my favourite television shows and I’d make a pitch that the Study Group will Britta Thanos based on a plan by Evil Abed and Troy.
I loved the film and will see it again. It’s not a waste of your time in the slightest and leaves you expectant and exhausted in the way great movies do.