Cinematic Releases: Finding the Perfect Balance: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - Reviewed

As much flak as the Marvel Cinematic Universe receives, it has been a gargantuan success over the past ten years, building a franchise empire that many other studios have tried to replicate unsuccessfully. Infinity War (2018) is the culmination of many other films, each one adding a little piece to the overall puzzle. The Russo Brothers had their work cut out for them with this latest film, as it attempts to put all these pieces together to form a complete picture.

Thanos is the big bad villain of this installment, and his goal is to collect the six Infinity Stones. Once he gathers them all he will be the most powerful being in all of the multiverse. Thankfully, this plot device isn't treated like a MacGuffin, as not only does Thanos have a palpable motivation for collecting the stones, each stone is connected to the universe of the narrative in a meaningful way. Each time a stone is acquired, there is something of import lost. One of the main criticisms aimed at Marvel movies in general is that there doesn't feel like there are stakes or danger to the characters. Infinity War is here to shake things up. Making Thanos have a bit more depth to him was a wise choice on the part of the writers, as it adds more gravitas to the events in the film.

There was a chance that the plot could have been an incomprehensible mess with the multitude of characters jam-packed into it, but I am glad to report that this wasn't the case. By the third act of the film there are at least four different story lines occurring simultaneously but each of them play off of each other and they all come together at the end in perfect harmony. This isn't award-winning writing here, but nobody acts out of character and each of them bring the little quirks specific to their films into this one. It definitely feels quite fan-service heavy at times, but it's never gratuitous. 

While a person who has seen all the films prior to this one will get much more out of it, there are a few bits of exposition thrown in to fill in any gaps those unfamiliar to the franchise might have. This is achieved somewhat organically by having Bruce Banner be the stand-in for the not-so-savvy viewer as he has been MIA for awhile in the movie universe and needs to be "caught up" from time-to-time by the other characters.

This is an incredibly CGI heavy film, and while most of it looks excellent (especially some of the planets) there are other moments where the seams show. I wish the Russo Brothers would invest in some better fight choreography as they tend to use a lot of shaky cam and jump cuts during hand-to-hand fight scenes that make it hard to make out what is going on. The action works best when it's focused on the various teams working together or the more fantastical set-pieces. The music is bland as always with The Avengers and Black Panther theme being the only stand-outs. Each superhero having a recognizable leitmotif would have made this film feel even more epic.

Infinity War is a worthy entry into the franchise and it encapsulates all the best aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe--which is mainly the character interactions. The stakes are high, the tone is quite a bit darker, and fans of the franchise are going to be shaken to their core by the end.

--Michelle Kisner