Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War
It is hard to believe that the seeds for Avengers: Infinity War was laid in a decision to create a new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that utilized superheroes whose rights or distribution had not been picked up by other studios. Marvel Studios would keep things in-house and would reap the benefits financially compared to their licencing agreements that were less lucrative. More importantly, they would have creative control across multiple platforms on their work.
In 2008 the film portion of MCU released Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. which went on to monster success thereby rejuvenating Marvel and the actor as well. Over the next ten years 18 more films would be released covering many of the other comic superheroes from Thor to Black Panther. All of them would be within the same universe and slowly linked through a series of Easter Eggs that would reveal plot points that would gather all the characters into the Avengers along with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Success was not guaranteed. Fortunately, no box office bombs crippled the project as it went along although some re-casting of characters took place such as Hulk and James Rhodes of the Iron Man movies. Most of the disagreements being over pay and creative control.
Marvel chose quite the talent pool of writers, directors and cast. However, they had seen other properties such Fantastic Four never live up to expectations when done by other studios. As a result, the studio had certain parameters as well as requirements for each of their films. Incredibly, the nearly two films a year pace satisfied nearly everyone and the hallmark of the end credits was to wait for the snippet or sometimes two snippets of a cliffhanger for what was to come next.
And so it comes down to Infinity War where the build up to one of the great villains Thanos (John Brolin) has been gathering. Directors Anthony and Joseph Russo with a good Marvel background of Captain America movies as well as TV comedies were well chosen for the ability to blend action and drama with an ever present humour. And this is a good thing because from the very beginning the audience's favourite characters are fodder for the villain's ambitions. The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely deftly gives the heroes screen time that plays to their previous strengths from storylines over the past ten years. The writers themselves know those characters well since they scripted four Marvel movies and polished a fifth not to mention created a spin-off TV series Agent Carter.
The talent pool in writing and directing is what attracts the huge amount of acting talent. Over twenty actors compete for screen time with many never working together before in Marvel's universe. Suffice to say, it is interesting to see Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) make for a good match in powers, action and humour.
It is hard to review without giving away the entire story but suffice to say that the villain Thanos has been gathering Infinity Stones as part of his plot to cull the universe of beings for its own good. He doesn't see himself as a bad guy. His view is that with a random fifty per cent of people gone, the universe will be stronger with more resources to use. Without his intervention, he believes universal collapse like on his own planet of Titan is inevitable.
With the McGuffin being the Mind, Soul, Time, Space, Reality and Power stones, heroes and villains alike are searching and battling in multiple locations. As far as the main filming location was, Georgia was the home of the bulk of the work with a few side trips to New York. It is a testament to the state that they can now do a $300 million movie with the best of the world studios.
The Guardians of the Galaxy cross over into Avengers as Thanos has been a thorn in their side for some time. Gamora played by Zoe Saldana has a particularly strong role to play as she is step daughter to Thanos. In many ways, this movie is an origin story for Gamora and Thanos.
The critics, the fanboys/girls will all have something to love about this movie. A few quibbles: Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is good for the most part but the recklessness of his character at one point had me throwing my arms up in the air. In addition, Vision (Paul Bethany) has a stone in the middle of his forehead and yet we see hum use few of his powers used to defend himself.
Despite some confounding moments, the movie is a rip-roaring yarn. Some of the pay-off might come in the next movie since so many people are not sure how to take the ending. A few tears were shed to be sure. But there was a lot of action and laughs along the way.