Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Friday saw LC and I take FunSize for her first trip to the cinema. For this purpose, we had purchased a set of noise-reducing headphones for her to wear, which led to two slight concerns - firstly, that she might simply reject them entirely; and secondly that they might not be enough. (Seriously, what's with the volume control at the Vue these days? They have the volume set considerably higher for the adverts and trailers than for the film itself, to the point where it's frankly painful. While the trailer for "Mission Impossible: Fallout" was playing, I was concerned we'd have to give up, given how FS was responding to all the noise, and that despite the headphones.)

Anyway, we made it through the trailers, and in to the film itself. And it's good - "Infinity War" is very much the culmination of everything they've been building for 10 years, and it therefore benefits greatly from all that lore. Don't go unless you've seen a good portion of the films leading up to this (seriously, why would you jump in at chapter 20 of the long-running series?). But if you have, and you've enjoyed most of the entries, you'll probably enjoy this one.

That said, while it's good, it's not great - this isn't on a par with the first "Avengers" film, and it's certainly not in the same league as "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" or "The Dark Knight". There's just too much crammed into too little space (and that despite a 2 hour 40 mins run-time), and too many characters.

From here on out, there are spoilers. So if you don't want to know, skip to the next post. You know the drill by now. :)

I think the thing I liked most about this film was the way it really did sum up everything we've seen so far - the film didn't waste any time re-introducing characters or locations, but just got on with things. We saw (or heard referenced) all the locations we've seen to date (Asgard, Knowhere, Zandar Prime...), caught up with pretty much everyone we'd seen thus far.

Although, having said that, the thing I actually liked most was the tiny moment where Bruce Banner finally reunites with Natasha Romanov - there's barely any dialogue there, with everything communicated in silence. It might seem strange, but that's probably the best character moment in the whole film.

The big weakness of the film, though, is that it does just try to cram in too much - too many characters, too many locations, too much story. Everything is therefore compressed and urgent, skipping from one thing to the next just to get the pieces into place. And then there's the big CGI showdown (yawn). We do eventually come out on the other side of the CGI showdown, and get back to the characters, and that's good... but I'm just not sure it's enough.

Also, I'm afraid the tone is inconsistent. Partly this is inevitable - whereas in the first Avengers film they did a good job making the Iron Man bits feel like an Iron Man film, the Cap bits feel like a Captain America film, and the Thor bits feel like Thor; here they're trying to do that and add Spider-Man bits and Doctor Strange bits and Guardians of the Galaxy bits... and given that the latter, in particular, is quite at odds with the seriousness of everything that's going on, it just didn't quite come together. Which is a shame.

And then there's the ending. Which would have been very powerful... if we didn't know that most of the dead characters have sequels in the works. We know Doctor Strange and Spider-Man and Black Panther are coming back, so their deaths are immediately undercut.

Incidentally, it's worth noting that Thanos' master-plan is absurd. That's fine, since he is after all "The Mad Titan", but it's really rather depressing watching various supposedly-intelligent people seriously discussing it. But that's not a problem with the film...

So, the upshot is that this is a good film, but not a great one (as I said above). It's probably a film I'll rewatch a few times, notably just before "Part Two" comes out, but I don't expect to rewatch it too often - certainly less often than any of the Captain America films, the Guardians of the Galaxy films, or "Thor: Ragnarok".

(I was going to sign off by noting that it was still probably the best new film I've seen this year. But it occurs to me that that's not true - "Black Panther" has it well beaten.)

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