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|Avengers: Infinity War
dir Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
prd Kevin Feige
scr Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
with Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, Peter Dinklage
release US/UK 27.Apr.18
18/US Marvel 2h29
Worlds collide: Downey, Holland and Cumberbatch
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Bigger-is-better fans will be exhilarated by this high-energy collision of a huge number of Marvel characters desperately trying to save the universe. But it feels more like the final season of a TV series than a film. The plot consists of a series of violently overblown battles punctuated with snappy jokes that seem inserted at specific intervals to undercut the otherwise far too serious tone.
Space rogue Thanos (Brolin) is trying to collect all six elemental Infinity Stones so he can snap his finger and purge an overcrowded universe of half its population. After a galactic smackdown with Thor (Hemsworth), his henchmen head to Earth to confront Dr Strange (Cumberbatch), who guards the time stone and brings Tony, Bruce and Peter (Downey, Ruffalo and Holland) into the fray. Meanwhile, Thor teams up with the Guardians (Pratt, Saldana, Bautista, et al) to chase down Thanos. And Wanda and Vision (Olsen and Bettany) head to Wakanda to get help from T'Challa (Boseman).
As these superheroes splinter and regroup, others come and go as well, including Steve and Natasha (Evans and Johansson). New characters are limited to Thanos and his vicious sidekicks, plus a helpful ironmonger (Dinklage). Otherwise, there's a busy stream of familiar faces, all of whom get their moment in the spotlight, usually with an amusing throwaway punchline or two. This helps distract the audience from the drab post-apocalyptic digital settings and some surprisingly basic digital animation.
The best banter comes from Downey and Cumberbatch, who trade sharp-edged barbs with gusto. And Pratt's prickly reaction to Hemsworth is funny. There are also several big emotional moments, but only a few register properly amid the general chaos. It doesn't help that the villain is digital, with only Brolin's eyes registering authenticity. The best scenes are between the couples as they are pushed into nasty corners. But both the comedy and drama are clearly just trying to balance out the steady stream of fights, battles and Lord of the Rings-size wars.
Twists in the tale keep things interesting, although some of key plot points remain vague, mainly because the editing is so impatient. But the story is energetic enough to sustain so many big characters. And the Russo brothers do a decent job juggling them all. Still, the film will only be truly entertaining for die-hard fans. Casual viewers will be worn out by yet another epic battle, and then another, and another, all without any decent character progression. But at least it ends on a cliffhanger that hints at huge shifts in Marvel's family of franchises.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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