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Avengers: Infinity War (dir. Anthony & Joe Russo)

Image: Full star cast of Avengers: Infinity War © Property of Marvel Studios [Source: IMDB]

 ★★★★☆

From 2008’s Iron Man and a decade in the making. Marvel has built up its cinematic universe essentially crowing itself king of the powerhouse genre that is the superhero movie. Delivering smash hits consistently and improving the tiring formula time and time again. Now comes Marvel’s crowning moment. From its small stirrings of after credit scenes alluding to the greater looming threat of Thanos comes the debut of the titan himself in his final push to capture all the infinity stones and achieve ultimate power.

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Paul Bettany, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olson, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Benicio Del Toro, Karen Gillan, Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage, Carrie Coon, Tom Holland [12A]

It was Thor: Ragnarok that boasted of an end-times prophecy but it is Infinity War that carries all the tone and gravity of that endgame threat. Filled to the brim with the cast of characters we have all invested ourselves into for the last decade, watching intently as Marvel built the innovative cinematic universe to which we find ourselves enthralled with. Returning after a gap of shifting focus to the supporting characters, are the core team of Avengers (except you Hawkeye, sorry) that came together all those years ago.

Not only is it delightful to see the team reunite but it’s also emotionally gratifying, paying off our investment with the characters, the growth of each of them and the world in which Marvel collectively has built. To some extent, however, Infinity War plays its trump cards close to its chest. It is clear to see who is deemed more important in terms of star value and while the large array of characters are handled remarkably well. Parts of Infinity War feel somewhat cheap, clearly holding restraint in Thanos’s malice and makes some moments feel inconsequential even reversible (which it does seem they may do). Although one moment is right out of the comics, what this part fails to do in the film is realise the scope of the malevolent act and instead, the moment can feel like a slap in the face but perhaps that is the desired effect. While it is certainly devastating, future Marvel film plans remove the punch from the moment, revealing Marvel’s watering down of this film’s scope in order to give further weight to a follow-up. When this should have been more than a set up.

At the very least it felt fresh for Marvel. As in the developing nature of this world, Marvel has produced a tiring formula, noticeable in some of the tie-in films but then in some wonderfully flavourful films, there is an attempt to correct that. Unfortunately, Infinity War lacks any real innovation in removing the familiar beats and cinematography of the formula, which for the most part is fine, making a getaway through its smooth execution and engrossing story, even despite the sometimes distracting CGI that there is an over-reliance on.

Through the building up of this moment, there is a question of if this is just marketing and generic filmmaking done right. But arguing against that is the reward layered throughout the movie, going a step beyond the general fan service of previous iterations of Marvel movies. Truly giving Infinity War the weight it desires in a threat foretold long ago that is now coming to fruition. It’s easy for some to dismiss superhero films as a passing fad of cultural entertainment. But not only is the superhero genre akin to the Western in its prime but so too does Infinity War stand taller than what it is on the surface. Thinking back on the history of blockbuster movies and its beginnings with the magnificence of Jaws. A film that too has had a much more lasting impact than you might have believed in 1975. Avengers: Infinity War feels like this generation’s Star Wars moment. There is no denying that Marvel has delivered part of – one of the greatest blockbusters in cinematic history.

Which is exactly where the problems lie in Infinity War. This is only a part of the film it should be. Through its telling of the grand story that does a marvellous job of showing us the scope of Thanos’s threat, there is certainly a feeling seeped into the film of grand epicness that reminds one of Ben Hur or Lord of The Rings. Much like Lord of The Rings’ Shire theme touching on the musical motifs and rewarding us in our investment in Return of the King. When the familiar sound of the Avengers theme swells as the group come together, there is a rewarding drawing of breath like none other. Infinity War is and should be more, originally titled to show that this was, in fact, part one of a story. Infinity War certainly shows that it is, demonstratively pulling its punches. Often seeming downright silly in which it shows that it is merely an emotional set up for the second part to follow. I for one could have quite easily admired this for the marvel that it could have been in a four-hour, even four hours plus film like the epics of old. But sadly that doesn’t sit well with general cinema-goers.

Ultimately Avengers: Infinity War is part of, the utmost ‘event movie’ and crowning king of blockbusters. Despite its glaring marketable choice in watering down its grandeur into two separate films and pulling its punches in its most dramatic moments. You’ll still laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll revel, you might cry and you’ll likely finish the entire bag of popcorn without noticing. If part two follows the same tone and weight, improving on the issues with its familiar beats, this will be part one and two of a film for the ages. Nothing short of biblical.

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