Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War *** (2018)

So we now have the Nashville of superhero movies, a film with way too many characters taking part in a half baked allegory. The best of Infinity Wars is the sheer scale of its ambition, rarely seen since the heyday of Cecil B. Demille. Unfortunately there's little in the way of substance, costumed creators are simply thrown together in a strange brew of screwball comedy and baroque comic book movie era set pieces. The big reveal is that Infinity War is more about the super villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) who appears to be unstoppable. 

Watching the film I kept thinking of Patton Oswalt's rant from Parks and Recreation that went viral a few years ago, a story pitch that would involve the Star Wars and Marvel Universes, a fever dream of high geekdom (also see Ready Player One). That's Infinity War.

The first half features fun banter, but it devolves in the second half into endless fighting and ludicrous plot contrivance. Plot summary defies logic, all dealing deal with six "infinity" stones that contain all the forces of the universe. Thanos is after them. That's the movie.

Infinity War is all about the moment, the parts are way more than the sum. In music terms, consider Infinity War an epic triple album that's partly high entertainment cinema, middle of the road cinema, and throwaway cinema. 

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man steals his scenes as usual, Captain America (Chris Evans) seems out of his depth, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is too cool for this movie, Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) appears weary, Thanos (Josh Brolin) is a banal villain, Dr. Strange (Bendict Cumberbatch) conjures up impotent spells, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are happy just to be there. The Guardians crew make a forced appearance. 

Every character is stretched so thin, proving why the solo Marvel movies tend to work best. As Black Panther proved, those stories allow for more depth and creativity. Sorry for the second music analogy, but it's as if there were way too many guitar heroes on the stage maneuvering for a solo. Where's Prince when you need him?

And then there's the last ten minutes, perhaps the most haunting conclusion ever in a superhero movie outside of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. For a fleeting moment It does appear the world as we know it is coming to an end, leaving you shaken and queasy. We know more movies are in production until 2099, but it's one of the great kiss offs in movie history. Some movies are worth watching for the off the wall ending - file Infinity War under that category. 

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