Oh, hello 🙂 .
Missed me? Well, I’ve been right here… where have YOU been for the past 10 months? 😉 I may have skipped out on posting for longer than I initially imagined, and this isn’t a return to any form of super-regular blogging for me, but if I was going to come back for something, this cinematic culmination of 10 years’ worth of Marvel movies is as good as anything — though, I may also owe a couple of friends a baby review at some point…
Also, before I dive into the meat of this entry, I’ve done away with any review template formalities I’d developed over time. No more self-imposed structural limitations and cutesy gimmicks on how I present things here. I’m just here to talk about a fantastic movie. Of course, doing away with my previous concepts means:
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
I sure hope you read that line above this, because from here on out I am going to freely discuss whatever spoilerific details I want to about Avengers: Infinity War, and if you don’t want to know them, then skedaddle! What a funny word.. skedaddle. Love it.
Infinity War came out this past Thursday night, which meant that I was on Internet lock-down until after the Saturday morning showing my girlfriend (Hi, you’re so cute!) and I (I’m also cute, but why would I talk to myself?) had tickets for. I am very happy to say that I managed to make it into the theater without having a thing spoiled for me. Special props to my buddy Nick for not mentally and emotionally exploding from having seen it Thursday night and been in the tough spot of not being able to chat with me about it for days. The Sydster (she’s my GF, for those just joining us) and I purchased tickets a few weeks ago, at one of them fancy motion-picture places with assigned seating. I was a little late in doing so, but we managed to wrangle 2 seats in Row D. I wasn’t intimately familiar with this theater, so I wasn’t exactly sure how close Row D was… but it didn’t look too bad in the diagram. This Saturday, though, as we walked into the theater and had to hang a right to walk closer to the screen, I was a little nervous. I don’t feel particularly comfortable being too close to the large screen, and I braced myself through the previews and did my best to relax. The cute girl sitting next to me has very soft hands that are very calming to touch, though, so that helped. 😉 Once the movie really got going, though, I fairly quickly moved past feeling overwhelmed by the size of the faces and action on the screen in front of me… and became overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the movie itself!
BAM, word play! Brilliant.
Avengers: Infinity War has been a long time coming. Since that blue-purple face first grinned at us in a mid-credits scene of The Avengers, Thanos’ coming has permeated the entire overall storyline of Marvel’s movie universe. The trailers for this latest movie teased a reckoning of epic proportions, a story focused on an all-universe group effort to stop a madman bent on death and destruction, but what the movie ultimately gives us is something more. So much more.
When was the last time you saw a movie in which the villain was the story’s protagonist? They exist, certainly, but it’s rare — and I fail to think of one in the superhero genre. Even if we are presented with the concept of an anti-hero in a movie, this character is usually fighting against something even worse. Marvel’s Loki, for as much trouble as he causes, is never fully the ultimate villain. In Infinity War, Thanos answers to no one but himself, and yet, this is still his story. I wasn’t expecting that. I assumed characters would die and that there may be a bittersweet ending, but I didn’t quite expect our heroes to lose. And that is how this movie ends… our protagonist villain, Thanos, accomplishes his goal and looks out into the sunset victorious. What a set of cojones Marvel has to end this massive blockbuster on a gut-punch ending of our heroic characters losing.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Cue the Time Stone; reverse, reverse, reverse.
From the opening Marvel logo, this time absent the usual musical fanfare, the tone is set that this story is different. From the following Asgardian distress call to a villainous dialogue about the honor of death at Thanos’ hand, the opening scene only gets darker as it goes along. We witness Thanos carrying Thor like a sack of groceries, Hulk getting beaten like he’s a two-bit boxing chump, and watch two beloved characters die — characters who have been with us since Thor. It’s rough, but it’s key. From here on out, as things lighten up and become fun for a while, having witnessed this opening scene we are always on edge of when another like it might happen again.
But the movie does have fun for a while, indeed. The first half of the movie is filled with all of the character meetings we’d be expecting — Stark meets Strange, Thor meets The Guardians, etc.. Thanos is coming, and that’s not forgotten, but most of the time we’re in classic Marvel fare with entertaining action, brilliant character, and plenty of witty quips. Sometimes, we get all three in one, such as when Bruce Banner is in the midst of a fight and trying to bring out Hulk… but can’t. In fact, I absolutely loved that Banner never succeeds and Hulk remains in hiding after the whooping he took at the opening of the movie.
Hah, it’s been a while since I’ve written much, I’m already tuckering out and ready to be done… so we’ll have to wrap things up fairly quickly. 😉
In fairness, though, for me to go through all of the bits and moments I loved, I’d have to just re-watch the movie and write down everything I saw and heard, so I can’t go on too long. Some highlights to be mentioned, though (and in no particular order at all):
- Captain America’s introduction was wonderful. During that fight scene, when Thanos’ gal looks to a train going by in the background, I wasn’t sure what was happening. My thoughts went, “What’s she going to do to the train?? Oh, is that a figure behind the train? Oh, who is that, another bad guy? Thanos?? Oh, it must be a good guy. Oh… OH!!” Yeah, it was a good moment for me 🙂
- When Thanos brings Gamora to Soul Stone planet, I had no clue who that mysterious being was… and as Red Skull revealed himself I literally gasped with an excited look on my face. What a treat that was!
- Tony’s new suit has I think reached the peak of what they can do… but I wasn’t fathoming a fluid nano-tech suit to begin with, so what do I know? 😉
- Peter Dinklage playing a dwarf who is also a giant entertained me greatly.
- The motion-capture and characterization of Thanos, from a purely technical standpoint, was absolutely amazing.
- Groot’s moment of finally bursting into heroic action was fantastic and I softly cheered during that entire big — as well as during Thor’s triumphant blast onto the battlefield in Wakanda.
- Elizabeth Olsen’s performance abilities astound me in her more emotional reactions… something in how she displays fear/sadness/anguish really hits me in its reality.
- Banner being tricked into bowing to King T’Challa was probably my biggest laugh of the movie.
- Etc., etc., etc.
Now, for all of the greatness that came through Infinity War in laughter and cheer, it also stood out in terms of emotional depth, as well. My heart was filled with bittersweet everything as I watch Banner and Romanoff first see each other after so long; I softly clutched at my chest in emotional glee and pain. It was hard to watch Nebula frozen in fractured torture, and it was just as hard to watch Gamora watch her get torn apart further. It was harder still to watch Wanda not only have to face the idea of killing Vision, but to also then have to go through with it. And THEN, she has to watch Thanos rewind time and kill Vision in front of her all over again — entirely nullifying the painful, but heroic, action she’d just taken. It was then even harder to watch Peter Parker, only a child, realize something is wrong and cling to Stark in fear as he dies and vanishes into non-existence. And yet, it was hardest of all to watch Gamora stand next to Thanos on that cliff edge — the audience realizing that she was to be sacrificed long before she did. Marvel has missed out on one thing in all of their prior movies, and that is reaching a deep emotional chord for me. Civil War, though it grows very heavy and serious in the end, never quite brought me to tears. Watching Gamora’s end, though, hit me more than anything else Marvel has done… and that’s what leads us back to my final commentary on what set this movie apart from all else: Thanos.
Last year’s Spiderman: Homecoming had my favorite Marvel “villain” to date, due to the fact that he wasn’t really a villain in the usual Marvel movie sense. Thanos is in full villain territory, for sure, but he is also an absolutely engaging and fascinating character to watch. Just as with The Dark Knight‘s Joker, Thanos has a philosophical rationale to his actions that lead him to do horrible things, and yet they make twisted sense. Thanos isn’t simply the best-written villain Marvel has yet put into a movie, but he is easily also one of the best characters in general! We are seeing him the third act of his storyline, but the complexity of his decisions, the brutal terror of his abilities, and his genuine affection all combine into someone who is absolutely fascinating to watch. After the brilliantly emotional moment of Wanda killing Vision in an effort to save the day by destroying the stone implanted in his head, Thor walks up to her as she’s hunched on the ground crying and gently caresses her head with his enormous fingers. When Thanos realizes that he has to sacrifice what he loves to progress on his journey, and turns to Gamora (the sacrifice) with tears on his cheeks, it’s a really powerful moment. Thanos’ motivation throughout this entire movie isn’t one of malicious joy, but one of duty. It is important, in his eyes, that he succeeds, and no cost is too great.
And, in the end of it all, Thanos does succeed.
Theories and speculation abound on what will come of this gut-punch ending, but I won’t bother going into all of that. For now, I’ll just bask in the wonder that is one of the best, and certainly the boldest, movies Marvel has put out, yet.
“Perfectly balanced.” ’nuff said!