Avengers: Infinity War

 

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Anthony and Joe Russo's cacophonic head-trip lacks the verve and distinction of Marvel's best outings, resulting in stellar indigestion.

 

Avengers Infinity War

A time to kill 

 

With size comes responsibility. And, by most accounts, Avengers: Infinity War is the most expensive movie in cinema history, with exact figures varying wildly. It certainly has the most superheroes packed into one outing. Indeed, the film’s most satisfying moments are those in which much-loved action figures come face-to-face for the first time. Even so, stellar indigestion is a problem. Here, there’s no Lois Lane or Gwen Stacy to give the massive canvas a human perspective (although Gwyneth Paltrow makes a welcome cameo as Pepper Potts), while two iconic Brits are killed off before the opening title. Be warned, then, this is more Avengers Annihilated than Avengers Assemble, if only to keep future costs down (some reports put Robert Downey Jr’s wage packet in the nine-figure range, believe it if you will).

 

The true star of the film, though, is Josh Brolin, the stepson of Barbra Streisand, who plays Thanos, a Titan who seeks total domination of the universe and is willing to destroy half of it in order to achieve his goal. His thing is “dispassionate genocide” and he admits that “the hardest choices require the strongest will.” And Thanos is just plain strong. To get even stronger, he requires six ‘infinity stones,’ which will enable him to manipulate reality at will. The problem with Thanos as a villain is that he appears indestructible – and just keeps on getting more powerful. And the scenes of wholesale extinction are hardly uplifting. To make the overall arc of the story more interesting, a deftly dipped Achilles heel would have reaped dividends. Every villain should have a weakness.

 

And so Infinity War turns out to be little more than the world’s most pricey bloodbath, where reality is just one option and the gags get swallowed in the fire and brimstone. There are comic moments – such as when Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) discuss the merits of Footloose (presumably the Kevin Bacon version), and when Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) first admires the physique of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), prompting Quill to quip, “What? Am I one sandwich away from fat?”). More of this would have raised the entertainment quotient, and have made the film less of a relentless downer. There’s more to come, of course, and a few superheroes left to fight another day – the second instalment, Avengers: Infinity War – Part II, is due out in April 2019. Sigh.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel (voice only), Terry Notary, Bradley Cooper (voice only), Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Benicio Del Toro, Winston Duke, Jacob Batalon, Kerry Condon (voice only), William Hurt, Carrie Coon, Stan Lee (the school bus driver), Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson.

 

Dir Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Pro Kevin Feige, Screenplay Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Ph Trent Opaloch, Pro Des Charles Wood, Ed Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt, Music Alan Silvestri, Costumes Judianna Makovsky.

 

Marvel Studios-Walt Disney.

149 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 26 April 2018. Cert. 12A.