Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR: A Grand and Gratifying Gathering

April 26, 2018

The film that all the past 10 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, 18 in all from "Iron Man" (2008) all the way up to "Black Panther" (2018), the main stories and all those little extra scenes in the closing credits, had been building up to. Such was the excitement surrounding this film such that fans wanted to watch it on the very first day of showing. Paranoia for spoilers pervades social media. As a result, all screenings of "Infinity War" (and that is probably 95% of all cinemas) in Metro Manila were most probably sold out last night. 

Thanos is a megalomaniac tyrant from the extinct planet of Titan, who thought that intergalactic genocide is the only way to go in order for the whole universe to survive. He firmly believed that his act of mass extermination was actually an act of mercy. We first knew about him in the extra scene of "The Avengers" (2012). Then we saw him again in an extra scene of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015) with an empty gauntlet. 

In this film, set two years after the events of "Captain America: Civil War" and right after "Thor Ragnarok" (2017), Thanos was intent on collecting the six "infinity stones" (power, space, reality, soul, time and mind) on his gauntlet to give him all the fantastic abilities he needed to achieve his supposedly magnanimous goal. The divided Avengers, along with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange, have to band themselves together to beat Thanos' massive threat. 

One of things that strike you about this film from the get-go was that the sense of danger is very real. Two hero characters (played by known actors) actually die within the first five minutes, even before the opening credits! This gave you the feeling of dread for the rest of film that no one is safe here. Any one of these heroes can really die here. All those speculations that one of the main Avengers will lose his life became a distinct possibility and that fear kept us on the edge of our seats the whole time.

Despite the very serious and even morbid main plot line, the sense of humor was still very much an integral part of the storytelling. Those funny moments (between Stark and Strange, between Thor and Starlord, between Banner and the Hulk, and many more) never distracted from the main story, but in fact made the proceedings all the more so engaging and entertaining. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo certainly kept things at a very nice balance and running at an exciting pace, expertly controlling the editing and special effects. 

Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely should be commended for being able to weave such an intricate tale of gathering the stones, set on various locations on Earth (New York, Scotland, Wakanda) and other planets (Knowhere - the planet of the Collector, Nidavellir - the planet of the Dwarven forges, and of course, the location of the Soul Stone - a mystery for which serious fans all had their own theories). Markus and Feely also managed to give each and every hero and anti-hero their own significant moments and memorable lines -- no mean feat for a writing team. 

The actors are all well fit into their characters already like second skin. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana got to see much major action and drama. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany shared centerstage with their love story. Chris Pratt and Tom Holland were really delightful. Peter Dinklage made the most of his small yet key role. However, the best performer of this ensemble would have to be Josh Brolin, who portrayed Thanos in motion capture. It takes special talent to make real emotion come through a computer-generated image. 

The ending sequences were unexpected and quite distressing to watch. They could have squeezed some more drama out of these scenes but they did not; though I am sure there will be tears in the movie houses. The reveal at the very end of the extra scene (only one, after all the closing credits have rolled) gave a sneak clue about a new addition to the cast of heroes. These factors just made the next Avengers film (scheduled to screen 2019, but yet untitled up to now) another much anticipated sequel. 10/10. 

1 comment:

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