Guest review by: Callum The Critic
You can check his film blog here
Although many know me as someone who can be pretty harsh when it comes to certain films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe especially in regards to most of the Phase 3 films as of late like “Captain America: Civil War”, “Thor: Ragnarok” and to a lesser extent “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. Of course with such comments I have often gotten comments such as “You are just a jealous DC fanboy” or “You are not a true fan”. Well in regards to the “DC fanboy” comment, I am guessing people these people have forgotten that I am not a big fan of films like “Suicide Squad” or “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”. But as for the “Not a true fan” comments, I’ve always said that for me a true fan of a property to admit that their favourite thing is not perfect and such criticism in such masses could really benefit the future of a franchise into becoming better just look at the Batman film franchise after “Batman & Robin” which eventually gave us the excellency that is “The Dark Knight” trilogy. The reason why I am bringing all this up is because I personally didn’t love this film as much nearly everyone else who has seen this film, but I certainly didn’t hate it like “Captain America: Civil War”. Out of all films to come out this year, this one might be the most difficult as in order to really get into the meat of the film, I might have to break my non-spoiler rule when it comes to my reviews. So I will explain my overall thoughts on “Avengers: Infinity War” in this review with VERY mild spoilers:
Judging by a lot of response that I’ve seen friends of mine who have already seen the film seem to have a very Roger Ebert like approach in which there is a lot more of an emotional side to their opinions and judging this film more like how the experience made them feel. While there is nothing wrong with such an approach as it allows people within the film reviewing community to experience different perspectives when it comes to a film and even learn new things along the way, I am bringing all of this up is to warn you that this review will not be like that as I have more Gene Siskel like approach to my reviews in which I would be more analytical and get more into the meat of the story and the more efficiency of the technical aspects of the film.
So what’s the main theme of this film? With my viewing experience, I say the main thematic thread that carried the film overall is the rather Shakespearean idea of love and loss. By comparison to “Captain America: Civil War” (a film by both the same writers and directors) because this film (for the most part) kept its thematic ideas relatively simple without overcomplicating itself which resulted in the film being half-baked with its ideas (which is no shocker since doing the “Civil War” storyline was not even the Russos initial idea for the third Captain America film) nor does the film gives off a sense of self-importance in regards to its ideas like it’s some meaningful social commentary on the current socio-political climate, “Infinity War” just felt like rather straight forward film with a rather universal theme than the vast majority of us can get behind. I know a lot of people such one friend of mine admit that the theme for “Captain America: Civil War” don’t really hold up, but would say that the characteristics of that film really holds together.
I personally disagree in regards to that films characteristics holding up, but even they do despite the themes and general conflict not really holding that well together is still not a good thing because film as a medium more than just about characters. Film as a medium in general is about a story in which characters theme and plot are mere devices that a writer and filmmaker uses to create the whole piece that should be complimentary towards each other and if they characteristics and themes don’t each other in which the film becomes a thematic mess and has a plot that makes no sense whatsoever, then it fails as a film. Luckily with my experience for “Avengers: Infinity War”, I haven’t really spot any real thematic holes while watching the film (minus maybe aspects of the ending) as what the film says a lot of things about the concept of love and loss such as some may not experience love until they experience loss or in order to achieve your goals you must sacrifice a different kind of love for another (which for me mostly justifies the chances to the Thanos character despite the lack of his obsession with death being a change I am still not crazy about) and the loss of such love can be both a person’s downfall as well as a source of strength.
While the execution of the film is far from bad, I certainly don’t see this film as some sort of near masterpiece as many claim it to be and this is where I talk about how plot and theme. While I am glad that my initial fears of the film going in the film of it being way too bloated for its own good on the level of the likes of “Spider-Man 3” or even “Captain America: Civil War” to the point in which everything felt rushed since there was actual focus and for the most part coherency in this film as all the plotline and for the most part the film new to be very steady with its pacing. That being said, I don’t think all the plotlines and characters that were included in the film really added anything thematically to the films main theme of love and loss as many of them were either just there as characters with distinct quirks that were there to just merely move the plot along rather adding any new perspective to idea of love and loss, unlike how “X2: X-Men United” was able to mostly achieve with its story. Let me compare and contrast the functionality of the films plot and whether it works and does work for the film with “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, a film that I actually quite like a lot, but still have some problems with.
While “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has the problem of being a bit too condensed to a certain degree and really could have another half an hour longer in order to properly iron out a lot of the complex ideas it was presenting, but all the moving parts of the films plot are in service to benefiting the thematic messages of the films. This film doesn’t really feel condense at all due to it being only Part 1 of a story similar to that of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and is more simple in its thematic ideas (at least when compared to “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), but the moving parts for this film are just there to try and juggle as many characters and the distinction between plot and story become the more apparent to me as the former is the framework used to structure the ideas and the latter is the heart/concepts of the film which for certain chucks of the film are simply not there since some of the character simply get loss within the films spectacle, a similar issue that I have with the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace”.
Now this gets me into me talking about the ending or at least how people are reacting to the films ending. I certainly get why certain characters were chosen this particular fate (like Barnes, Falcon, Groot, Spider-Man and Black Panther) especially once you contrast it with those who didn’t suffer the similar (Steve Roger, Rocket, Iron Man and many people of Wankanda) as I interpret this decision as Thanos wanting the rest of the universe to have a similar experience he went through in the middle of the film. Although I don’t quite get why Scarlet Witch suffered the fate of the former group as she just suffered from last not moments before the film ends, I also don’t get why neither Banner or Natasha suffered a similar fate since it would be a nice payoff to their relationship in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (which the film does acknowledge) and could possible add some extra layers to the relationship in the sequel. I will admit that I might be reading a bit too deep into this or even misinterpreting the creative choices of the ending which the sequel could clarify later down the line.
Now onto people’s reactions to the films ending and it really making me question the credibility of the film going community because from the way people are reacting to this films ending, it is like they have witness a superhero film like it was written by Game of Thrones director George R.R. Martin with some calling it “quite possibly the ballsiest ending to a comic book film that I’ve ever seen”. This might sound a bit mean in regards to people who had a very emotional feeling towards the films ending, but I have to say that these people kind of come off as a bit naïve and seem to falling for the endings rather obvious emotional manipulation. I know film as a medium in general is emotionally manipulative since we know that they are products that are specifically designed to get a particular emotional reaction from its audience, the emotional manipulation only becomes a bad thing once it doesn’t come off as earned and aspects of this film ending kind of felt like that for me. We know we are getting sequels to films like “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, “Doctor Strange” and “Black Panther”, so acting like this films ending is more ballsy than say the ending to “The Dark Knight” or “Logan” doesn’t seem right to me because I just know that in the 4th Avenger film that at least some of these character will come back.
Obviously, I am not going to talk about all the characters in this film because there well over 30 characters, so for this review I will mainly focus on the main attraction: Thanos. While he is not comic book Thanos (and I still miss his obsession with death) they still manage to give up a lot actual character that prevents him from being a rip-off of Darkseid from DC Comics and even very emotional scenes with him because as a character it seems that the writers approach to the character very similar to the idea that known philosopher Aristotle has said are the three modes persuasion used to convince audiences that makes him a character that you can almost get behind and these are idea are: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. All which are represented by Greek words as it goes like this for each one:
- Ethos or the ethical appeal, means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character, which is displayed through the backstory of Thanos and his idea of balance.
- Pathos or the emotional appeal, means to persuade an audience by appealing to their emotions, which is represented through the character of Gamora and what she means to the character of Thanos, his goals and the tough choice he make in regards to his relationship with the character of Gamora.
- Logos or the appeal to logic, means to convince an audience by use of logic or reason and this is where I am somewhat conflicted in regards to this version of Thanos and why I feel like taking away his obsession with death is a huge missed opportunity because at least in the comics there is a twisted form of logic that kind of made sense as Thanos did it to impress Death herself. In this film, I kind of felt like the somewhat simplified motive of Thanos when compared to his comic. As I’ve discussed with a friend of mine, but for the 4th Avengers film is pretty much has very little to do because they simplified his motivation. He just wiped out half of existence, so what. Are the remaining heroes going to barge into his house while he’s having a beer? He simply has no goal left and I could not be shocked if the writers for Avengers 4 would have to find a contrived reason for Thanos in order for him to be pro-active in the plot. But on the other hand, I somewhat get his reasoning behind his actions which are consistent with character and the ideas he spouts out.
Now finally onto the technical stuff of the film and I will say that the Russos Brothers have certainly improved as directors when compared to their direction in their two Captain America films. One of my biggest issues with the Russos in the past is very similar to an issue that I have with Zack Snyder in which I feel like certain vagueness of their directions makes it come off as directors who have a hard time of knowing when to show in a film and when to tell in a film, this is shown in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in regards to the meaning behind the term “The Winter Soldier” which the film never actually gives hint about in regards to its meaning and it is all over the place with “Captain America: Civil War” in which we are either not given vital information about certain details that could really benefit the film (like how functions of Zemo’s plan) or even given misinformation about stuff that contradicts established continuity (lie the logistics of the Sokvia Accords), this film doesn’t really have that problem for the most part because of how the film neither as overly complicated or self-importance as “Captain America: Civil War” and yet is able to give the audience a lot of credit in regards to its development of Thanos without having characters speaking in very abstract generalities. The Russos direction also vastly improves in regards to the action department in which there is no excessive use of shaky cam like most of the action in “Captain America: The Winter Solider” and three quarters of the action in “Captain America: Civil War”, not does any of the CGI look like it was watching random clips from a Pixar film that was inserted into the film randomly like how Tyler Durden from “Fight Club” inserts pictures of dicks into family films. In fact, in the visuals of the film don’t look as standard as your typical MCU film (outside of the two “Guardian of the Galaxy” films and “Doctor Strange”), but they do some actual crazy and unique stuff with the visuals that are still integrated into my subconscious mind a day after watching the film.
While even if I thought the film was a near perfect film, I cannot reward it a full score because the story itself is completely as I am only reviewing half of a film (which prevents films like “The Empire Strike Back” from being a 5 out of 5 film as I score that film a mere 4.5 out of 5). However, while not everything in this film completely worked from me from aspects of the films execution of it ideas and how I am not completely won over by the films ending, I am pleasantly surprised with other aspects of the film mainly with the development of Thanos as villain (especially with how forgettable most villains in the MCU truly are) and how I think the film was simply fine overall despite myself not being a big fan of the directors previous film “Captain America: Civil War”), which does have me generally interested in the next Avengers film.
My score for “Avengers: Infinity War” might seem low to a lot of people, but my score for “Avengers: Infinity War” will be a score of 3.5 Infinity Gauntlets out of 5.