Review: 'Avengers: Infinity War' delivers payoffs for a sprawling cast of characters

PHOTO: Marvel Studios
PHOTO: Marvel Studios

For a film that’s been set up by a whopping 18 preceding films, “Avengers: Infinity War” does a magnificent job of pulling together all the previous setups into one unified whole.

The nineteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – with a currently untitled sequel coming to cinemas next year – sees the various superheroes struggling to prevent a powerful alien villain, Thanos, from acquiring the power to commit universal genocide.

The film’s sprawling cast necessitates that they be split into smaller, more manageable groups, so as to have any sort of meaningful interaction between characters. This means that there are sizeable number of different plots to follow. There is one common thread linking all the varying narratives arcs together — Thanos himself — but even so, the film ties them altogether in a suitably cohesive manner that leads us to the confrontation we’re all expecting.

It’s no mean feat to give each character at least one significant line and moment, but “Infinity War” manages to pull it off. There’s an especially poignant scene when a character is confronted with the possibility of death and reacts in a believable but moving way.

PHOTO: Marvel Studios
PHOTO: Marvel Studios

The action scenes are, of course, superb — with battles occurring on both a massive and personal level. It’s a visual spectacle to be sure, eclipsing all previous superhero team-ups in both scope and grandeur. Characters are given full rein to display exactly what they’re capable of, which makes Thanos all the more threatening when you see just how formidable he can be.

And what of the central antagonist himself? In a sense, Thanos is almost one of the protagonists of the film, since his story is just as important as that of the heroes. He does seem to take himself a little too seriously in a world where brightly coloured flying characters are a reality, but one can admire his single-minded dedication to his goal. He does lack a certain level of creativity and vision when it comes to the utilisation of his powers, but then again, that’s not part of his characterisation.

PHOTO: Marvel Studios
PHOTO: Marvel Studios

Without giving away any spoilers, you have to know that this is a two-parter. And since it is a two-parter, the film has to end in a certain way to necessitate a sequel.

With that expectation in mind, is it possible to have any sort of tension in the story?

Yes and no.

While the stakes are raised, gambled and lost throughout the film, it concludes in a predictable way that partially invalidates previous dramatic beats. And given the amount of real-world context you already have about the film, you know that the plot simply cannot possibly have permanent, long-term consequences. In this sense, the ending of the film isn’t so much a foregone conclusion as it is a setup for another film — when this film was already a payoff for a collective setup of eighteen earlier films.

As a result, some plot and character contrivances are required to get the characters to a particular point by the film’s end. This does mean that some odd decisions are made and a fair number of coincidences occur for this to happen. Of course, having a certain amount of foreknowledge about the eventual outcome of the film means that one is not as forgiving about how the plot manipulates such events.

The film has some inevitable rough edges, but “Avengers: Infinity War” delivers on almost all its promises and does a masterful job of paying off everything that has come before it.

Should you watch at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this more than once? Just for the visual spectacle of it, yes.

Score: 3.9/5

Post-credits scenes? Yes, just one.

Running time: 149 minutes

PHOTO: Marvel Studios
PHOTO: Marvel Studios

“Avengers: Infinity War” is directed by the Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe Russo, and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man/Tony Stark), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk/Bruce Banner), Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange), Tom Holland (Spider-Man/Peter Parker), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther/T’Challa), Chris Pratt (Star Lord/Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Don Cheadle (War Machine/James Rhodes), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff), Anthony Mackie (Falcon/Sam Wilson), Sebastian Stan (White Wolf/Bucky Barnes), Benedict Wong (Wong), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Dave Bautisa (Drax), Danai Gurai (Okoye), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Peter Dinklage (Eitri), Benicio del Toro (The Collector), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), with the voice talents of Vin Diesel (Groot) and Bradley Cooper (Rocket). It is rated PG-13 for violence.

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in cinemas:
– 25 April, 2018 (Singapore)
– 25 April, 2018 (Malaysia)
– 25 April, 2018 (Philippines)

Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter, having written for popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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