Having just watched Avengers: Infinity War for the second time, I now feel that my opinions on the film have solidified enough to be shared.
It goes without saying that the scope of this film is unprecedented. Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years or world-building through 18 films, with Infinity War being the 19th in the series. This leads me into one of the strengths of the film: the balance. Despite featuring over 20 protagonists, every character has their moment to shine. Even less important heroes like Wong and Mantis have their highlight moments. I would credit this largely to the Russo Brothers’ directing, but also to the script by Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely. Another aspect of the script that I really appreciated was how it chose which characters to focus on based on their relevance to the story not by their popularity. Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Gamora may not be the best-selling characters Marvel has to offer, but because their very existence is entwined with the story of Thanos and the Infinity Stones, the film puts a significant amount of focus on them.
One of my gripes with past Marvel Cinematic Universe films, hypercritical though it may be, is the generic and unmemorable scores, with the exception of the original Avengers film and Captain America: The First Avenger, both of which were scored by Alan Silvestri. The Russo Brothers wisely brought Silvestri back for Infinity War, and the result is an exciting and bombastic, yet dramatic and emotional score. Silvestri not only revives the original Avengers theme, but he composes fantastic new pieces as well. The dramatic pieces in particular are quite moving.
Another complaint I’ve had with past Marvel movies has been the boring cinematography and unappealing color grading. Ironically, I find these weaknesses most prevalent in the Russo Brothers’ previous film: Captain America: Civil War. However, Infinity War manages to exhibit aesthetically interesting cinematography and vibrant colors that produce a visually satisfying experience.
Continuing the trend of the last two paragraphs, most Marvel films have had extremely weak villains, Loki excluded. The Marvel formula has been to focus primarily on the protagonists and to use the villains only as tools to highlight the heroes. This formula is completely reversed in Marvel’s most recent film. Infinity War is undoubtedly Thanos’ movie, and I would consider him the most captivating character in the film. His backstory is thoroughly explored, giving him compelling motivations. He isn’t a typical superhero movie villain that is simply there to take over the world for no particular reason. Thanos believes that his mission is not only justified, but righteous. There are points in the film where he is forced to make sacrifices that legitimately damage him as a character. He isn’t an emotionless wall that only exists to destroy. You, as the audience, see him grieve his losses, even to the point of tears. Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos is extremely riveting, which is especially commendable considering he is performing through motion capture, and his entire character is computer-generated.
The CGI is both one of my commendations and one of my complaints about this film. There are moments when the effects are flawless, and there are moments when the effects are quite poor. Although most of the film looks very good, the points when the CGI doesn’t work can be quite distracting. However, I don’t penalize the film too much for this, considering that it’s such an effects-heavy movie. Alternatively, in the world of Andy Serkis’ Planet of the Apes trilogy, the bar for motion capture has been set extremely high, and a film with a budget over $300 million should have no excuse for poor CGI.
Another minor flaw with the film is the pacing. I didn’t notice this at all during my first viewing, but upon my second viewing, the movie does suffer from some uneven editing that causes inconsistent pacing. For the most part, however, the film is adequately paced.
Aside from a few minor plot holes, the CGI and the pacing are my only significant criticisms of the film. I will say that the film assumes the audience has seen all of the previous Marvel films, though I wouldn’t consider that a negative. It’s simply the nature of the film. As an audience member who has seen all the previous movies, I would find it a bit annoying if they felt the need to insert a recap at the beginning of each film.
All things considered, Avengers: Infinity War is not only a very satisfying experience for any fan of the Marvel films, but it’s likewise an admirable piece of film-making on its own.