Tuesday, May 1, 2018

[SPOILERS] Infinity War Review

Last weekend, Avengers: Infinity War set a record for the biggest weekend box office opening of all time, at $641 million.

I contributed by seeing it twice and, now that the weekend is over and the reviews are rolling in, I would like to offer my own review.


If you haven't seen the movie yet and don't like spoilers, STOP READING NOW.

While plenty of people liked it, nay, loved it, I think that the emotional impact of the film was softened for me as I had already seen so many promo materials that there was nothing that I didn't expect.

My rating of the film?  Probably a C+.

It was a steaming pile of fan service.  Like a scale toothpick model of goatse, it was, architecturally, a masterpiece, but it left me asking, "Why?"  There were so many twists, turns, and plot devices propping up the leviathan that was this film, but in the end, I felt that Marvel had flown too close to the sun on this one, and I was not impressed.

This is only my own opinion.  Most people liked it and were impacted in a very big way.  They sat there in shocked silence as the credits rolled, devastated, many crying as though the theater had accidentally screened "Marley and Me."

Of course, part of me wonders if, with time, people are going to reflect and determine it was over-hyped after all and they didn't like it as much as they thought they did.  It's too soon to tell; right now, it's fresh in everyone's brain, and they are gushing about it.

Don't get me wrong.  It was an enjoyable film.  Marvel gave us 17 good movies prior to this plus a ton of shows and events and merchandise, like this Captain America waffle iron, so I think they were allowed to ask us to suspend our disbelief and pretend to enjoy this movie like it was the Emporer's new clothes.  And we did.

 By the way, canonically, Cap apparently prefers pancakes, not waffles.  
Get your shit together, marketing team.

But as far as where this movie will rank among other Marvel movies in the long run, I would put it after Age of Ultron.

Plot recap:
  1. Thanos bumps into the Asgardians and using the Power Stone, kills them all.  He kills Loki for the Space Stone.  First major death, complete with bulging eyes and neck crick.  Audible gasps from fangirls in the audience.
  2. Heimdall also dies, but not before Bifrosting the Hulk back to earth. 
  3. On earth, Bruce Banner warns Dr. Strange and Wong about Thanos coming.  Dr. Strange goes to get Tony Stark, who is currently serving his deep-fried balls to Gwyneth Paltrow.  They need to warn Vision!  
  4. Cut to: Scotland, inexplicably.  Vision and Wanda are having some hot sentient-robot-on-mutant-twin action!  Aliens come to attack Vision but Steve, Natasha, and Sam Wilson show up to save the day.
  5. Cut back to: alien attack on New York!  Aliens abduct Strange (who has the Time Stone); Iron Man and Spider-Man chase after him.  They are now in a giant donut that is hurdling through space.  The last time Tony was having a crisis in a giant donut was in Iron Man 2.
  6. Cut to: SPACE.  The Guardians find the ruins of the Asgardian population and hit Thor with their car, just like how Thor gets hit with a car twice by Jane in Thor 1.  They learn of Thanos's evil doings.  Rocket and Thor agree to run off to Space Ikea to get Thor a new hammer, while the Guardians go to Knowhere to check up on the Reality Stone that Thor left with the Collector.
  7. Steve and the rest of the crew show up to say hi to James Rhodes, Tony's paralyzed BFF.  Rhodey immediately does something to get himself court martialled.  They bail on America and head off to Wakanda.
  8. The Guardians find Thanos about to get the Reality Stone, and Gamora kills him.  PSYCHE!  He already got the stone, so it was all a vivid hallucination.  Gamora begs Starlord to kill her but Thanos takes her away.
  9. Thor and Rocket find the magic forge where they can create a new hammer.  Of 30 magic space dwarves, only one is left.  Peter Dinklage!  They finagle the forge on (Thor needs to trip the circuit breaker) and Groot generously donates an arm for the handle (because one of the Marvel rules is that someone always loses an arm).  With a new eye from Rocket and a new hammer named Stormbreaker, Thor is ready to roll!
  10. Thanos goes to seek out the Soul Stone.  He tortures Nebula in order to get Gamora to show him its location.  They go there.  Holy shit, Red Skull is there, looking fresh as hell.  (Seriously, CGI is WAY BETTER than it was the last time we saw him.)  Thanos sacrifices Gamora for the stone.  Hot damn, now he's got 4.
  11. Aliens are attacking earth.  The Avengers in Wakanda agree that they do not "trade lives," and decide to throw the entire Wakandan army to their deaths in order to protect Vision, who is basically a fax machine that talks.  Shuri will try to remove the gem from his head while still leaving enough of a person in there for Wanda to bang.
  12. Iron Man and Spider-Man save Dr. Strange and crash their ship on Titan, where they bump into the Guardians of the Galaxy.  After a hilarious bunch of quipping, Thanos shows up for Strange's time stone.  They engage in battle during which they very nearly pry off Thanos's gaunlet, but then Starlord fucks up and Tony gets stabbed.  The audience goes DEATHLY silent as Tony begins coughing out blood.  Then Dr. Strange trades the Time stone for Tony's life and Thanos takes it and disappears, leaving Tony to somehow spray nano science onto his wound and fix it despite coughing blood earlier.
  13. On earth, the battle rages!
  14. Thor shows up like a badass, along with the Rocket.  Rocket asks Bucky for his arm, as we were all expecting.
  15. The effects team are already overbudget so there are no Hulk transformations.  Instead, we get Bruce in the Hulk Buster armor.  He gets an arm torn off because, again, Marvel loves limb losses.
  16. Thanos shows up.  
  17. Wanda tries to kill Vision so that Thanos can't win.  (Apparently she's strong enough to destroy one of the six elemental forces of the universe.)
  18. Thanos LOLs at her, reverses time, and rips the stone from Vision's head.
  19. With all 6 stones, Thanos snaps his fingers and half of all sentient life disappears from existence, turning to ash and disappearing.
  20. Thanos, having won, goes and watches a sunset.

Here's some highlights from the movies:

My Top 5 Must-See Beforehand: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, Civil War, Black Panther.

People who saw none of the previous 17 Marvel movies.

Honorable Mentions: Captain America 1 (if only for Red Skull), Iron Man 1, Winter Soldier, Thor: Ragnarok.

Most Badass Scene: When Thor shows up to the fight in Wakanda, throwing around Stormbreaker and his eyes are all lit up with lightning... oh my God.  This was also the coolest part of Ragnarok.  Same concept and well worth recycling.  You could have a two-hour movie that was nothing but Thor berserking and I would be thrilled with it.

Of course, I also clapped when Dr. Strange uses his Images of Ikonn spell to create duplicates of himself while he's fighting Thanos, and the part where Bucky picks up Rocket and spins around shooting his gun.

This but one of the hands is holding a raccoon who's holding another gun.

Most Hard-to-Watch Scene: Nebula's torture or Peter's death.  A lot of people have said Peter's death at the very end, after Thanos has snapped his fingers and turned half of the population to ash, was hard.  It was; Tom Holland did a good job of weeping like a teenager turning to ash while stranded on a foreign planet in the arms of the billionaire who probably molested him.  But we know Peter comes back, since Spider-Man 2 is already in the works, and we know there's a Time Stone to reverse shit and we know that all the ash-people at the end were probably not real deaths.  The only four real deaths were Heimdall, Loki, Gamora, and Vision.  Goddamn, Nebula gets tortured and is screaming bloody murder; that was way harder for me to watch, personally.

Best Quips: In a movie full of pop culture references and insult humor, I'm going to give Best Quip to Steve Rogers, who, as usual, is obliviously serious to everything.  When he meets Groot, Groot says, "I am Groot," to which he replies, "I am Steve Rogers."  Drax is likewise wonderfully literal and oblivious throughout the movie, at one point asking the incredibly existential (and surprisingly foreshadowy) question, "Why is Gamora?"

The Runner-Up for Best Quip would be the smash-cut to the Guardians' ship in the beginning with the helpful placard "SPACE."

Worst and most utterly unnecessary part: Tony and Pepper talking about having a baby.  It added nothing to the plot whatsoever and was completely out of character.  They might as well have been looking at color swathes for their wedding or trying out cake flavors.  Nauseating. Wasn't the entire plot of Iron Man 3 centered around Tony bullying a kid?  Isn't his whole relationship with Peter kind of toxic?  Doesn't he still have a bunch of weird daddy issues?  Marvel, you stop that baby train right now.

Best throw-back: Tony having a crisis on a giant donut.  Runner-up: the return of Red Skull.

Most Pointless Pop Culture Reference: Squidward and Grimace.  Runner up to Starbucks though.

 How much did Starbucks pay to be mentioned by Okoye?

Most Cringe-Inducing Plot Devicey Bit: Starlord's freak-out.  I will concede that it was in character, because Starlord is a bit dim and extremely impulsive.

Why Loki Shouldn't Have Died: SO OUT OF CHARACTER.  Loki has NEVER been dim or impulsive, so his decision to try to stab Thanos in the face was utterly Starlord-level retarded.  Loki is a literal back-stabber, not a front-stabber!  Loki should be cool and clever enough to convince Thanos to let him live, then, in a typical Loki power-grab move, try to steal the gauntlet.  Worse, Loki tries to stab Thanos after he's already sic'ed the Hulk on him and after giving him the Space Stone, knowing full well its power!  Goddamn, Loki, what the hell happened there?  Loki would never act the way he acted during his 5 minutes on screen.  He deserved that death for his utter un-Loki-ness.

Best In-Theater Moment: When the girl two seats over had a legit breakdown at the end and couldn't stop sobbing.  Runners-up: when a guy nearly got into a fight with another guy who wouldn't stop talking, and when the Russo brothers showed up beforehand to say hi.  (I got to hug one of them.) (They were accompanied by Tom Holland, who plays Spider-Man, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Dr. Strange, and Kevin Feige, who plays Kevin Feige.)

Potential Resolutions: Everyone's yapping about the Time Stone but did we all forget about Adam from the end of Guardians 2?

Meanwhile, somewhere on earth, Clint was sitting around his dinner table with his wife and three adorable kids, who are all probably piles of ash now, which is a good reason for him to say "fuck this I'm going full-on Batman" and showing up in Avengers 4 as Ronin with a HUGE chip on his shoulder, and by chip, I mean Ant-Man, who I hope at some point crawls into a wound on Thanos's body and then explodes to his full size, spraying blood everywhere.  That would be so satisfying.

 If he dies by mere stabbing, I will be disappointed, 
and Loki's unnecessary death will have been for naught.

One of the things I noticed that was glaringly absent from Infinity War was a lack of Tony getting squished in the face.  I assume this will be resolved in Avengers 4.

I feel like so far my review has been overly critical so let me reiterate that I did enjoy the movie enough to see it a second time.  For me, Marvel movies are meant to be experienced more than watched.  They provide friend groups excuses to go out, to dress up, to talk extensively about what they would have done, et cetera.  So while this movie wasn't my favorite, I feel like I still got out of it what I needed to, which was an opportunity to strut my stuff in costume and hang out with my friends.

Going to Avengers movies in costumes is something we've been doing since Age of Ultron and it's a hell of a lot of fun.  We were the only ones who left the theater smiling; we went to a rooftop bar and then walked around Hollywood high-fiving people.

For a more comprehensive discussion of our personal Avenging after the movie, check out Andy's blog, where he delves into the details (including how he met Tom Holland) and reasons cosplaying is fun and totally not gay.

Straight as one of Hawkeye's arrows!

All in all, I wasn't thrilled with the movie but I appreciated that this was one of the most ambitious cross-over events of all time and in terms of cinematography, effects, and overall pacing, it was incredible.  If they had removed Gwyneth Paltrow, I would have bumped it up to a B-.

 It's certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and also Deadpool approved!

If you were on the fence, buy a ticket, if only to see the horrified, silent shock of the audience when the bad guy wins at the end, and to bask in the knowledge that, at least for the next year, every Marvel fan is experiencing a drawn-out existential crisis.

Avengers 4 comes out May 3rd, 2019.

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