As a preface to this movie review, I want you to understand two things. First, I will not spoil the movie for you. Second, I am not as much a superhero fan as I am a story fan. I go to the movies to enjoy stories, not so much for the action (although, a bit of action doesn’t hurt.)
From its inception, Avengers: Infinity War had its work cut out for it: a huge movie combining some thirty-odd characters, each with his or her own superpowers, in an emotionally engaging and cohesive plot. One of my biggest questions heading into the movie was how Marvel was going to balance it all. I could see two ways that the minds at Marvel Studios might approach it. They could choose two or three characters and follow them around, anchoring the audience to their stories while everyone else wove in an out. This is what happened in Captain America: Civil War with Captain America and Iron Man as anchors. The other options was to split the characters into groups and follow each group around, letting the group function like a character, rather than zooming in on individual characters. This was the approach Marvel chose for Infinity War.
The benefit of the second option—storytelling through groups of characters—is that you don’t experience the character overload that happened in Civil War. You can become invested in each group and not worry about remembering every single character. The downside is that emotional beats can be difficult to hit when you don’t have a main character to follow.
Infinity War followed the second option and suffered on the emotional impact as a result. By following groups, the movie was free to feature action and fighting, but lost a lot of good opportunities to develop the characters. If you love action, explosions, and physics-defying computer generated images, the film is tailored for you. However, I found myself halfway through the movie asking, Are they still fighting? Can’t anyone catch a break? Apparently not. That is, unless, you are the bad guy.
The character who got the most development was actually the movie’s villain, Thanos. While most of Thanos’ story is delivered in short scenes between extended action sequences providing much-needed breathers from all the explosions and swords, it is not a particularly gripping or tragic story. I realize that the tragic villain backstory is a trope that has been reused to rags, but I still wanted more. For a villain so power hungry and so ruthless, I hoped that there would be more information about why he is the way he is. The movie really should be thought of as a Thanos movie, not an Avengers movie. He is, after all, the whole reason the superheroes band together to fight.
Another difficulty you have when you put all of the Marvel universe in one movie is that it’s hard to gauge who is more powerful than who. The rules run together and the logic of the story becomes unpredictable. Most fans, however, will probably be willing to overlook inconsistencies when their favorite heroes take the screen by force.
Overall, I give the movie a 3.5 / 5 stars rating. I enjoyed it, but wish the story had been stronger. It was pretty violent and had some swearing and one crude gesture. I would not recommend the movie for young children or those who don’t want to watch two and a half hours of fighting.
Keep in mind that Avengers: Infinity War is the first part of a two-part chapter in the Marvel Universe. This is only the beginning. So, keep your hat on, enjoy the ride, and let me know what you think!