Sunday, April 29, 2018
Avengers: Infinity War
Based on the comic series by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and the comic storylines The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin and the Infinity series by Jonathan Hickman, Avengers: Infinity War is the story of the fractured superhero group who reunite to stop an alien who is trying to collect six stones in the hopes of destroying the universe as the Avengers seek help from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, the film is the first of a two-part film series in which the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy team up with other heroes to stop this being known as Thanos in collecting the stones and save the world.
With an all-star cast that include Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Pom Klementieff, Don Cheadle, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Benedict Wong, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Karen Gillan, Peter Dinklage, Carrie Coon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, plus the voice work of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, and Josh Brolin as Thanos. Avengers: Infinity War is a sprawling yet visceral film from Joe and Anthony Russo.
Set a few years after events that broke up the Avengers, the sudden arrival of alien ships featuring members of the Black Order who serve the alien despot Thanos have arrived to Earth to find two of the six infinity stones left on Earth forcing members of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy to stop it from happening. It’s a film with a simple premise with stakes that are huge as the six infinity stones are all based on the elements that arrived after the Big Bang where Thanos is seeking to get all six and put into a gauntlet where he can destroy half the universe with the snap of his finger. The film’s screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley is a multi-narrative script which picks up following events in which Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stopped by Thanos and the Black Order as he later meets up with the Guardians of the Galaxy who agree to help Thor.
Back on Earth in New York City, Tony Stark/Iron Man meets up with Dr. Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) where they received a warning from Bruce Banner/the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) as they’re confronted by two members of the Black Order who want Strange since he carries the time stone as Iron Man is later aided by Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Banner would call Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) about what he saw as Rogers, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) deal with the other half of the Black Order who are trying to get the mind stone from Vision (Paul Bettany) who had been in hiding in Glasgow, Scotland with Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as they all turn to James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) for help despite Rhodes being ordered to arrest Rogers and associates for going against the Sokovia accords. They, along with Banner, would go to Wakanda to get help from King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) who is aware that Thanos and the Black Order is after Vision. For all of the strands of narrative to occur as it all play into the same thing of these heroes trying to get the remaining infinity stones from Thanos.
There are also so much more that is happening as it relates to Thanos who is this alien figure that is in the belief that he wants to restore balance to the universe and he is convinced that by killing trillions of beings. He can save everything and he needs the six stones to do it as it’s something his adopted daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) knows as she is the only person that knows where the mysterious soul stone is as there is this unique relationship with the two in an established flashback as he would save her as a child while he and the Black Order wipe out of her home planet. It would play into a sense of conflict for members of the Guardians of the Galaxy including Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt) who had fallen for Gamora as he wants to protect her from Thanos. It’s not just this arc over Thanos/Gamora that invests into a lot of emotional moments as the storyline for Vision/Maximoff is just as important as they’ve become a couple that are deeply in love and Maximoff is desperate to protect Vision. It would later lead to all of the Avengers including Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), T’Challa’s allies, and the Guardians to fight for the universe.
Joe and Anthony Russo’s direction is definitely grand in terms of not just what is at stake but also for the fact that it’s set both on Earth and various parts of the universe. Shot largely in Pinewood Studios near Atlanta, Georgia with additional locations shot in New York City and Atlanta. The film does play into a universe that is big where it opens with Thor being attacked by Thanos and the Black Order where it is a very menacing sequence as it play into what kind of figure Thanos is and how ruthless he is. The Russos’ direction would include a lot of unique compositions in the wide and medium shots to get a scale of how big this war is between the Avengers and Thanos as well as the fact that there’s several factions in the Avengers and Guardians that are trying to get whatever infinity stones that Thanos hasn’t acquired yet. While it is a dark film with some nihilistic elements that is intense in terms of how it impacts the story. There are elements of humor in the film.
Among them involves Thor’s interaction with Quill as the latter doesn’t seem fond of Thor because the former is cooler and gets along easily with Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) while another funny exchange involves the banter between Stark and Dr. Strange as two men with big egos who think they’re better than everyone. Still, the Russos do know when to take the break from the action as it relates to the Avengers trying to understand the infinity stones and what is at stake as well as Thor, Rocket, and Groot traveling to a mysterious planet to create a weapon that can kill Thanos with the help of a giant elf in Eitri (Peter Dinklage). By the time Stark, Dr. Strange, and Parker would meet other members of the Guardians including Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Gamora’s adopted sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) at Thanos’ home planet Titan. The film’s climax which takes place both at Wakanda and at Titan is intense where most of the Avengers take on Thanos’ army and members of the Black Order while Stark, Parker, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians take on Thanos as it is followed by something that is a real punch to the gut.
It plays into the possibilities of what happens if Thanos succeeds in his mission and the costs as it’s not just Thanos who would do something to achieve that. The Avengers and the Guardians would also pay a major price in their attempts to stop him where everyone knows what is at stake but some completely lose sight of that in favor of personal gain with some willing to make sacrifices. Its ending is really unlike many superhero/blockbuster films as it revolves into something much bigger than everyone. Even in the film’s lone post-credit sequence plays up into this sense of a universe that is now shaken to its core as it all goes back to Thanos’ nihilistic idea of the universe in general. Overall, the Russo Brothers craft a visceral and rapturous film about a collection of heroes trying to stop a madman from destroying an entire universe.
Cinematographer Trent Opaloch does excellent work with the film’s cinematography in the way the planet Titan looks in its pink-like shading as well as the scenes in space along with the exteriors in New York City and other locations. Editors Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidtt do terrific work with the editing as it is conventional in terms of its approach to the action with its fast-cutting while allowing scenes to simmer as it does establish what is going on without going into frenetic speed cuts. Production designer Charles Wood, with set decorator Leslie Pope and supervising art director Ray Chan, does brilliant work with the look of the spaceships that Thanos has for the Black Order as well as the look of the different planets the characters go to as well as the Avengers home base and Wakanda. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does nice work with the costumes as it include the look of Spider-Man’s Iron-Spider suit as well as the clothes of the Black Order.
Special makeup effects artists Laura Dandridge, Andre Freitas, Bruce Spaulding Fuller, Tim J. Hays, Christopher Allen Nelson, and LuAndra Whitehurst do fantastic work with the look of the characters including the members of the Black Order and some of the smaller characters that Thor and Thanos would meet. Special effects supervisors Daniel Sudick and Patrick Edward White, along with visual effects supervisors Jeff Capogreco, Dan DeLeeuw, Varun Hadkar, Kelly Port, and Doug Spilatro, do incredible work with the visual effects as it play into the action including some chilling scenes involving Thanos and what he can do with his gauntlet as well as some of the powers that relate to Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and the other heroes. Sound designers David Farmer, Nia Hansen, and Shannon Mills, along with co-sound editor Daniel Laurie, do superb work with the sound as it play into some of the sound effects in the film as well as how some of the weapons sound and the noises the spaceships make. The film’s music by Alan Silvestri is phenomenal as it feature some soaring orchestral themes for the heroes as well as some somber pieces and some bombastic themes for Thanos while music supervisor Dave Jordan provides a fun soundtrack that includes Black Panther’s theme and the Spinners’ Rubberband Man to introduce the Guardians.
The casting by Sarah Finn is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Jacob Batalon as Peter’s friend Ned, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Benicio del Toro as the Collector, Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony’s fiancé Pepper Potts, Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s adopted brother Loki, Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister Princess Shuri, William Hurt as defense secretary Thaddeus Ross who wants Steve Rogers and other associates arrested, Peter Dinklage as the legendary weapons creator Eitri who helps Thor create a weapon to stop Thanos, Winston Duke as the Jabari tribe leader M’Baku, Danai Gurira as the Dora Milaje leader Okoye, Kerry Condon as the voice of Stark’s A.I. tech, Ariana Greenblatt as the young Gamora, and Benedict Wong as the mystic arts master Wong who helps Doctor Strange and Stark deal with members of the Black Order. In the roles of Thanos’ disciples in the Black Order, the performances of Terry Notary as the big monster Cull Obsidian, Michael James Shaw as the vicious Corvus Glaive, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor as the telekinetic Ebony Maw, and Carrie Coon as the powerful Proxima Midnight are superb as villains who are loyal to Thanos.
The performances of Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, and Sebastian Stan are superb in their respective roles as Sam Wilson/Falcon, James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier as members of the Avengers who take part in fighting Thanos’ forces with Rhodes being the one to defy the world’s council orders while Barnes feeling more at peace in his time in Wakanda. The performances of Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper/Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel/Terry Notary, and Karen Gillan are fantastic in their respective roles as Guardians of the Galaxy members Drax the Destroyer, Mantis, Rocket, Groot, and Nebula as the space warriors who are willing to fight Thanos with Bautista and Klementieff as the comic reliefs while Gillan provides a weighted role as Gamora’s adopted sister who has a legit grudge towards Thanos. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are excellent in their respective roles as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch and Vision as they provide some of the emotional moments in the film with Maximoff trying to protect Vision as she copes with the idea of losing him altogether.
Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana are brilliant in their respective roles as Peter Quill/Starlord and Gamora as members of the Guardians of the Galaxy who have fallen for each other as Pratt provides some humor in his banter towards Thor and Stark while Saldana brings a lot of weight to her role as Gamora who hates Thanos but knows she couldn’t lie to him. Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland are amazing in their respective roles as T’Challa/Black Panther and Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Boseman as the reserved king of Wakanda who leads the battle against Thanos in his country while Holland is funny as Parker who says a lot of pop culture things that annoys Stark and Doctor Strange. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. are remarkable in their respective roles as Steve Rogers/Captain America and Tony Stark/Iron Man as the two leaders of the Avengers who both battle Thanos in separate narrative threads as they endure the reality of their situation with Evans as a hardened Rogers who knows what needs to be done and Downey as a determined Stark who has issues with Thanos over the chaos he had brought to him many years before.
The performances of Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, and Mark Ruffalo in their respective roles as Doctor Steven Strange, Thor, and Bruce Banner/the Hulk are incredible with Cumberbatch being the mystic arts master who is trying to figure out every scenario as he’s protecting the time stone while Hemsworth brings a weighted performance as Thor who copes with failure and anger and Ruffalo provides a comical performance of sorts as Banner who endures anxiety over the Hulk’s brief fight with Thanos. Finally, there’s Josh Brolin in tremendous performance as Thanos as the alien despot who is hell-bent on destroying the universe as it’s a chilling performance that has Brolin using motion-capture to provide the terror of Thanos where it’s calm but eerie in the way he explains his motives as he creates a villain for the ages.
Avengers: Infinity War is a spectacular film from Joe and Anthony Russo. Featuring an incredible ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, high-octane set pieces, thrilling action sequences, a mesmerizing score, and a haunting story of destruction and nihilism. It’s a superhero blockbuster film that goes all out and more in terms of not just be entertaining but also going into places many films wouldn’t dare in delving into dark themes as well as the concept of loss in the grandest of ways. In the end, Avengers: Infinity War is a phenomenal film from Joe and Anthony Russo.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Ant-Man & the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Captain Marvel - Spider-Man: Far from Home
Post-Infinity Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Eternals – Spider-Man: No Way Home – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Thor: Love and Thunder – (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) - (Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania) - (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) – (The Marvels) – (Fantastic Four)
Related: MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 – Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7) - The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World
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