'Avengers: Infinity War' review: fierce, funny and boldly ambitious

Our decade-long tryst with Marvel culminates in a battleground that’s both fierce and funny

Updated - April 28, 2018 02:51 pm IST

Published - April 27, 2018 12:35 pm IST

  The final battle:  A scene from  Infinity War  with the superheroes at Wakanda.

The final battle: A scene from Infinity War with the superheroes at Wakanda.

Ten years and 18 films later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives audiences the mother of all crossovers with Avengers: Infinity War . It’s a daunting task to accomplish: introducing more than 20 characters to each other and staying faithful to an overarching premise, while remaining economical with time. The brothers Russo — Anthony and Joe — do accomplish the feat. Clocking in at two-and-a-half hours, Infinity War is boldly ambitious with more soaring moments than weaknesses.

With Marvel’s latest, the Russos take the trope of every superhero film — an evil villain intent on destroying the world — and fashion a crafty antagonist. Thanos (Josh Brolin) is a metaphor for all the tyrants and dictators that we’ve seen before and continue to be plagued by. Fuelled by their delusions of grandeur and propriety, despots are willing to trade lives for a supposed better tomorrow. The Big Bad wants the six infinity stones to kill half of the living beings in the universe to ensure the perpetuation of the remaining lives.

Infinity War picks up after the events of Captain America: Civil War , where the Marvel heroes have disbanded (“Like the Beatles?” asks Bruce Banner, incredulously). The proceedings hurtle fast and hard, with nary a moment to sit back and rest. To some, this could veer toward exhaustion, but the Russo brothers unabashedly charge forward. The film oscillates between the various superhero factions formed before culminating in a goosebump-inducing, slack-jawed climax that will take a whole agonising year to resolve.

While the film’s intense dedication to saving the universe is unwavering, its punctuating humour — a hallmark of any Marvel film — perfectly alleviates the brevity. The Russo brothers seamlessly incorporate their predecessors’ vision. Not once are the collision of personalities underwhelming, with one compromising their right of way for another. In that, Iron Man’s (Robert Downey Jr.) meeting with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) — who possesses the time stone — abounds in hilarious cockiness and witty one-liners. With teen Spider-man in the mix, it gets even more comical. On the other hand, Star Lord’s (Chris Pratt) silliness brilliantly complements a post-Taika Waiti (director of Ragnarok ) Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Rocket’s (Bradley Cooper) acerbic wit with a blunt Drax (Dave Bautista) only heighten the mirth.

But is Infinity War the best Marvel film to date? Not really. With standalone ventures, the scope of a languid pace is a more balanced approach. Two-and-a-half-hours is a long time to be constantly sitting on the edge of a seat. Plus, in bringing so many superheroes together, the film clouds its audience’s better judgement. Thanos’ tame villainy (albeit invincibility) pales in comparison to the sheer volume of cheer-out-loud moments and adrenaline-eliciting sequences. It’s mischievous, this deceit, when you think about it. But it’s gladly welcome — with fallen jaws, dilated pupils and plenty of popcorn to boot — as well as the long wait for the sequel.

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