Avengers: Infinity War - Movie Review

Well, the superbowl of super-hero movies is finally here - Avengers Infinity War!! And it is smashing all sorts of box-office records since its release weeks back. I jumped onto this a bit late as I was traveling the release weekend and so I sensibly avoided all social media till last Thursday when I finally managed to watch it on the big screen. And hells come alive, a good thing too!

Because this was it - This behemoth record-smashing epic culmination of the last ten years of Marvel movies. This was where the last eighteen MCU movies were leading up to.  This giant throw-down where all our favourite heroes across space and time come together to pit their wills against one mean megalomaniacal purple war-monger tyrant named Thanos ( Who's been in the shadows for far too long without his due!) to save the universe. We know there's trouble brewing because Thanos has got his own brand of justice for this world, where resources are getting scarce and people are anyways dying of hunger. Once he gets all the six infinity stones in the universe, a snap of his fingers, that is all it will take to bring about this massive genocide.

So there's been a mega hype surrounding this movie - and all the questions were centred around whether the Russo brothers would be able to pull this off, this mega-stunt stretching across multiple storylines melding together all the heroes we have come to love and worship from the past movies - all that in a two and half hour timeline and also give us a believable CGI Villain, who would not only test our heroes but hopefully have a little depth than just be a cardboard cut-out OTT character with a maniacal laughter.

Safe enough to say that Avengers - Infinity War lives up and goes beyond that hype. Laying all speculations to rest, blowing our minds to smithereens, making us laugh-gawk-and-gasp by bits and finally shocking us to silence leaving us tottering on the edge of this precipice with that cliff-hanger of an ending. ( Yeah well, if you haven't seen the movie till date, then you still know how it ends, don't you? But know that it's a 2-part movie, just as same as the comics. And while the book-nerds know how this turns out, we still couldn't help but gasp in disbelief at the onscreen rendition of Thanos' genocidal ambitions.)

Enough of that shocker of an ending. Speculations are rife about what would transpire next. I think we all have our theories steeped in good faith and drenched in irrepressible optimism that Thanos will get what is due. Bated breath, until next year.

The movie begins unlike any other Marvel movie, setting the grim reaper mood right at the beginning - Starting on the vessel escaping from Asgard, at the end of Thor: Raganorak. The ominous hiss of Ebony Maw as he explains the ' salvation' that the Asgardians onboard are going to be subject to, is a premonition of how this movie is going to play out. The shadow of death and destruction starts to loom pretty big. The stakes are real and established pretty much from there on. That the universe is going to pay. Thanos' intro is without much fanfare but it's pretty hard hitting as we realize that two of our biggest avengers are like limp rag-dolls being tossed around and pummeled to submission by this big purple guy. Hulk and Thanos' trade blows toe-to-toe and then as the inevitable unfolds on the screen when Hulk gets thrashed and thrown away, we know things are going south.

Banner escapes to earth - and conveys his fears and misgivings to Tony Stark who's trying to balance a normal life with Pepper Pots yelling at him on the phone for being negligent about his own health, while still trying to come to terms with the after effects of the civil war. Things devolve soon enough with Thanos' children descending to NYC. The fight that follows is every bit thrilling and nail biting as any MCU movie climax. Iron-man meets Doctor Strange and forms an unlikely partnership, both brilliant and eccentric tasked with saving the world and time. Peter Parker joins in, wanting to prove his worth to his mentor Tony and things get chaotic and messy very soon.

We switch over to Star-Lord and his band of misfits who, by fluke have saved the galaxy not once but twice, who happen to save Thor. The message of doom soon gets through to them as well - indeed, as Gamora who happens to be Thanos' daughter ( adopted!) confirms his genocidal ambitions. hopping across stars and time. He needs a few more of the powerful artifacts, known as the Infinity Stones. and he's close to getting pretty much all six. The group splits up - Gamora and Peter Quill deciding to ambush Thanos' while Rocket and sulky teenager Groot root for Thor's revenge, going to an abandoned planet in the hope of forging that deadly weapon, Stormbreaker - the only weapon strong enough to cleave the mad Titan's head.

The third important storyline is that of Vision and the Scarlet Witch, madly in love with each other and flirting secretly in the idyllic rock-cut mansions of Scotland. Their love is rudely interrupted by Thanos' children/ generals - Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight ( interestingly, a husband-wife pair pitted against another!) - There's the dramatic re-entry of Steve Rogers, minus the shield and his uniform but still managing to look regal and charismatic as ever. His elite taskforce of the rebel Avengers, Natasha and Falcon save the day for Vision and the mind-stone embedded in his forehead, whisking him off to the technological stronghold of, wait for it, Wakanda! Reuniting with our favorites T'Chala and his gang.

The ultimate showdown is inside Wakanda as Thanos' throws his army of outriders against the might of the Wakandans united with Avengers and Guardians. In a mad melee of explosive mind-blowing action sequences featuring  thrill-a-minute encounters, both personal one-on-ones and sweeping battlefield strikes.

So as you would have realized, there are multiple threads and storylines that ebb and flow through the tense narrative as we are taken on a space-hopping trip with different "bands" of heroes - including one of my all-time favorite bunch, the guardians of the galaxy - striving hard to save the universe. It's wall-to-wall with jokes, action and drama in there. It's epic and operatic just as we imagined the onscreen rendition of this comic event would be. Almost three hours of reel time of not just CGI action set pieces but drama and suspense. Sure there is bloat as you would imagine it to be, wherein the Russo brothers try to reel in close to thirty different superheroes - all centered around Thanos.

So yes - the Infinity War is about Thanos. That rock around which the different narratives part and flow. Josh Brolin lends gravitas to his rendition of the mad Titan - not just that imposing physical presence but an emotional depth, an honest sincerity in pursuing his goal of "cleaning" up the universe to make it a better place. You root for him as the scenes with Gamora unfolds on the screen. He's not the empty-headed megalomaniac as other villains of the MCU have been made out to be (with the exception of Killmonger!). But a man with a plan, ruthless yes as any power-monger would be but still, you cannot help but start to feel for this purple giant.

This Marvel Magnum Opus is remarkable in that it gives all the heavyweights, our favorite heroes, fair screen-space including that one fan-yodlee movement as we scream our lungs out in the theater cheering them on. Iron-man with his smart quips meets his match in the trademark straight-faced jibes from the brilliant Doctor Strange - the initial moments as they establish a cautious partnership laced with acerbic wit, cautiously stepping around their huge egos - with Hulk/Banner providing the fillers is an absolute delight. Hulk refuses to come out and this in a way ensures that Mark Ruffalo gets some of the best lines in the movie. His monologues trying to reason with Hulk are outright hilarious. But the most charming group still is the misfit Guardians - Drax and Rocket are in blazing form. Thor joins in on the fun with his inimitable good humor, even while dealing with death/loss of his Asgardian family. Peter Quill I thought was annoying. Gamora unused. Nebula surprisingly has a fairly critical role to play, which came off as a surprise. Peter Parker gets anointed as an Avenger in the most unlikely circumstances and he's got his lines as well. Then there's this absolutely goose-bumpy dramatic moment as Wanda fending off Proxima is derided that "You'll die alone!" only to be joined in by Okoyo and Black Widow, who quietly assure her that she's not alone, fending off the Black Order. My personal favorite of course is Thor - who makes a super-bowl crowd-thumping re-entry to save the day in Wakanda wielding Stormbreaker ( The Led Zep Immigrant song is missed!) lightning zipping off him in wild streaks.

The movie is made up of such fascinating moments laced together. There are a lot of interesting moral questions tossed around in the movie. Easter eggs abound as you would imagine for any Marvel movie. But at the end of it all, as you collect your drooping jaw sweeping the floor, emotionally devastated and mind in a tropical tizzy, you realize there was probably no other fitting manner for this showdown. A highly potent cocktail of super-hero dramatics exploding on-screen pitted against the best villain we've had till now, this movie is definitely the treat we fans have been waiting for. 


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