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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cindy Prascik's Review of Avengers: Infinity War

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for Avengers: Infinity War.
Regarding spoilers: Because it's essential to my overall impression of the movie, I have to drop a pretty consequential "what" without giving away the "who," "how," "where," or "when." If you are overly concerned, by all means, put this aside until after you've seen the movie.
Onward to the review that's nearly as long as the film...........
The Avengers & Company face their (and the universe's) greatest threat yet in the mighty Thanos.
As regular reader(s) may remember, I'm often a little vexed by Marvel. On the one hand, there's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, second only to The Dark Knight as a benchmark of excellence for the superhero genre...or any genre, really. On the other hand, there's Age of Ultron and Civil War, a.k.a. "the eight-dollar naps." Spoiler junkie that I am, I knew a lot about Infinity War going in, and I was prepared to be both bored and annoyed by it. Thanks to a great cast and some spot-on humor, I was neither.
Infinity War is a jumble of plotlines that share a common endgame, but that never really feel like the same story. Marvel has thrown just about everyone in its existing cinematic universe at the screen for this one, the exclamation point at the end of the MCU's first decade. While it's iconic seeing them all (sort of) together, in many ways it makes a mess the film can't quite clean up, even with its ... erm ... "considerable" runtime. There are some eye-popping special effects, yet there's some wonky CGI as well, which I never understand in movies that cost this much to make. Alan Silvestri's score, much like the picture itself, reaches for epic without ever quite getting there. I think most everyone expected consequential deaths in Infinity War, but the movie goes for quantity rather than quality with the cull. So safe is it to assume most of what's done will be undone in part two that it's impossible to invest in any of it. It's easy to become frustrated with a film that's not much more than a setup for the next one and that doesn't achieve much of consequence (at least not much you can expect to stick) in its own right.
The good news is Infinity War is a supremely enjoyable two and a half hours. Credit first goes to its extraordinary cast, which is a delight almost to a person, both individually and in tandem. Whoever your favorites are, it's a fair bet they won't have enough screen time for your liking, but, really, everyone works together so well it's hard to complain. Being aware of real-world considerations like how many films certain actors have left in their Marvel contracts or the Marvel rollout schedule through 2022 may keep fans from taking the film's mammoth losses too seriously, but such complacency is entirely absent onscreen, and the cast proves itself more than capable of the emotional heavy lifting. Special shout-outs to Benedict Cumberbatch, a boundless genius; Tom Holland, the picture's heart and soul; Robert Downey, Jr., who is as good here as he's ever been; and Sebastian Stan, who expresses more with a single word or look than most actors do with a franchise. It's also worth saying again (and again and again) that Bradley Cooper doesn't get half enough credit for what he achieves with a CGI raccoon. It's easy to write off that character as comic relief, but Cooper's evocative work always gives Rocket real depth. Amidst the high stakes and great losses, Infinity War also has some legitimately funny stuff. The humor is organic and well placed, and not once did I feel my usual annoyance with Marvel shoe-horning in jokes and wisecracks that are ill-timed or ill-advised or sometimes both. As the end credits rolled, I was delighted and not just a little surprised to realize I'd hardly felt the passage of two and a half hours. The last time I could say that about a Marvel movie was never.
Avengers: Infinity War clocks in at two hours and twenty-nine minutes, and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language, and some crude references."
Avengers: Infinity War is a big, fat mess and a tremendously good time, proof that a movie doesn't have to be technically great to be wholly worth seeing. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Avengers: Infinity War gets eight.
Until next time...

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