Tuesday, June 25, 2024

REVIEW Can it Be Done? Disney-Marvel Looks to Top Themselves After “Black Panther” with “Avengers: Infinity War”


This winter has been a wild ride for Disney and Marvel: their “Black Panther” is now the third biggest movie of all time. It’s historic and a phenomenon. So now what?

Now what is “Avengers: Infinity War” which opens technically tomorrow night. This is the third “Avengers” movie with one more to come, but it’s also the umpteenth movie with a rotating cast of characters, some of which have had other movies like Iron Man, Spider Man, Thor, his brother Loki, Peter Quill and his guardians of the galaxy, and so on.

Nearly all the Marvel characters from the Disney movies are in “Infinity War” with the exception, notably, of Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury (kind of). Some are under used, like Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. This is a hard movie to describe because everyone wants to know what happens and no one wants to know what happens. The IMDB lists characters who aren’t even in the movie. So we walk a fine line.

I guess the main thing to know here is that Thanos is the villain, played so beautifully by Josh Brolin that I really started to like him despite his obvious shortcomings. Thanos is the Bashar al-Assad of Marvel movies. I don’t know if there’s an intentional political undercurrent, but you’re going to recognize it. He is psychotically interested in causing death.

The main Avengers are determined to repel him, and they include Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch (she really shines in this film), Zoe Saldana as Gamora (ditto), and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. To a lesser degree we do see Tom Holland as Spider Man, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Pratt and his gang from “Guardians,” and of course– because they are hot right now– Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa from “Black Panther” and Letitia Wright and Danira Gurai.

“Infinity War” is full of thrilling stuff as characters who do not know each other cross over, and mix it up. Tom Holland is fun as he meets other super heroes and asks if they’re using their real names or their aliases. The directors, the Russo Brothers, don’t have a lot of time for characters to work in their back stories or prior relationship because the action never stops– but that’s okay. By now we know a lot of it.

As we’re coming to the end of this series– maybe– and this is part 3 (kind of ) the Russos know we are getting rid of some people, seeking closure (kind of). So yes, characters do die. There seem to be two kinds of death– definite death, contained within the story structure, and seems real. Then there’s another kind of death, that feels implausible but happens nevertheless. You have to watch this movie to the very, very end, through the credits, and then some, and we are still left with questions. Lots of them. Luckily, in a year, we may get some answers.

At last night’s press screening, the audience was silent– SILENT– from about the last ten minutes, through the credits, and the usual Marvel end teaser. I mean, no one stood up, no one left. When everything was over, to the last drop, the ushering out was also like you could hear a pin drop. I don’t know what’s happened in the LA screenings. But “Infinity War” takes chances like no other super hero film. It’s a big roll of the dice. Will it be worth it? I have think so. But I’m curious about reactions.

Some last minute things: I just love Danai Gurira. I really want to see more of her on film. Also, not stressed by their own movies a lot of the guys seemed more relaxed– like Chris Evans and Chadwick Boseman. Benedict Cumberbatch is a tremendous actor– there are Cary Grant type roles for him somewhere. And I do wish I’d seen more of Falcon. Josh Brolin rocks.

Otherwise, “Infinity War” is an A, I’d give it a 90+ or whatever, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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