SPOILER ALERT: I'm not going to get into any overt spoilers here, but if you haven't seen the film you may just want to wait until you've watched it to read any reviews.
Is it even possible for a compelling narrative to emerge when there are so many characters and plot lines to cover? That's the question I found myself asking after watching Avengers: Infinity War. You'd think that if there were any hope for such a thing to happen, this many superheroes would be able to pull it off.
I don't think they really are.
In no way is that meant as a slight to the performances, which I thought were quality all around. Josh Brolin gives a particularly noteworthy performance as the mega-villain Thanos. My issue is with the premise of loading so many concurrent plot lines into one film, but this is the inevitable destination on the Marvel Cinematic Universe journey we've all found ourselves on.
I've said before that the superhero genre is not my favorite. That's not to say I don't enjoy the films or that I don't acknowledge their place in our current movie culture. I'm so glad that these films are bringing people into the theater, and that they are opening up a new generation to the wonders of what cinema can do. And some of them are fine films in their own right.
I think Avengers: Infinity War plants itself firmly in the - meh - section of the Marvel films. Maybe it's one of the better - meh - ones. At all times, there was simply too much going on for me to get fully invested in any one plot thread. I enjoyed the movie, but I don't feel a particular motivation to go see it again any time soon.
The film did have its moments, however. In one battle sequence, Thor comes down from above and obliterates his enemies with a powerful weapon. It is a rousing sequence set with the familiar Avengers theme in the background. It was easily my favorite moment in the film, and the only one that brought about any major emotional reaction for me. Even that sequence has been met with some controversy from Marvel die-hards, though I won't get into particulars for the sake of spoilers.
Thanos is a fine villain, but I never got the sense that his intentions were set up quite right. We're told why he wants to use the Infinity Stones to obliterate half the population, and we're even shown some flashback scenes that are meant to get us to buy into his character intentions. But it all felt lacking to me. The movie would have been far more powerful if I had been able to buy into his intentions - however craven - in a visceral way similar to how Killmonger was so artfully set up in Black Panther.
In any case, I do have to admit that it is fun to see all these characters together. All our heroes are back, and one thing Marvel has done incredibly well is that they've developed the heroes so well over time that we do feel invested in their storylines. The only problem is that there's just never enough time in this film to fully grab onto any one of them. One Marvel film that toed this line better, in my opinion, was Captain America: Civil War, though that film didn't have quite as many mouths to feed. I especially enjoyed going back to Wakanda so soon after Black Panther. I felt those were the best scenes in the film.
No matter how I feel about it, Infinity War has done just fine at the box office. The latest numbers show it creeping close to $2 billion in total worldwide gross.
While I won't go anywhere near discussing the ending in detail, I will say it left me at a place where I'm intrigued about where this saga will go. I think Infinity War did what it was supposed to do and moved the Universe forward. It entertained me during its runtime, though I will say it felt a little long.
Adding all of that together left me with a feeling of neither hot or cold, but just a little more than lukewarm. I'd rather have a visceral reaction to a film, even if it's negative. Still, if you're a fan of Marvel movies, I'd imagine you enjoyed this film a great deal. And even if you aren't a fan, I think the film is entertaining enough, though it may fade in your memory as you leave the theater.
I don't think it's asking too much of a film to have it both entertain me and move me in some way. This film entertained me just fine, but I wasn't moved at all.
Note on content: The film is rated PG-13 and is very similar to other Marvel movies in terms of mature content. The main thing to note is the violence. Though I didn't find it to be grotesque or gory at any point, there is sci-fi violene throughout the film. There is no nudity, and the sexual content is only a few suggestive lines sprinkled in along with your run-of-the-mill tight superhero clothing. There is also profanity throughout the film, but it is certainly not excessive. As I said, it's very similar to any of the other Marvel movies in terms of mature content.