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Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War
Dir. Russo Brothers

Ten years ago, Disney's Marvel studios sat down and mapped out a plan for a shared, cinematic universe. It would be unprecedented in scale and a major risk. Spider-Man and the X-Men, Marvel's two biggest comic properties were in the hands of rivals, so they would have to build the box office success on lesser known heroes, Iron Man, Captain America and company. 2008 saw the release of The Incredible Hulk and then Iron Man, to varying degrees of success. Fast forward to 2018 and the MCU is a vast media entity, worth billions of dollars, coming off the back of one of their most successful movies and flooding the market with copycats.

And so, it is with this history and success behind it, that the first part of the Avenger's finale debuts and boy is it good. It is a popcorn blockbuster of gargantuan proportions, immaculately produced, wonderfully acted and carefully crafted. Marvel and every one involved, from the Russo brothers, the production team, the cast and crew could have dialled it in and still produced a massive hit but that is not what happens here. For all the bombast and brilliantly choreographed/animated action, there is genuine heart and a very human story...even if that human story features a big, purple/pink alien.

Thanos is that alien, a hulking piece of CGI, sincerely and subtly brought to life by Josh Brolin and the boffins behind the scenes. He is a CGI character to rival Gollum or Caesar. Most importantly, he is one of the best written villains in all cinema...yes I went there, not just comic book movies or this particular genre, I really do mean all cinema. The backstory is fleshed out but avoids being too overwhelming, his relationships, a key aspect of the story are brought to the fore and his motivations laid bare. He is a maniac, make no mistake about it, a mass murdering sociopath but like Darth Vader before him, he does so in a world of delusion, fuelled by hate and despair. the final hurdle he must jump to attain the power he has so longed for is a Greek tragedy in scale. Agamemnon eat your heart out. All this in what is supposed to be a brainless CGI fest.

The heroes sadly are not as well fleshed out, with Captain America being the biggest name to just...well to just be there. He is heroic, we all know that and that is all he does, heroic things. There is no character development or even a story arc. The same can be said for the rest of his crew (Black Widow, War Machine and co). Iron Man, Spider-Man and Dr Strange not only receive more screen time but a genuine plot and the conclusion of it feels heartfelt, if a bit cheesy at times. Ditto for the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are the funniest and most charming part of the entire feature.

A juggling act this impressive requires impressive planning and a meticulous attention to detail. Are we surprised that the Russos, with their success in the Captain America franchise, managed to pull it off? I am a little, they were good before, they are great here. The scenes are paced almost perfectly, Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings trilogy would be proud. The editing and story telling is so sublime that the 140 minute or so of run time whizzes by and at the end of it all, you are left breathless and wanting more. In an age of big budget, low grade blockbusters, that is all I want. Yet I do not want anyone to think Infinity War is the best of a bad bunch.

No, as a cinematic triumph it stands alongside Terminator 2, the aforementioned Ring trilogy and some of Spielberg's best work. This is a must watch and whatever score I give or you see floating around the internet is irrelevant.