Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Review

Ok, so today I went to see Avengers: Infinity War in 3D! I really enjoyed myself, and I'm going to try and write up a review for it! I do have two warning before I begin. 1) This post will have SPOILERS, so if you haven't seen the movie, please do not continue reading. 2) I'm in no way a comic-book buff or Marvel guru. I've seen all the films, and I basically always enjoy them, but I've never been a hardcore fan, and thus my insight may be somewhat surface level. With that said, I'm excited to talk about my thoughts on this film!

First off, I had very high expectations coming into this movie. Usually, I enjoy Marvel films, but I don't love them. I appreciate how fun they are to watch, but I rarely find myself really immersed in their stories. Over the last few years, I've really started trying to organize my thoughts on fiction and story writing. This is one reason I made that old list of my top ten favorite stories. I am not trying to figure out what stories are objectively the best, I'm just trying to pinpoint what makes books, games, or films really stick with me. After watching HTTYD2, FMAB, and after playing FE Fates, I have come to the very real conclusion that I WANT stories to make me feel. I want them to be engaging enough to make me hang on every second the heroes are in peril. I want to see characters die, and not just random side characters. It sounds awful, but I think it is an incredibly powerful story-telling tool. If you are willing to sacrifice lovable characters, then it makes the peril and drama feel all the more real. It helps to remove the "plot armor". As such most Marvel movies have become less and less impressive to me on a story level. Sure, the occasional character will die, but they were either forgettable or an overt sacrificial lamb. Main characters never really felt like they were in danger, and as such, I became comfortable with the overall style of Marvel, and not in a good way. That being said, as this movie approached, I began to get my hopes up. Maybe this would be different. After all, what better time to break the mold than this epic third film? Maybe we would actually see some really drastic, plot-altering events that could not be undone. I determined that I would hold this superhero movie that I hold other stories to... which means it would need to live up to the level of emotional engagement that I felt in HTTYD2, FMAB, LotR, Undertale, or FE Fates. I was tired of giving Marvel slack just because their movies were fun. This was their opportunity to be bold in their story-telling, and I expected them to take it. 

I was not disappointed.

Right off the bat, characters died, and they died in ways that were harsh and shocking. I have always had a soft spot for Loki, and he was one of the first to go. I am thankful that he died protecting Thor, which was a beautiful way to complete his arch, but it was still sad to see him finally go. It was especially sad to see Thor truly alone in the universe, and his conversation later in the film with Rocket was pointed, powerful, and tragic. It really made me feel for this larger than life character, and that is quite an accomplishment. 

The death of Gamora was the most shocking and horrible to me. I was truly not expecting that coming into the film. A friend of mine is convinced that she is not dead permanently, that perhaps she is trapped in some sort of soul real, and I can totally see that, but it did not feel that way to me in the film. Her death was drawn out and painful. Plus, it had long-lasting impacts on both Thanos and Peter Quill. The fact that Quill appears to have ruined everything with his outburst of rage upon learning of Gamora's murder really makes the action feel human and real. Sure, it was stupid, and it certainly looks as though he ruined everything by losing control, but I felt for him. We were finally seeing the two characters willing to do anything for each other, and then to see him lose her... it was hard. I must say I was also EXTREMELY impressed with the scene where she asked him to swear to kill her if she was captured, and then the event actually went down. I was amazed at how agonizing that scene was, but I was also pleasantly shocked to see Quill pull the trigger. After all, he is such a goofy, emotional, spontaneous character... to see him follow through with something so horribly difficult was a real testament to how far he and Gamora will go for each other.

I loved Thor so much in this film. He was epic and funny... tragic and relatable. While Thor: Ragnarok had an extremely comedic tone, this film allowed Thor to actually feel the weight of his losses from each and every one of his past films. We see him lose his brother, his people, and his best friend. We then see him still processing the loss of his home, his father, and his mother. It is a beautiful piece of writing because it makes Thor feel vulnerable and human. Behind his brash and boisterous exterior, we see Thor genuinely hurting. I was deeply moved seeing Rocket "be the captain". He talked Thor through his feelings... exactly like Yondu talked Rocket through his conflicts in the second Guardians movie. That was a beautiful and subtle look at the legacy that the Guardians are building. It was interesting to see the extremes that Thor was driven by his grief and vengeance. He literally takes a full blast from the sun in order to craft a weapon with which he might kill Thanos. When he arrived at the final battle... what an epic entrance! He single-handedly handled a conflict that a whole army of other heroes was unable to master. Then, we see him use that weapon to overpower a blast from the Infinity Gauntlet and to mortally wound Thanos. That was so surprising, and it was brutal to see Thor nearly claim vengeance for his people and for his brother... Wow, such a powerful final scene.

Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, and Spiderman were amazing. I will say that the scene that was the most gut-wrenching was seeing Peter beginning to fade away, tearfully clinging to Tony Stark. That HURT. Dr. Strange has clearly mastered his abilities by the time of this film, and that was amazing to watch! I loved his interactions with Stark... starting with their annoyance toward one another, and ending in a mutual respect. The Iron Spider suit was super, super cool. I'd seen that suit in the comics, and I always thought that the extra legs were really interesting. 

When Tony Stark fought Thanos alone, I was deeply convinced that he was going to die. That was the power of this film. All plot armor was stripped away, and I was on the edge of my seat during that battle. I am really glad he survived, and I think Strange knows something we do not. Why would Strange hand over the infinity stone in order to save Tony? I think we see the answer when Strange fades away. After all, he has seen the future, and he has seen millions of failed attempts to defeat Thanos. Perhaps this was the one way to win. He gives up the stone because the one successful future is a future where Tony Stark is alive. As he fades, he tells Tony that this was the only way. He is cool and confident as he does so... and that is because he knows exactly what future he has set a course for. I'm very excited by the idea that Strange knows that Stark is a key to victory, and I think if the writing of the upcoming films is well done... we will see more clearly exactly how clever Dr. Strange was!

I do feel like Vision got the rough end of the deal. Sure, he is used to being the most advanced piece of technology in existence, and now he is dealing with alien weaponry that he is vulnerable to, but it was a shame to see such a powerful hero do so little in this movie. His death feels very permanent, and I worry that we won't get him back.

Bottom line, as soon as Loki said, "We have a Hulk." I knew I was going to enjoy this movie. When Loki died so nobly, I felt confident that the movie was going in the right direction. When Gamora fell... I was stunned and impressed, and from that point on, the tension and excitement continued to rise. I really want to see the film again, and I am very hopeful that the writers have something very clever up their sleeves for the next movie. It is an incredibly bleak ending, but it reminds me very much of The Two Towers. As Samwise Gamgee said:

"It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here... but we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was after so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances to turn back, only they didn't. They kept going... because they were holding onto something."

"What are we holding onto, Sam?"

"That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for."

So, yeah, I do love those kinds of tales, and I think this newest Marvel movie actually fell right into the category. It is one of the great stories. 

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