Sunday, September 16, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (BluRay) (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (BluRay) (2018): written by everybody; directed by Joe and Anthony Russo; starring everybody: Mostly diverting, overlong superhero slug-fest struggles to balance bombast and quippiness and mostly succeeds. 

The visuals and writing are a step down from zippier recent Marvel movies that include Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. The logistics of fitting all these characters into this story overwhelm all other considerations. Wit is at a premium.

To wit: six years ago, Thanos managed to lose control of two of the magical plot-device Infinity Gems when he had Loki lead his forces in an invasion of Earth in the first Avengers movie. At that time, a third stone was in the possession of the Ancient One on Earth. So Avengers was basically Operation Stumblebum for Thanos. Three of the six stones in his grasp! Then he fritters away six years and goes on a stone-collecting bender in the week or so leading into and through Infinity War. We all wrote high-school essays on pretty much the same last-minute timeline!

The plot thread starring Iron Man, Spider-man, and Dr. Strange is terrific. Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Pratt are all divertingly pissy while Spider-man looks on in wide-eyed bafflement. That most of the scenes in this thread take place either on a planet right out of a videogame cutscene or on a spaceship shaped like a donut seems weirdly appropriate. Though the designers of that flying donut really should have invested in double-walled bulkheads.

The climactic Wakanda battle scenes make little strategic or tactical sense, and suggest that, among other things, none of the Avengers or Wakandans have ever seen Zulu. Or read about military battles after the invention of projectile weapons. Wait, didn't Captain America FIGHT in World War Two?

Thanos has been much-changed from his tirelessly malevolent comic-book self into a mournful giant who desperately needs a hug that he never receives. Maybe in Part Two! Brolin invests the big purple fella with a certain bruised gravitas even if his master plan for the universe was stolen from the original series Star Trek episode "The Conscience of the King." 

The BluRay is a little thin in terms of interesting features, especially compared to the loaded Thor: Ragnarok BluRay of a few months back. The featurettes play more like long advertisements than anything substantive, there's nothing about the comic-book origins of Thanos, the gag reel is perfunctory, but the deleted scenes are sort of interesting. I'd guess a much more fully loaded BluRay will appear a couple of weeks before Infinity War 2 bows in April 2019. Recommended.

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