So here we are. Part 1 of the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phases 1-3.
UPDATE: I went to see this twice. The second time was because I felt I needed to watch it with a more critical eye now that I know the story, and see if my earlier opinion still holds up.
Spoilers follow, naturally.
The Things I Liked
- Cap’s entrance with the Avengers‘ theme music playing. I really liked how the music came in. It fit the scene so well.
- Loki. While I have things I dislike about his scenes (and I’ll get to that in the next section), I did like that he was clearly with the “good guys” here. Tom Hiddleston did so well in showing Loki’s attempt to call Thanos’s bluff over killing Thor, and the subsequent giving in and his giving up the Tesseract. The “We have a Hulk” line coming from him was a great reversal too.
I… like(?) that Loki died. Or rather, I think that this was a reasonable end to the character after all the previous movies. His arc does feel complete. And the look he throws Thor when he names himself “Odinson”! Oh, my heart. Truly a complete character arc. I just wish it hadn’t been such a foolish way to die.
UPDATE: I am now certain that I am perfectly all right with this being the end of Loki. If they bring him back in part 2, I will be… annoyed. And happy. Because I do really, really enjoy watching Tom Hiddleston play Loki. But I also like complete character arcs and this completes Loki’s arc. (Unless they prove me wrong and give him a better ending.) Such an internal dilemma for me.
- The scenes between Tony Stark and Dr. Strange were pretty fun to watch. They quite naturally annoyed each other. They’re too similar to not find the other one annoying. XD
- Peter Parker staggering over to Tony at the end. “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good… I don’t want go, sir. I’m sorry.” (Or something like that – the exact order of those phrases escapes me.) One of the most emotional moments in the film. Tom Holland truly sounded like a kid – which is what Peter Parker is – and there was fear and dread in his face. Excellently acted. *applauds*
- I thought the scene between Thor and Rocket in the pod was very well-acted too. Thor was putting a brave face on but even he couldn’t help having a trembling voice and getting near tears. When you think about it, Thor has really had it rough of late in the MCU. His father dies; his evil crazy half-sister appears and takes over the planet (killing some of his closest friends in the process) and stabs him in the eye; his planet is destroyed; and he just barely gets away with the remnant of his people and his somewhat reformed brother… Then Thanos shows up and kills the remaining Asgardians, Heimdall, and Loki. I would not blame Thor if he’d just crumpled to the ground and bawled.
- Okoye. Okoye is basically fun and awesome and was my favourite thing in Black Panther (which I forgot to review). She gets some good bits here too. I especially like the quip about expecting to host the Olympics (versus having aliens invade the country).
- Red Skull reappearing. That was the one moment in the film that made me gasp in shock. It was a minor part, but it was the most unexpected thing. Pity it wasn’t Hugo Weaving, but it was such a small part that it wasn’t very noticeable that the actor was different. haha
- Thor calling Rocket Raccoon “rabbit” throughout the movie was hilarious. (Though I am very surprised that Rocket made not one attempt to correct him.)
- They “killed” most of the Guardians off at the end. As I have no attachment to them, and as I found Peter Quill an annoyance here, my main feeling to that was: “Oh, good.” And Thanos conveniently left the core, original Avengers alive so yay, hopefully Steve Rogers will get more screentime in part 2.
- I like that they put a new twist on the Hulk by having him refuse to appear despite Banner’s pleas. It made Banner rather useless in the story, but at least that was a change from having him turn into the big green guy.
The Things I Didn’t Like
- The repetitiveness of this movie. Scenes and scenarios repeated themselves too many times. And nothing advanced.
It felt like a cycle of “good guys face Thanos and/or his minions, and lose” over and over again. Every sub-group ended up that way (though there were small victories in between). Thor, Loki, and Hulk lose to Thanos & co. Strange and Stark lose to Maw and Maw takes Strange away. Gamora, Peter, Drax, and Mantis lose to Thanos because it was a trap laid for Gamora. Tony, Strange, Spider-man, Peter, Drax, Mantis, and Nebula lose to Thanos. And in the end, everyone else loses to Thanos too.
Did anyone else notice how nearly identical Dr Strange and Loki’s poses were when they pulled the Eye of Agamotto/Tesseract out of thin air? Seriously. Why did that have to be so similar? (I was also puzzled by Thanos’s remark about Strange’s “tricks.” It felt like something was mixed up there because Loki’s the one associated with tricks…)
There was the scenario of “Please kill me, person-I-love-who-also-loves-me.” Vision says Wanda has to destroy the stone in his head, thereby killing him. Gamora begs Peter to kill her if Thanos gets her. Both Wanda and Peter say no way. Peter Quill finally acquiesces but he doesn’t carry out his promise until it’s too late to do so. Wanda refuses until she sees there really is no other option.
And there was the “I’m making this choice that benefits Thanos to save you” theme. Loki produces the Tesseract, hoping that the distraction will give Hulk the opening needed to smash Thanos and save Thor. (Then he leaves it on the floor for the minions to pick up. That was unnaturally stupid of Loki. Granted, he’d dashed forward to knock Thor out of the way but still… It wasn’t like Loki to just drop something that important.) Gamora tells Thanos the location of the Soul Stone to stop his torture of Nebula. Dr. Strange gives Thanos the Time Stone to save Tony Stark. And guess what? In all cases, the person making that decision dies.
If these repeated scenes and themes had had different endings, that might have worked out better. For example, if Wanda managed to destroy the Mind Stone before Thanos got hold of the Time one. Or something. Perhaps it was for dramatic effect – perhaps the filmmakers thought we needed to really feel hopeless. But I don’t think the choices they made in this regard worked.
- I felt there was some mischaracterisation or odd treatment of Thor’s and Loki’s abilities. We just established in Thor: Ragnarok that Thor no longer needs a weapon to focus his powers. He’s a walking weapon as it is – he could summon lightning without his hammer. But here… He seems usless in the opening scene; we never see him even try to summon lightning. I really thought that when Thanos was choking Loki, Thor was going to go all glowy-eyed again and burst forth, blazing with lightning. He didn’t. And then he spends half the movie on Nidavellir to get Eitri to make him a new weapon. What was the point of that?! And what was the point of his personal arc in Thor: Ragnarok then?
With Loki, it’s similar. We’ve always been told that Loki is clever, a slick talker, exceptional at magic, and specialises in illusions. Why… Did he not cast a single illusion here… Why did he just drop the Tesseract? And why did he do the terribly silly thing of trying to stab Thanos? Maybe it was supposed to be a desperate move. If it was, it wasn’t telegraphed well enough. It felt a little out-of-character, and undermined Loki’s death a little.
- Speaking of undermining death… The Time Stone undermines EVERYTHING. It’s a big deus ex machina in the form of a small shiny rock. And it’s something I saw coming since it was introduced in Doctor Strange. What I didn’t see coming was the number of protagonists who would “die” at the end of this movie. But Thanos himself demonstrates how the Time Stone can (and will) reverse everything. He’s practically showing us what will happen in part 2. So Spidey, Strange, nearly all the Guardians, Falcon, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and Bucky turn to dust because of Thanos. Doesn’t matter. There’s 100% chance they’re all going to return to life sometime during part 2. Vision’s return is a bit in doubt, but highly likely. It’s also highly likely that Gamora will be magically resurrected. Loki’s return is less likely (and I want him to stay dead).
The Time Stone’s existence means there are no consequences here. All those people who “died” at the end are going to come back to life in part 2. It’s taking away from the emotional impact of those scenes.
If they’d dared, killing off Steve Rogers and Tony Stark would’ve been far more impactful and shocking. (I would’ve cracked inside – Loki dead, Steve dead – but the more critical part of me would have applauded them.) For one thing, there’d be much less certainty that those characters would return. But maybe they’ll do that in part 2.
- Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, was irritating. Yes, he was funny when they picked Thor up and he had an inferiority complex after seeing his friends in awe of Thor’s magnificent physique. But after that he wasn’t very entertaining. He felt very egotistical… And that’s saying something when you have other arrogant, egotistical characters like Tony Stark and Dr. Strange around. Maybe the character hasn’t been through the level of trauma that Tony or Dr. Strange have – Tony in particular has had some edges softened a bit over the course of 3 Iron Man movies, 2 Avengers movies, and Captain America: Civil War. Or maybe it’s because Tony and Dr. Strange are actually really intelligent people, so their arrogance has some basis. With Peter Quill, the ego seems unjustified, and more so when he’s next to those two.
- The battle at Wakanda was messy. Too frenetic – I barely even saw the weird creatures that were swarming the barrier shield. There is hardly a close-up or a slow-motion shot for you to see what they are. They’re just random creatures that have teeth and claws. And up until Wanda and Vision get drawn out into the fight, it is quite difficult to tell what exactly is happening on the battlefield. It wasn’t particularly interesting.
UPDATE: Even after two viewings, I still can’t really say what those creatures look like… Teeth, claws, maybe six limbs?
- Some parts of this film were a little too dark in lighting and colour. The worst were the initial scenes on Nidavellir. When Eitri (who, seriously, is the most gigantic dwarf I’ve ever seen) talks about Thanos saying his hands belong to Thanos now, I couldn’t see what had happened to his hands. I assume they were locked in chains or something.
UPDATE: The second viewing helped here. This time, when Eitri peered over the edge of the smelting cauldron to look at the melting metal, I noticed that his hands seemed to be caked in metal.
- Steve Rogers had too little to do and too little to say. Many of them got very limited screentime, but lack of Steve is what I notice most. hahahah
That said, I understand that this is the result of trying to cram some 30 protagonists into the story. Even in the first Avengers movie, someone had to take the back seat – and that someone was Hawkeye. So here, Tony Stark and Thor were clearly the leading roles, with (I think) Spider-Man, Gamora, Doctor Strange, and Wanda taking the secondary lead places. Everyone else kinda got shoved into the back. Hmm. No, the Guardians actually had substantial screentime. Because nearly all of them are gone by the end of this movie? Guess so.
The Random Remarks
- When Stark’s team were struggling to pull the gauntlet off Thanos’s hand, and when Mantis had put him into a semi-conscious state, why did not Peter Quill or Nebula just hack off Thanos’s whole arm?? We were never told or shown that Thanos has iron skin or anything. You can hurt him. And when he was at his most helpless… None of them thought to simply cut off his arm. As with the Thor lightning thing, I expected someone to try that. Try it, and show the audience that no, it’s not so easy to cut Thanos’s arm off and that’s why they have to yank it off his hand instead. But they didn’t even try the obvious solution. I fully expected Quill to do that. Instead he opts for gloating. Ugh.
- Felt weird to see Captain America without his usual shield. :/
- Dr. Strange all but told us that everything will be okay. He says he’s seen more than 14 million probabilities, and in only one of those do they defeat Thanos. Then he gives up the Time Stone to save Tony Stark (despite earlier saying he wouldn’t hesitate to let Stark or “the kid” die in order to save the stone). And his last line is something like, “There was no other way.” I think that was literal. Tony Stark had to live because in the only probability where Dr. Strange saw them winning, Tony Stark was alive. I’m not sure if I like it being that obvious or not. Hmmm.
- They gave Thanos a lot of screentime and backstory to explain his motivations. I presume this was to make him sympathetic. But nope. I feel not one drop of sympathy or liking for this character. I can’t even buy that he truly cared about Gamora. The Vulture was more sympathetic than Thanos. So was Loki. Heck, even Killmonger (whom I didn’t care for) was more sympathetic. The screentime given to Thanos was wasted on me emotionally. Yet perhaps it was necessary for the narrative..?
- I was disappointed that Hawkeye wasn’t in this movie, but he’ll probably be in the next movie. (Feels likely that his family will have been part of the population that Thanos killed off, so he’ll reappear raring to go and avenge his family.)
- “Pirate angel.” xD
- I probably should recognise the locations of the scenes set in Edinburgh. And the street on which Vision and Wanda walk together feels familiar. But sometimes these streets look rather alike so I may not actually have walked up that particular one. The train station roof was not very distinctive, but once told the location is Edinburgh, I can picture it in my mind’s eye because no other place in Edinburgh looked like that. I’m convinced I’ve seen the location where Wanda fights off the Female Minion (whatever her name is) and I… am not sure but I feel like I should know that church where the Other Minion is trying to get the stone off Vision.
UPDATE: I DO KNOW THOSE PLACES. Cockburn Street – I have walked there! The Royal Mile – I have walked there many times… I have photos of that exact place too I think. St. Giles Cathedral – definitely been there (though obviously not on the roof); it was one of the first touristy things I did in Edinburgh. And Waverley Station – been there a bunch of times. And I’m pretty sure the Edinburgh Castle is in view as the quinjet door shuts.
- That post-credits scene. As I’m not particularly interested in Captain Marvel, it did nothing for me. But people who are excited about it will of course be jumping up and down in delight.
- UPDATE: It surprises me how much death was portrayed on screen. Not just in the sense of random dead soldiers, but prominent characters… Thanos strangles Loki and we see it happen (and the second time round, the Thor POV shot of Thanos with the motionless body of Loki in his grip really got to me). Thanos flings Gamora off a cliff and we see her fall. I’m thankful they didn’t show the actual impact. Thanos rips the stone out of Vision’s head, the body goes all grey, and he drops it unceremoniously.
Am not fond of all that. I’m not a fan of graphic displays of violence, although these are nothing in comparison to some other stuff in movies and TV these days.
- Did Valkyrie die too? And Korg? (Presumably yes.) Where was Nakia? And what happened to Pepper’s having Extremis? Is Sif ever going to reappear??
I had to think hard about this movie after I came out of the cinema. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. I liked lots of little moments, but clearly (as seen above), about half of my “dislikes” are deeper problems – characterisation, repetition, the overly-convenient Time Stone – which might be why it was difficult for me to figure out why I wasn’t thrilled with the movie. The repetitiveness and the Time Stone in particular result in some loss of emotional satisfaction.
Yet considering the difficulty of putting together a story containing a massive number of characters, it is pretty amazing that Avengers: Infinity War was not a total mess. It was actually easy to follow the narrative, and for that one has to applaud them. It also succeeds in that it does make you want to watch the next part (which comes out in 2019). I can’t think how the Avengers are going to defeat Thanos…
I suspect this movie will look and feel different after part 2 comes out. But for now, I would rate this 3/5. It’s not wonderful, but it does what it was supposed to do quite competently.
UPDATE: My conclusion stays the same after a second viewing. They did well in making a story that you can follow, but most of the emotional impact is gone since there’s no way those protagonists who disintegrated are going to remain that way. And the non-continuity of Thor’s needing a weapon again really bothers me.