Let’s get something out of the way.
This is just part one. It’s far, far from over.
Cries of outrage and anguish rose from the crowd tonight as the credits began to roll. My wife and I simply looked at each other and started laughing. Anyone who went into this thinking this movie would be a one-and-done is going to be more dissappointed then when Frodo didn’t toss the Ring into the fires of Mt. Doom at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. The last 17 movies have all been leading us to this point, starting with the end of Avengers 1. “To challenege them is to court death.” says Thanos’s cohort in that mid-credit scene. Readers of the comics immediately knew what that meant: that Marvel was going to adapt The Infinity War for the big screen.
How did we know? Because it’s not “death”, but “Death”, referring to Lady Death, the incarnation of death itself. Thanos had been trying unsuccessfully to woo Lady Death for untold centuries. Gathering the stones and…well, doing what he does, is Thanos’s “grand romantic gesture”.
That’s right, Virginia. The Infinity War is a love story. Or was the comics. The MCU has taken Thanos’s motivations in a different, and much more believable, direction. But more on that in a moment. Let’s talk about the nitty gritty.
From a technical standpoint, the movie follows the Marvel pattern very closely. The mood, themes and core elements of each of the MCU’s individual franchises are all carefully maintained while coalescing into a whole. For example, much of the film’s humor settles around the Guardians of the Galaxy. When Captain America is on screen, the movie takes a more serious and determined tone, and so on. Directors Tony and Joe Russo do a fantastic job of bringing these elements together, and knowing when and where to emphasize the -right one to best effect. Sacrifice is a constant theme, as the heroes strive to decide where the line lies between one life and all life in the galaxy. While Lady Death isn’t part of the film, love is, both romantic and familial. Would you sacrifice your loved ones to save the galaxy? And what happens when that sacrifice looses its meaning? Our heroes have some tough choices to make,
As for the action, well, for all it’s humor and drama, this is still an action movie at it’s heart. Guns and blasters are fired, things explode, punches, kicks and all manner of other things are thrown around, all while looking and sounding terriffic. Coordinating all those characters in fighting sequences is a massive job. Kudos to the team of stunt professionals, digital animators and the like. Fantastic job.
We’ve seen these actors play these rolls quite a lot, so there isn’t much to discuss when it comes to their performances. More of the same isn’t a bad thing in this case. Instead, let’s talk about Josh Brolin.
Thanos is not your typical power-hungry villain. He’s complicated, and many stories over the years have seen Thanos on the side of the heroes. Working simply with expressions and voice, Josh Brolin brings depth and emotion to Thanos in surprising ways. He makes a brutal and driven Thanos not only relateable, but almost likeable. Thanos seeks to bring balance and peace to the universe. He believes his methods and means are not only justified but right; he believes in his cause with such fervor that any sacrifice is worth it, so long as he achieves his goal. Its an impressive and nuanced performance. Brolin won’t be winning any awards for his performance, but much of the movie rests on his shoulders, and he delivers.
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Lots of folks die. By which I mean heroes. It was inevitable. Too many heroes for not enough screen time. While the cast for this movie was enourmous, the cast for the sequel will be much, much smaller. The sequel, much like the comic, will follow the survivors, their battle to wrest the Gauntlet from Thanos and restore some sort of order to the galaxy. Marvel kills off characters all the time, and only a handful have ever actually stayed dead.
You see where I’m going with this, right? Good. Moving on.
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This movie is just the beginning. Cross-over events typically work this way. One part of the story is in an Avengers comic, while the next part is in the new issue of Spiderman. Of course stringing us, the movie going public, along is in Disney’s best interest, isn’t it? We’ve seen all the movies up to this point. We’re not about to jump this train now.