It’s hard to review things that make their own rules

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Avengers: Infinity War
Now playing

3 out of 5

Major spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.

From a film critic’s point of view there’s never been a movie like Avengers: Infinity War. This is a film critics can’t review without revealing spoilers from minute one. As an event built up by 18 installments over 10 years, it could even be argued Infinity War isn’t even a movie — it’s more like the finale of a 10-year TV season.

In short, Marvel makes its own rules. But two weeks after opening day,  anyone interested in Avengers: Infinity War has already seen it, so I can talk about it properly.

I didn’t love it.

A good time was had by all, no question. But its gimmick —dozens of high-wattage Hollywood stars playing superheroes in the same movie —  far exceeds its story. On repeated viewing, other issues pop up.

LACK OF MOMENTUM: When you have roughly 30 heroes on screen, the decision to split them up and send them off on separate quests makes sense. Combining each thread, however, is a delicate operation. Return of the Jedi has a lot of problems but its three-ring conclusion set the standard three decades ago. Worst-case scenario: you interrupt an exciting storyline to give screen time to undeserving subplots. The most flagrant example is whenever the movie cuts to Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). While great actors, their lack of chemistry is obvious and their doomed romance is less interesting than the Guardians of the Galaxy’s diet (Drax eats… chips? With those abs? How?)

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT/CONSISTENCY: Directors Anthony and Joe Russo are on record saying Avengers: Infinity War is a Thanos movie. That sounds great: unlike most Marvel villains, the Mad Titan is a captivating figure with a somewhat valid cause: universal sustainability (although the real problem mostly isn’t scarcity; it’s distribution. Somebody get Thanos some Naomi Klein, stat). Unfortunately, the Russos don’t follow through. Sure, the villain is the only character with an arc in the film (Thor, the second-most prominent character, shows a range of emotions but not growth), but we keep cutting to the heroes, or a facsimile of them. T’Challa/Black Panther’s (Chadwick Boseman) decision-making is so dumb he probably made the population of Wakanda long for Killmonger. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) fares even worse — the two-time saviour of the universe is like a tantrummy 10-year old. It’s hard to believe even he could be moronic enough to singlehandedly ruins the Avengers’ best shot to beat Thanos, but ruin it he does.

ALL FOR NAUGHT: Considering the ending — the strength of which might trick you into believing Infinity War is a neo-classic — none of the heroics that preceded it matter one bit. They’re just a string of pyrrhic victories keeping the fans happy for as long as possible before Thanos wins. Even the grim ending is a cheat: we already know most of the fatalities will come back from the dead. Who sacrifices extremely profitable franchises for narrative reasons? Besides two of the dusted heroes have sequels scheduled — one of them next summer.

STAND-IN AWARENESS (THE NITPICKING SECTION): When you consider how many stars Avengers: Infinity War has, you realize they can’t all be available at the same time. Stand-ins are artfully used, but when you’ve seen as many movies as I have, you can distinguish the conversations that have been shaped in the editing bay.

Also, let’s acknowledge most of the planets in the Marvel universe look like glorified screensavers.

I don’t want to diminish the magnitude of the endeavour. It’s thrilling. I just wish artistic considerations mattered more than external factors. Other things I wish for: slimming pistachio ice cream, more movies with Philip Seymour Hoffman and a fourth season of Hannibal.