Thursday 10 May 2018

To Infinity War and Beyond...

Where to begin? The best cinema screening since Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

A group of undergraduates created a mini comic con atmosphere filled with fellow fans of Star Wars, DC Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). We laughed, cheered and cried as the Russo brothers took us on a galaxy-spanning tour and broke our collective hearts in the process.

With its paranoia and character-driven conflict, the Russo brothers' Captain America: The Winter Soldier quickly claimed the top spot as my favourite MCU instalment. This was followed by Captain America: Civil War, which was a dry run for the first part of their emotionally shattering Avengers opus.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the MCU, the Russo brothers take the Avengers to the nth degree and beyond in Avengers: Infinity War.

Infinity War begins in deep space with a distress call echoing the Kobayashi Maru training exercise depicted in the opening scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and immediately ups the ante by eclipsing both Joss Whedon's The Avengers, known as Avengers Assemble in the UK, and Avengers: Age of Ultron with a richly mythological movie that conjures fond memories of reading Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars in the mid-eighties and collecting Mattel's tie-in action figures. The seminal 12-issue limited series chronicled Marvel's superheroes and villains as they battled each other for the amusement of the Beyonder.

Infinity War takes its inspiration from the acclaimed comic series Infinity Gauntlet. However, this Thanos, played with surprising pathos by Josh Brolin, believes he's on a noble quest to eradicate half of all life, due to dwindling resources, with the snap of his fingers...

Such is Brolin's charisma, you may find yourself unwittingly rooting for the big bad as he crushes beloved heroes with seemingly no way of returning. This is the fantastical universe of Marvel and as such me thinks there'll be timey-wimey shenanigans in the second part, which was filmed back-to-back, due in cinemas next year. It paves the way for the multiverse - a strength of archrival DC Comics - as a means to introduce Captain Marvel, and the X-Men and Fantastic Four once Disney's acquired Twentieth Century Fox's television and film assets. However, none of this detracts from a palpable sense of loss and the haunting cliffhanger.

Longtime fans will reap the infinite (I went there. Sorry not sorry.) rewards of their dedication to the increasingly episodic series built over a decade, whereas more casual cinemagoers may miss many Easter Eggs. But, there's enough blockbuster bombast, merging the Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings franchises, to entertain and let's not overlook the interplay between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland).

Alan Silvestri's soundtrack score is one of his best since the first Avengers movie and expands on familiar themes replete with a self-referential nod to Predator during the scenes set in Wakanda.

Over the past ten years, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has deftly stewarded a disruptive shared cinematic universe beginning with Iron Man and culminating in the Russo brothers' epic Infinity War. I rarely bestow arbitrary ratings. However, the 10th anniversary instalment garners 10/10. ‘Nuff Said!

What did you think of Avengers: Infinity War? Let me know in the comments below.

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