Review: Avengers: Infinity War (and my thoughts on the IMAX presentation)

Avengers: Infinity War is the movie the Marvel universe has been building to ever since the first Avengers teased Thanos six years ago. It’s hard to believe it’s already been six years since the first Avengers movie and ten years since the first Iron Man. Like everyone else on the planet, I was incredibly excited to see the movie and was curious if the Russo brothers and Marvel could pull off such an ambitious movie with such a large cast. How do you properly tell a story that has so many characters in so little time? And how does Thanos rank among Marvel’s big screen villains? Or among other big screen villains? Hit the jump below to find out my spoiler-free thoughts.

Avengers: Infinity War is ambitious. It’s a huge movie with a long running time. At 2 hours and 36 minutes it’s the longest of Marvel’s films but, for me, it didn’t feel long. In fact, it seemed to fly by. When the end credits began rolling I was thinking “Already?” I didn’t want it to end and that, to me, is the sign of a good movie.

Infinity War starts right where Thor: Ragnarok ends: Thor and the Asgardians (and Hulk) are on their ship headed for Earth. Anyone who stayed through the credits after Thor saw that they were intercepted by a much, much bigger ship. But who does the ship belong to? I think we all knew the answer. Thanos. We don’t see Thanos board Thor’s ship. All we see is his destruction. Asgardians lie dead at his feet and he tosses Thor around like a rag doll, which… is no easy feat. This is really Thanos’ movie. He’s essentially the main character, although he is far from the protagonist. And it makes sense that this is how screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely decided to frame the film. They wouldn’t be able to focus on one of the Avengers as the main protagonist without detracting from the other heroes so they decided to make it Thanos’ story. His ultimate quest to find and procure all six of the Infinity Stones, magic gems that will essentially give him the power of a god. Once he has acquired all six stones he’d be able to wipe out half of humanity with just the snap of his fingers. Which would be easier than conquering one planet at a time, the way he’s been doing it for years.

When Earth’s Mightiest Heroes get wind of Thanos’ plan, they know they have to fight him and bring him down but that’s an easier-said-than-done plan. Plus, there’s still the divide between the heroes due to the fallout from Civil War. Because of this the movie puts our heroes into separate groups. Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in one while Captain America, Black Widow, Black Panther and Falcon are another. The Guardians run into Thor and some help him while a couple of the others help another group. Each group gets plenty of screen time and plenty of action. Not to mention plenty of one liners and funny moments.

Truly, Avengers: Infinity War works. And it works really well. I really only have one complaint and it’s a minor one and honestly, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. So it’s becoming less and less of a complaint as time goes on. We all know Avengers 4 is coming out next year. In fact, when Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 were first announced they were titled Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2. So we all know that this movie was the first half of the Infinity War tale. However, when they changed Part 1 to just Avengers: Infinity War, it made me think (wrongly) that this movie would be a self contained story but it’s not. Not really. This movie has plenty of action and a good story, however it feels incomplete. It basically feels like 2 1/2 hours of set up for Part 2. It’s somewhat annoying when movies do this (the only real example I can think of at the moment is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. That movie pissed me off. It felt like a waste of 2 1/2 hours. It was nothing but set-up for the third Pirates movie. I saw it in the theater and haven’t seen it since). However, I think it would have been a disservice to Thanos if the Avengers had defeated him in this movie. It would have been a good movie but I imagine it wouldn’t have been amazing. It would have felt rushed. So, in a way, this was the best option. And the stakes are definitely raised (very high) by the end of the film. So remember how I said it was a complaint? I don’t think it is anymore. I think it was necessary.

Now, before I give my rating for the film I have to vent a minute. This has nothing to do with the film itself but with the IMAX presentation. Ever since Christopher Nolan chose to shoot sections of The Dark Knight with IMAX cameras, IMAX has had somewhat of a boom in business it seems. More and more theaters have IMAX screens but they aren’t true IMAX. For those of you who weren’t aware of the IMAX vs LieMAX debate here’s a great link on the subject. There have been several other films over the years to shoot sequences in IMAX and they’ve all been stunning when viewed at a true IMAX theater. From The Dark Knight Rises to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol to last year’s Dunkirk. When those IMAX sequences occur and the film’s aspect ratio expands to fill the entire gigantic screen, it steals your breath. It’s amazing and I’ve always said I would gladly pay extra for a movie with IMAX footage vs a movie in 3D. But up until recently, no movie has shot an entire film in IMAX. Why not? Because IMAX cameras are big, bulky and loud. Shooting a scene with dialogue is virtually impossible. It’s been done but I believe dialogue was either recorded during separate takes or replaced altogether later (known as ADR). Enter Avengers: Infinity War. The first Hollywood film to be shot entirely on IMAX cameras.

I was ecstatic and I bought tickets to the true IMAX as soon as they went on sale. I drove an hour away to the only true IMAX screen in my area (When I was living in CA, there was one only 15 minutes from where I lived. I miss it.). The lights dimmed, the movie started… and I realized the movie wasn’t filling the entire IMAX screen. What…? I thought this movie was shot in IMAX? What gives? Well, it turns out that digital IMAX is in a different aspect ratio than 70mm film IMAX. 1.90:1 to be exact. Whereas 70mm IMAX is 1.43:1. I was HUGELY disappointed. The movie didn’t have that immersive experience I was expecting and, to be honest, it didn’t look as crisp and colorful as the sequences shot in 70mm have always looked. It hurt my heart that IMAX has lowered their standards in such a way. Now when a film says “Shot with IMAX Cameras” I will be forced to wonder “Is it true IMAX? Or is it the Avengers 1.90:1 IMAX?” and that sucks. I truly felt like I could have saved the $50 I spent on IMAX tickets and just watched it at the regular theater ten minutes from my house. Below are a couple of images explaining the difference between the two aspect ratios but I tell ya… it doesn’t do it justice. If you haven’t seen a movie with IMAX sequences displayed in 70mm on a 97 foot screen… you are definitely missing out. But don’t waste your money on seeing Avengers in IMAX.

IMAX comparison

On the left is the average theater screen. The middle is the LieMAX screen (most common IMAX) and the right is a true IMAX.


Anyway. The movie is great nonetheless. I can’t wait to see it again. I give it an A.


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