WEEKEND WEB: Marvel-ously magic
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (12A)
SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: ROBERT DOWNEY JR, CHRIS EVANS, MARK RUFFALO, CHRIS HEMSWORTH, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, CHRIS PRATT, ZOE SALDANA, TOM HOLLAND, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, PAUL BETTANY, ELIZABETH OLSEN, DAVE BAUTISTA, CHADWICK BOSEMAN, DON CHEADLE, ANTHONY MACKIE, SEBASTIAN STAN, KAREN GILLAN, DANAI GURIRA, BENEDICT WONG, PETER DINKLAGE, GWYNETH PALTROW, LETITIA WRIGHT, BENICIO DEL TORO, POM KLEMENTIEFF, WINSTON DUKE, TOM HIDDLESTON, IDRIS ELBA, WILLIAM HURT, TERRY NOTARY, COBIE SMULDERS, SAMUEL L JACKSON & THE VOICES OF BRADLEY COOPER, VIN DIESEL, KERRY CONDON, ROSS MARQUAND & JOSH BROLIN
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 29 MINS
DIRECTORS: JOE & ANTHONY RUSSO
The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and the ‘Devourer of Worlds’ Thanos have proven that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe can literally go to infinity and beyond – after smashing major movie records over the weekend with this epic intergalactic superhero sci-fi opera.
It has just Hulk-smashed US and Worldwide Box Office opening weekend records ($258million and $640m respectively), and has just had the biggest all-time Saturday (£9.2m) and third best four-day opening ever in the UK (£29m) – and deservedly so.
This third Avengers outing is undoubtedly the grandest superhero movie ever made – it’s almost The Lord of the Rings equivalent due to its epic scale – and packs an emotional punch too as it instantly becomes one of the genre greats.
The Russo Brothers – after honing their craft with the likes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War – deserve immense praise for simply managing to keep the two-and-a-half hour spectacle together, let alone providing a measured fanboy feast that actually gives almost equal screen-time to all the main players.
And that is no mean feat that shouldn’t be sniffed at. Take a bow Joe and Anthony Russo.
This is undoubtedly Thanos’ movie though (voiced by iconic Goonies star Josh Brolin, soon to be seen in next month’s Deadpool 2), as he proves to be an enigmatic and powerful (computer-generated) villain that even shows glimpses of morality with the ruthless destruction he and his Black Order henchmen are inflicting on the galaxy.
His primary goal is to get his hands on all six Infinity Stones – most of which have been parts of previous Marvel movies – so he can bring ‘balance’ to the universe by killing half the population (including that on Earth) at the click of his fingers.
Thanos’ power is seen instantly in the movie’s opening salvo, as he effortlessly overpowers the likes of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) to acquire the Space Stone after intercepting the ship of Asgardian survivors seen at the end of Ragnarok.
And he never really lets ups from there, as he dominates the piece as the most formidable baddie in comic-book movie history through three main intertwining stories:
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-Man (Tom Holland in Iron-Spidey guise), join up with some of the Guardians of the Galaxy (including Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord) to battle Thanos on Saturn’s moon Titan; Thor heads off with Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and a teenage Groot (Vin Diesel) to locate a potentially Thanos-killing Battle Axe from Peter Dinklage’s (Game of Thrones) master craftsman Eitri; and the rest of the Avengers battle Thanos’ minions on Black Panther’s (Chadwick Boseman) home turf of Wakanda as they seek Vision’s (Paul Bettany) Mind Stone implanted in his forehead.
For fanboy information, contributors to this almighty battle include Captain America (Chris Evans playing as the comic-book ‘Nomad’ version of Cap), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke) and Bruce Banner in Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster armour as he struggles to unleash the Hulk.
Zoe Saldana’s Gamora – as the daughter of Thanos – also has a big part to play, too.
And for extra MCU fan service and continuity purposes, there’s appearances by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, Benicio Del Toro’s The Collector, William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross, SHIELD’s Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) – albeit in an end of credits scene that you must see – and even a cameo from former Cap Am villain Red Skull.
And how the Russos keep this together to provide something anywhere near coherent God only knows. But they do, and with some aplomb.
In fact the only people MIA are Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp, and they’ll reportedly all have a part to play in next year’s mouth-watering fourth instalment.
And probably even more than a Star Wars film, the anticipation to how this plays out could just make the final Avengers instalment the biggest must-see movie of all-time – particularly after the deliciously evocative cliff-hanger finale.
As it stands Infinity War is my favourite superhero movie of the current generation, up there – in a completely different way – with the likes of the original Christopher Reeves’ Superman and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy.
Which puts Thanos and Co shoulder-to-shoulder with some esteemed company indeed – meaning you should assemble at the cinema as soon as possible to watch a slice of blockbuster movie magic.
Rating: 5/5, by Gavin Miller