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1.5.18

Avengers: Infinite Confusion (review)

Imagine getting on a roller-coaster that only has one speed - breakneck - and the entire ride consists of one massive dive off an unimaginably high peak.  That pretty much sums up my experience with "Avengers: Infinity War".

Now admittedly, I'm not a fan boy.  I really liked the first Iron Man installment and I've enjoyed all the manifestations of Hulk and Spider Man since I was a kid (Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno and Nicholas Hammondrespectively). 

I never read comic books, preferring real books like "Treasure Island" and "Robinson Crusoe" instead.  So, I was a bit lost when all these characters started showing up.  I knew the Guardians guys from the first movie, but I missed Dr. Strange's introduction, and had no idea who the rest of them were, including the bad guy who wasn't really bad, or something like that.

My first criticism is, what the hell happened to glorious techi-color?  Once upon a time, it was a big freaking deal to have movies and TeeVee in "living color," now everything is a strange steel gray with vague hues of hinted color washed over everything like those old hand-colored photos, and Turner's horrific colorized movies.  Can we return to those amazing days of yesteryear and have something approximating color again?  That would be really fun, at this point.  Maybe at some point in the distant future Turner will colorize films like this.

My next criticism involves the decision to throw EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER in the Marvel stables into one film.  C'mon guys, why not make two or three films covering different aspects of the same event, then bring them together at the end of the final installment, when we can at least kinda sort out who the hell is who in this mess? 

I pretty much kept up with the "story" up to the mid-point, but then gave up all hope of figuring out what the hell was supposed to be going on.  I gathered the bad guy was really good, albeit a bit warped; 75 superheroes couldn't coordinate their individual talents into a unified attack; and leveling entire cities had no repercussions, despite Donald Trump launching a few cruise missiles on three abandoned buildings in Syria causing months of hand-wringing - still to this day.

A better name for this film would have been, "Avengers: Life, the Universe and Everything."  Too bad Douglas Adams stole the title first.  I imagine Marvel execs sitting around the office pushing all their action figure heroes into a huge pile, and then tossing in the wet-bar sink for good measure.

My final criticism concerns this lazy directoral (spell check tags this as "direct oral" which is really funny) style popular now where, instead of taking the time to choreograph fight scenes and shooting a master shot, they just wave the camera around in a bunch of extreme close-ups, then edit them together in fraction-of-a-second cuts and call it a day.

On the plus side, the blend of CGI and "reality" is extremely good.  I had a hard time selecting out the pieces despite my 40+ years in the business.  If I turned off my higher reasoning and aural processing functions, and just looked at the pictures, it was a stunning experience, with a few really heart-pounding shots.  It could be that the entire film is CGI, and I have no reason to doubt it.

The list of credits alone was a gob-smacking moment of trying to imagine getting literally thousands of people in scattered parts of the world to work together on a single project.  I doff my hat to Marvel for this real-world feat.  Quite astounding.

Marvel has also pulled off one of the most miraculous cinematic stunts of all time - getting the majority of the audience to sit through the entire 18 minutes of credits for the now-famous "after-credits scene," which in all honesty, was even more baffling than the movie itself.

I watched the film with an Indonesian audience, and they got all the jokes.  The crowd laughed at the appropriate moments, so the humor was available and no one needed the subtitles to get it.  The humor was also organic and flowed from the characters and situations without being forced like James Bond one-liners.

The interactions of the characters was truly fun, and in the sections where there were less than 27 characters on screen, the dialogue was witty and each character had a unique voice, which given the overwhelming population, was a feat worthy of praise for the writers.

My biggest problem with this "story" is the same one I have with Superman - if the bad guy and/or the sum total of all the good guys are omnipotent, where exactly is the dramatic tension?  It's the same problem the Bumbledicks have with everything - if everyone is extraordinary, then by what standard do we judge them?  Put another way, if vaccine studies have no control groups, then we have no way of determining if the results are valid?

My wife and I choked down two large boxes of unbuttered popcorn, so obviously the action sequences were effective and fun.  Marvel came through for the cinema owners and made a product that sold products. 

Speaking of cinema owners, we saw the film at a CGV Cinema and were subjected to 30 freaking minutes of advertisements - not trailers, mind you, advertisements - and almost every one of them were for smartphones and apps, all of which I will now be personally boycotting for making a 3-hour movie even longer, especially since I was forced to pay for the privilege of having to watch those damn commercials. 

It reinforces my idea that I'm happier watching movies on the home theater, where I can skip the crap I don't want to waste my time on.  I can also pause playback while I run for more popcorn so I don't miss a key scene that might make sense of the entire second half of the film.

In the final analysis, I liked the movie.  It was fun, exciting, had some great character moments, and the effects were eye-popping.  Just don't go into it expecting to have any clue what is happening nor what the end means.  Both my wife and I left the auditorium scratching our heads.  She looked to me - the expert - to explain the meaning of the ending, and I was at a loss to do so.

When it comes to summer stock eye-candy, though, there is no comparison to anything else I've seen of late.  I'll give it a 4 out of 5 on the Mindless Entertainment scale, and a 2 of 5 on the Comprehensible scale, with a 5 of 5 on the Make It Go Boom scale

In 50 years, I doubt seriously we'll be celebrating this film as a turning point in cinematic history, like "2001: A Space Odyssey," which turned 50 in April 2018.  But it will probably stand up to another viewing when it comes out on home video, in a last-ditch effort to understand the "story", before I shelve it for all eternity.

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