Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Arpy

Avengers Infinity War Part 1 (2018) Review *SPOILERS*

Recommended Posts

Avengers Infinity War - Part 1 wasn't as terrible as I was expecting. I felt invested in the story and the individual setpieces and liked most of the characters (especially Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy) I enjoyed this film more than the first Avengers and that's an achievement of a kind.

I think the disappointing, confusing, and terrible aspects of this film, for me, can be broken down into a few segments:

 

 *SPOILERS*

 

 

*Thanos = Bland CGI villain and Video Game Lackeys*

 

One of the most distracting things right off the the bat about the film was the Thanos CGI model and character design, bearing no distinction from a video game villain you might find in something like World of Warcraft - he looks silly. It wasn't Josh Brolin's performance, it was just the character he was portraying I felt nothing for and this was in part because of his CGI appearance. I can't believe after all these years that the Avengers' greatest foe and all the films had been building to THIS, a Homer Simpson/Shrek hybrid of a villain whose motivations are extraordinarily dumb and simplistic. His entire character boils down to searching for powerful mcguffins that will wipe out half of the universe's population. I think when you reach this point in the tenured heights of the Superhero genre, where all the stakes are raised incredibly high - they begin to hit the ceiling of credibility and believability. Where do you go after Thanos, can you go back  to fighting crime with Superpowers?

Thanos is accompanied by usesless lackeys whom he calls the 'Children of Thanos' - they're all CGI pieces of shit who look like something from a MMORPG . They all chide the Avengers for being useless but they all die and are inconsequential to the plot, essentially no better than the faceless monsters they release at Wakanda. The entire time they were onscreen I was thinking how much better they might've worked in the context of a fantasy type anime where their stylistic hobgoblin traits and melodramatic cadence would be better suited.

 

Later in the film, Thanos's search for the stones brings us to another CGI fantasy landscape to import the Thanos model into where we encounter none other than the Red Skull, yeah, that *memorable* villain Hugo Weaving portrayed seven years ago but he's now a flying ghoul protecting the soul stone for some reason. Why is he here, why this convoluted and contrived sequence to have Thanos sacrifice Gamora - a relationship that was only setup earlier in the film? I felt sad not because of Thanos's actions but because Gamora's death was meaningless and wasted.

 

 

*Overabundance of Poor CGI and Black Panther*

 

I couldn't take any of Thanos's scenes seriously, and to make things worse the CGI environments these characters were set against were insanely bad, I don't think they filmed any scenes on a physical set or location leaving me in disbelief that one of the MCU's tentpole films looks no better than what we were getting in 2005, with something like Revenge of the Sith (there seem to be many other parallels to the Star Wars prequels here which is discouraging). 

 

We get to return to Wakanda, the expansive African plains rendered in authentic African CGI for another inconsequential battle with more faceless monsters - didn't we just have a CGI battle at Wakanda at the end of Black Panther? The Wakandan warriors gather their spears and plasma shields (reminiscent of The Phantom Menace's Gungans) ready to fight, but then those pointy spears shoot lasers that fire at the invading faceless monster/creatures betraying the cultural significance and necessity for primitive weapons in the first place, which was precisely a major problem I had with Black Panther. A cultural, African populace living in a sophisticated and technologically advanced society, reverting to tribalistic displays and whose idea of a democracy to determine their leader is reduced to a savage fight to the death on a waterfall. Where's the cultural appropriation brigade? Isn't this just absurd? Isn't this a tad bit racist?

 

There's just something off about seeing T'Challa fly over Africa in a futuristic aircraft as a triumphant fanfare blasts while the people below live in abject poverty - and on top of that Wakanda's 'Outreach' aid is centred somewhere in America and not first and foremost directed to the African people suffering just outside the anachronistic Wakandan Utopia!

 

Without spoiling anything (if there's anything to spoil) the film ends with Shrek *Thanos* returning to his swamp to watch the sunset in what is supposed to be a clenching cliffhanger. Oh no, what ever will the Avengers do to stop this purple monster and reverse his evil plan? In the end there's no weight to the loss of life, no consequences, no emotional significance. Just another tired story beat for them to solve in the next film.

 

 

Now, onto the positives:

 

*Everything that isn't Thanos*

I loved Thor and his plot with the Guardians in trying to forge a new hammer, it was just fun and a nice diversion from the grim main story; the writing for Thor is brilliant. 

I particularly liked the team-up of Tony Stark and Doctor Strange who played nicely off each other and the Guardians of the Galaxy - some of my favorite MCU characters from recent years, but perhaps Spider-Man could have been left out, just another character reduced to a cheap emotional gimmick.

Seeing all of the individual breakdowns of the teams was a good move to have some clarity in a film stuffed with fluff, because there's a lot going on and characters left right and centre.

 

Overall I enjoyed the film save for the CGI and video game villains and the general laziness of the MCU, I think if part two can rectify some of these things it might serve as a nice send-off for these characters and we can move on to other things and not endless sequels, origin stories and team-up films.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think internet film criticism has devolved too much into discussion centered on little more than production value: namely, the quality, or lack thereof, of the special effects, and whether they’re practical or CG, over the actual narrative.

 

You can be engaged in a film even when it’s special effects aren’t that convincing. What matters is that the story underneath them is captivating and timeless.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree @Chen G. but it's criticism of how they use that production value to service the story; here in Infinity War there isn't much story to go on, just visual spectacle. Though, I would also say that one would go into Superhero films expecting to turn off their thinking faculties and just enjoy the action, which is perfectly acceptable. I'm just of the opinion some of these popcorn blockbusters can provide better stories than others, whilst also providing the quota for the various departments of filmmaking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's what I dislike about a lot of reviews for superhero and action movies. People complain all the time about how there's "too much CGI." If the CGI is great, what does it matter? Why can't it be a classic if the villain is computer-generated instead of a burly guy in a big rubber suit? What's so objectionable about the simple use of CGI. I especially hear this about the SW prequels. "There's too much CGI," "They didn't use any actual sets," the list goes on. But even the haters agree that the prequel CGI is amazing and doesn't look that weird at all. So what's the problem with CGI?

 

Also, Spiderman was great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The issue with the CGI in the prequels is the real life actors fail to convince that they're really interacting with what's portrayed as "there", but we know it isn't.

 

More recent films seem to have overcome this bug and now it's far more seamless, and therefore, convincing. I really believe Peter Quill is interacting with a CGI tree and raccoon, or Gamora is having a tender moment with Thanos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Filmmaking and film theory are a curious field. On the one hand, its an incredibly scientific, technical profession of photography, lighting, special effects, etcetra. But, on the other hand, it is an art form and those who engage in it are artistically-inclined and, therefore, prone to nostalgia and romanticising the past.

 

CG falls into that category: while it has allowed for major achievements in film, it is often derided and gives rise to lamentation of the death of the "good-ol" stop-motion, matte-paintings, etc. To my mind, if it looks good, it looks good; and if it looks bad, it looks bad. How the look is acquired is immaterial. Practical effects have the same potential to appear unconvincing or to become dated, if they're not done right.

 

The relevancy of practical effects in the foreseeable future, I think, is to keep the toll on the CG artists low enough so that they can focus on giving each CG element the needed polish. When there's too much CG-work required, some of it will inevitably not look as cleaned-up as it could.

 

I will say, however, with regards to the specific example you provided, that the CG on the Star Wars prequels often just doesn't look good: either by itself or when it sits in the same frame with a practical element. But, even that would be perfectly excusable, had the story been gripping. People can look past bad or dated effects, if they find the story effective.

 

And that's one last point: we want to believe that we can separate our impression of the CG rendering from our impression of the design and the context of the story, but often we really can't. Thanos doesn't look uncovincing because of the CG rendering: its just a very heightened "comic-book" character design - a Marvel staple. Likewise, if we aren't taken with the narrative, we will be more likely to find flaws even where they don't necessarily exist - the "halo effect."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, John said:

 

That's funny, because everyone I know, including those who like the prequels, acknowledge the fact that the trilogy (for the most part) has very shoddy and heavily-dated CGI.

Interesting; I've never really heard anyone complain about the CGI for Jar-Jar, for instance. Annoyingness aside, he does look like he's actually there. To me and others I've heard anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of it does look great. Some of it really doesn't.

 

What matters is that the underlying story - while very gripping on paper - is undermined by the dramatically-inert way in which its writer-director constructs it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Mitth'raw'nuorodo said:

Here's what I dislike about a lot of reviews for superhero and action movies. People complain all the time about how there's "too much CGI." If the CGI is great, what does it matter? Why can't it be a classic if the villain is computer-generated instead of a burly guy in a big rubber suit? What's so objectionable about the simple use of CGI. I especially hear this about the SW prequels. "There's too much CGI," "They didn't use any actual sets," the list goes on. But even the haters agree that the prequel CGI is amazing and doesn't look that weird at all. So what's the problem with CGI?

 

Also, Spiderman was great.

I think Revenge of the Sith holds up more than the other two in terms of CGI.

I didn't think for one second the CGI in Infinity War was good or convincing, it just felt lazy on Marvel's part to think they could get away with so much of it that I never believed any of the characters were actually there, rather standing in a big green room.

 

4 hours ago, Chen G. said:

Thanos doesn't look uncovincing because of the CG rendering: its just a very heightened "comic-book" character design - a Marvel staple. Likewise, if we aren't taken with the narrative, we will be more likely to find flaws even where they don't necessarily exist - the "halo effect."

No, I would say that it was almost entirely down to the fact he was a mo-cap CGI creation; I felt disappointed by this the same way Azog was rendered in The Hobbit Trilogy - especially after discovering the Torturer of Dol Guldur was the original design for the character.

 

4 hours ago, Margo Channing said:

The issue with the CGI in the prequels is the real life actors fail to convince that they're really interacting with what's portrayed as "there", but we know it isn't.

 

More recent films seem to have overcome this bug and now it's far more seamless, and therefore, convincing. I really believe Peter Quill is interacting with a CGI tree and raccoon, or Gamora is having a tender moment with Thanos.

Chen's point of the CGI serving the story is what is key, I don't think the issue with the prequels was down to the CGI, but a culmination of the script, acting and the visual effects. Revenge of the Sith is an interesting case study to delve into because how much of that film was saved by the artists and Lucas's friends involvement.

 

Maybe I am getting caught up on the design of Thanos, I think it's ridiculous that the villain is essentially a cartoonish purple monster, somewhere between Homer Simpson, Bruce Willis and Shrek. I just couldn't take him seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're equating CGI with realism. In that sense, Thanos' CGI wasn't good. But like Hulk, he wasn't supposed to be realistic. There is no frame of reference for realistic here anyway. 

 

He looks like a video game villain, and that's kind of the point really. This is after all a comic book movie where the villain is a purple baddie with a nutsack chin. Kind of explains itself, actually. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Hurmm said:

This is after all a comic book movie where the villain is a purple baddie with a nutsack chin. Kind of explains itself, actually. 

 

which, of course, isn't to say that one cannot approach the same subject with a less heightened approach to character design.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/7/2018 at 7:53 PM, Margo Channing said:

And yet I believed he was there while it was at its most dramatic. I wasn't sitting there eagle eyeing for CGI defects.

I needn't strain my attention to see the CGI was sub-par and distracting, on top of the goofy character design. I'm not a nitpicker when it comes to these Marvel films, I don't spend hours pouring over the many trivialities of its production the way I would with some other films, but there's only so much I will let slip before I say 'c'mon, this is just bullshit.'

 

On 5/7/2018 at 3:36 PM, Hurmm said:

You're equating CGI with realism. In that sense, Thanos' CGI wasn't good. But like Hulk, he wasn't supposed to be realistic. There is no frame of reference for realistic here anyway. 

 

He looks like a video game villain, and that's kind of the point really. This is after all a comic book movie where the villain is a purple baddie with a nutsack chin. Kind of explains itself, actually. 

So much up until this film has tried to ground itself in realism, it's a basis these films have been made on and why they command so much attention and success. There are certain comic-book films which display more levity than others regarding their adherence to realism, and others make a point of that by having a lighter tone. I guess at this juncture in the story (of Infinity War) some of the grounds on which we make an effort to try to suspend our disbelief should be considered - Yes, there's aliens, space travel, purple monsters etc. but there has been an effort made by the prior films to at least pull it all back down to earth in terms of how much realism vs. escapism there is.

 

I believe it's contradictory to have the severity of his character and look like a video game villain. He's interchangeable with the 'I-Roc' character from Ready Player One.

 

On 5/7/2018 at 8:10 PM, Chen G. said:

That's because story supercedes production value.

Not necessarily, sometimes that can be reversed, where story can be derived from production value.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Margo Channing said:

Dude, you're overthinking it.

I do get worked up over these damn comic book films, especially this one which has received some ass-suckingly almighty praise for a competent superhero film.

 

It's disheartening to see the extraordinary praise this film has garnered when The Last Jedi, a flawed film, but a good one nonetheless, was thrown to the dogs for much less. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Arpy said:

It's disheartening to see the extraordinary praise this film has garnered when The Last Jedi, a flawed film, but a good one nonetheless, was thrown to the dogs for much less. 

 

Its really not that lauded.

 

Its at 84% of Rotten Tomatoes. The Last Jedi is at 91%.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You Marvel folks have no idea how lucky you are to get a classy, high quality movie like Avengers: Infinity War.

 

Other franchises I've liked have descended into absolute garbage with sequels that have almost no redeeming qualities. Yet Marvel continues to deliver one winner after another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

 

Its really not that lauded.

 

Its at 84% of Rotten Tomatoes. The Last Jedi is at 91%.

It is in public circles and online. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Margo Channing said:

Is TLJ really that hated or is it just a few loud whackjobs online?

 

It's pretty much a vocal minority that, with the help of social media and the internet, often appear to be the majority. This type of backlash against an installment of a major movie franchise isn't exclusive to Star Wars, either.

 

The problem I've noticed with most TLJ critics is that they think only their concept of what should've happened matters. They didn't get their (often ridiculous) wishes and fan theories fulfilled, and now they're upset about it. It's human nature, more so now then in the past, I think, and it's unfortunate.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No film is perfect, but the internet likes to put a magnifying glass on the most insignificant of flaws and amplify them beyond necessity. And if it's from a YouTube channel, it's mainly done to milk the outrage for all it's worth in order to stay relevant and keep cashing in the ad revenue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Chen G. said:

I'm not talking about insignificant flaws. I don't even bring those into count when I review a film. I'm talking about shortcomings in the overall storytelling.

 

Exactly! Both TLJ and Infinity War rebuffed my theories and expectations. The difference is, Infinity War had a coherent story and it was told pretty well IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...