Enjoyable modern epic but no Homer.
Avengers: Infinity War
Directors: Anthony Russo (Captain America), Joe Russo (Captain America)
Screenplay: Christopher Markus, et al.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Runtime: 2 hr 29 min
by John DeSando
Because my index for great epic adventure is dictated by Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Marvel heroic tales like Avengers: Infinity War supply my modern need to experience excellence but fall short of Homer’s weighty themes and complex characters. However, with super-human visuals, contemporary heroic films do a credible job of taking the place of my imagination.
Not that that substitution is preferable to Homer’s working my mind to create Cyclops and Sirens and assorted baddies as well as the original modern smart hero, Odysseus.
The Avengers and their buddies must come together to fight the mighty Thanos (Josh Brolin), whose goal as he decimates half the universe’s population is to possess all six infinity stones. Because Vision (Paul Bettany) has the last one, you have an idea what the ending choreography will look like.
Yes, there will be the usual explosions and guns, which still strike me as incredulously outdated even though super-hero films abound with the munitions. I see in Infinity fewer explosions and fistfights than I have previously witnessed, a source of my abiding criticism of this genre. The Russo brothers directors have judiciously larded the film with these tropes while leaving plenty of room for wisecracks, a joy for me.
Nobody does them better than Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), with his better-than-thou intelligence and impeccably caustic wit: “I swore off dairy, then Ben and Jerry’s named a flavor after me.”Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) has some good ones as well: “Let's talk about this plan of yours. I think it's good, except it sucks. So let me do the plan, and that way, it might be really good.” I like the witty repartee much more than the explosions.
With as many major warriors as could be possible on one screen, Infinity rarely develops character as we should expect in any drama, Greek or otherwise. Yet, the writers and directors can then guarantee the action to be constant and no one fall asleep, except those hard-core comic-book fans that wait for the scene after the end credits.
The final conflict guarantees a financially-rich opening for part two, which will have to move some to match the record-breaking first weekend take for Infinity. Homer would be happy enough with the new epics but much happier that his adventurers are guaranteed infinity or at least immortality.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com