Anti-Monitor is where DoomRocket gets serious about the one thing it loves most — film. This week, it tries to talk about ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ without spoiling the whole damn thing. 

Image: Marvel Studios

By Jarrod Jones. You’d think a movie like Avengers: Infinity War would be pretty tricky to review without spoilers. I mean, its scope is the largest out of any other Marvel Studios movie, it involves a good percentage of all the primary players throughout its ten year run, and many of its disparate plot points have coalesced here — the big finale.

But really, Avengers: Infinity War, despite all the havoc contained within, is a simple film to navigate. As a matter of fact, strip all the meat from its bones and you’ll find this smorgasbord a bit wanting. Don’t get me wrong. Avengers: Infinity War is a big-ass movie, a milestone for a studio that keeps moving its own bar higher and higher as the years go on. But as far as an Avengers movie goes, the first one was just as noteworthy, if not more so; the second, Age of Ultron, is largely remembered as a punchline; and the peripheral tentpoles — Iron ManGuardians of the Galaxy, and especially Captain America — have all made superior movies along the way. All that Infinity War has left to do is to find a way to… well… end this ten year filmmaking experiment.

It’s in that regard that Infinity War feels like an achievement. But does it cash the check? I suppose that will depend on how you feel about the movie in the days leading up to the May 3, 2019 release of the Still Untitled Avengers Sequel. Perhaps, after the film’s wonderfully insane ending, Ant-Man and the Wasp will come along and teach you how to appreciate this mega-franchise. Who can say.

Image: Marvel Studios

Break it down to its trailer-friendly details and you already know the drill. Thanos (Josh Brolin), the biggest bad out of all the biggest bads in the MCU — even after you consider that giant Mufasa-looking thing in Doctor Strange — is on the hunt for all the remaining Infinity Stones so that he may adorn them on his Gauntlet and re-arrange a few pesky things in the universe: namely, half of the living population. Based on how much you’re invested in what the Infinity Stones are and where they’ve been stashed away over the course of nineteen films, you may cry foul over how Thanos goes about attaining these precious jewels. Even still, you may end up not giving a shit.

Because Infinity War doesn’t spend a whole lot of time mucking around with the minutiae of the living Marvel Studios organism. Sure, all that inside-baseball stuff is in there. This is a film that features Gwenyth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, after all — and they haven’t shared a marquee since Iron Man 3. (Big deal? Absolutely not.) In fact, the film only pays as much lip service to the MCU’s decade of storytelling as it feels like, so long as it benefits the story at hand. Do you know who Doctor Strange is? Great, he’s in here. A lot. You love Spider-Man? Cool. You think Thanos at the end of the first Avengers film was Hellboy for some damn reason? You’re still good. Because everything matters, and nothing does. Perfectly balanced. Just like Thanos likes it.

What Infinity War does excel at, and I’m still not sure this is a good thing, is present an ending for all of Marvel’s disparate franchises without having the backbone to put a period on things. (Yes, a fourth Avengers movie is on its way, that’s not news.) At face value, the beats featured in Infinity War seem like they should be end-all, be-all, but when you know another sequel is right around the corner in a year — and you know a “Phase Four” of these movies is coming with it — well. That may have more to say about the “shared universe” paradigm that Marvel has all but weaponized at this point than anything else. Avengers: Infinity War is a victim of its studios’ successes. The film’s gravitas is hamstrung by its need to self-perpetuate.

Image: Marvel Studios

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, Avengers: Infinity War operates very much like a superhero-populated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1. It takes its own time between the large spectacles to consider the abyss; it engages in a bit of character death, inevitable or otherwise (and sometimes gratuitously so); and it leaves an ellipsis that’s designed to be deconstructed and argued over by fans for an entire year until we all move on to the next thing and this doesn’t matter anymore. And since we’re talking about it, visually and structurally, Infinity War may be most aligned with Peter Jackson’s Return of the King. Do with that information what you will.

Fan favorite characters — like Chris Evans’ Captain America (who elicited applause upon his filmic entrance at my screening), Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor — all get their moment in the sun, but it is fleeting. Other characters get the shorter end of the stick. There’s quite a lot of stuff to cover in this film, primarily concerning its main heavy, Thanos, which is funny when you realize there’s been nineteen of these movies and Thanos has only become a big deal right now. In effect, Thanos all but takes over the film and makes it his own. Which could be worse; Brolin ends up making Thanos a better character than he has any right to be. Hell. He makes Infinity War a better movie than it has any right to be.

And that’s the trick. Along the way, somehow, these Marvel movies have grown smarter, for the most part. (I’m looking at youThor: Ragnarok.) Captain America: The Winter Soldier dealt with the post-Snowden paranoia that comes with being plugged into a system. Iron Man 3 bothered to broach the subject about heroes suffering an emotional fallout after a traumatic experience. And Black Panther — a milestone film in far more ways than one — touched on colonialism and how it dramatically alters culture and the course of human history. As for Infinity War? It has a lot of things to say about sacrifice. And death. But it’s still a dang Marvel movie.

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.

Produced by Kevin Feige.

Screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson ,Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, and Chris Pratt.

Rated PG-13 because of some pretty lucid depictions of death and destruction.

6.5 out of 10