So, like everyone else, I saw Avengers: Infinity War this weekend. In a stunning turn of events, I didn’t write the movie review. Adam Mehal did, and it’s great. I encourage you all to check it out. While I agree with many of Adam’s points, I think that there is more to be said about this movie—and what better way to say it than to inundate my copy editors with more columns? There is no better way. None.
Also, this will be a spoiler-free Avengers column, in case that matters to anyone.
I have two main criticisms of this movie.
- This movie is both too long and not long enough. Avengers: Infinity War slouches in at 160 minutes. This is way too long for almost all movies. It’s simply way too much time for a movie to spend telling a story. Avengers just never stops. There are probably four or five places this movie could end, yet it just keeps going. There are exceptions to this length rule for movies, but this is a case where the exceptions prove the rule. The Lord of the Rings movies, Spartacus, Schindler’s List. These are all movies that necessitate run-times of well over two hours. But these exceptions prove that most movies shouldn’t be over two hours long. These are great movies. More than great. They are classics. Most movies are not these movies, and therefore should strive to stay under two hours. Most movies don’t have the pacing, the plot, or the content for that length of time. But Avengers: Infinity War is also not long enough to be the movie it wants to be. This movie consistently struggles to fit all of the information and screen time it wants to give each character into its already bloated run-time. It’s not a bad thing for movies to have lots of plotlines—it can often be an interesting narrative device. Yet it is a bad thing for a movie to have so many plotlines just because it wants to convey so much information. Watching Avengers: Infinity War, I constantly had to remind myself what was going on with each hero, who they were with, and why they were there. The movie then ties all of these narratives together at the very end, and it just isn’t earned. There’s too much for this movie to do, and it’s already only one half of a whole story.
- This isn’t really a movie either. Obviously movies can build on films that have come before them—that’s how sequels work. And sequels can be great movies too! But movies have to be evaluated on their own too—if I can’t walk into a movie in a series and understand at least basic plot or characters because I don’t have the requisite knowledge, that is a failing on the movie’s part. Let’s look at an objectively great sequel: The Dark Knight. You can watch The Dark Knight with little to no knowledge and still really enjoy the movie. Having seen Batman Begins, having seen the previous iterations of Batman in film, having read the comic book all provides greater context for The Dark Knight, but the movie is intelligible without this. Avengers: Infinity War, on the other hand, doesn’t do this. If you walk into this movie with little to no knowledge of the previous 18 movies, Avengers isn’t going to make any damn sense. This movie doesn’t stand on its own in any way at all. And I know what a lot of people will say to this. “Maybe that’s just the way movies are going now.” No. No it is not. Every other franchise that has tried to do this has failed. And it shouldn’t be the way movies go now either. Marvel is a shining example of when this works, and it’s still full of flaws. These movies are really fun and enjoyable, but this does not mean that every other movie should be striving to kickstart a franchise 20 movies long.
Anyway, have a great summer everyone. Catch me writing movie reviews whenever I’m in town.
Featured Image by Marvel Studios