AVENGERS: IN­FIN­ITY WAR

OUT 3 SEPTEMBER DVD, BD, 3D BD, 4K Ul­tra HD, Dig­i­tal HD extras In­tro, Commentary, Fea­turettes, Deleted scenes, Gag reel (all BD)

Total Film - - Contents -

Do the home en­ter­tain­ment extras pro­vide ANY an­swers? What do you think…?

Well, you can’t fault Kevin Feige and his team for am­bi­tion. In­fin­ity War is the big one, the cul­mi­na­tion of a decade-long plan that’s rev­o­lu­tionised the way we think about block­buster cinema. Judged as a stand­alone film, it ar­guably makes zero sense, but as a re­ward to loyal au­di­ences, it takes some beat­ing as a feast of sto­ry­telling. Viewed as a cin­e­matic sea­son fi­nale, the risk-tak­ing is au­da­cious. This is boxset Hol­ly­wood at its best.

Look how far Marvel has come since Avengers As­sem­ble. When that came out in 2012, ev­ery­body ap­plauded the stu­dio for bring­ing to­gether four ma­jor su­per­heroes and as­sorted sup­port­ing play­ers, with­out screw­ing it up. The steady es­ca­la­tion of world-build­ing since then means there are around a dozen or more key play­ers in In­fin­ity War who weren’t even in­tro­duced six years ago. And, some­how, they still haven’t screwed it up.

Here, the dare seems to be to throw to­gether the most ran­dom en­coun­ters to gen­er­ate new gags and set-pieces. Iron Man and Doc­tor Strange bick­er­ing over tac­tics, pit­ting Robert Downey Jr. and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch (aka Sher­lock and Sher­lock) against each other? Why not? Rocket and Groot head­ing off on a mis­sion with Thor to meet a gar­gan­tuan Peter Din­klage? Sure. This is tes­ta­ment to how broad the MCU has be­come, but also a mat­ter of lo­gis­tics. At times, the film re­sem­bles the great WW2 epics like

A Bridge Too Far, which carved equally im­pres­sive en­sem­bles into di­gestible chunks, based as much on the ac­tors’ avail­abil­ity as nar­ra­tive pur­pose.

TI­TAN WITH A PLAN

It also changes the stakes. We know the Avengers can work to­gether. Here, the ques­tion is can they even get to­gether? What’s sur­pris­ing – at least, un­til that end­ing makes sense of it – is that the core unit of Stark, Rogers, Ban­ner, Ro­manoff and Thor doesn’t re­ally take cen­tre-stage. Cap­tain Amer­ica, in par­tic­u­lar, gets rel­a­tively scant screen time, de­spite be­ing the lead in the Russo broth­ers’ pre­vi­ous Marvel out­ings.

In­stead, the fo­cus is on the new kids who have dom­i­nated sub­se­quent phases of the MCU (Strange, Peter Parker, Black Pan­ther, the Guardians of the Galaxy), which makes this a fit­ting sea­son fi­nale to this pe­riod of the se­ries. Given free­dom by Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War (which

was es­sen­tially a quasi-three­quel to the pre­vi­ous Avengers films) this one has the re­mit to ex­plore.

It’s the Guardians who get the best out of the deal. With the gang split­ting into two, there’s a con­sid­er­able chunk of the ac­tion spent in space, as Thanos (Josh Brolin) me­thod­i­cally goes about his plan to com­plete the In­fin­ity Gaunt­let. It’s a smart move. The big­gest weak­ness of Avengers As­sem­ble was the anonymity of its alien at­tack­ers, but here Thanos is a for­mi­da­ble foe with an un­usu­ally de­tailed, psy­cho­log­i­cally plau­si­ble plan – to wipe out half of the uni­verse and give the sur­vivors a fresh start. Even be­hind his souped-up size and pur­ple skin, Josh Brolin cre­ates that rar­ity: a Marvel vil­lain of emo­tional nu­ance and depth, who de­fines the film’s op­er­atic scale and tragic heft.

And it’s this through-line, more than any of the sto­ries in­volv­ing the Avengers, that gives the film its co­her­ence. As the dust set­tles fol­low­ing the cli­mac­tic bat­tles, the story re­groups around the core Avengers, set­ting up next year’s se­quel but also re­in­forc­ing the power of the brand that Feige has cre­ated. It’s the equiv­a­lent of a foot­ball man­ager rest­ing his core play­ers for the open­ing leg of a two-way tie, but it means the big guns will be out for the re­turn fix­ture. Can Marvel meet its own chal­lenge and outdo even this film? It’s time to pick up the gaunt­let.

GOAT OF CON­FI­DENCE

Un­sur­pris­ingly, there’s no Avengers 4 sneak peek in the extras, which are mod­est for a film of this size. The fea­turettes get off to a dis­ap­point­ing start; both Strange Alchemy (about the vast cast) and The Mad Ti­tan (Thanos) play like pre-re­lease pro­mos, all clips and sound­bites and stuff you al­ready know. But the next two - re­spec­tively cov­er­ing bat­tles in Wakanda and on Ti­tan – take things up a gear. We see key mo­ments be­ing re­hearsed/filmed (with Brolin act­ing be­neath a gi­ant card­board Thanos head); learn that the weather just wouldn’t play ball in Wakanda (ac­tu­ally Ge­or­gia, with shipped-in African fo­liage); and see Thor diss Cap (“Evans was a bit off,” joshes Chris Hemsworth af­ter one take).

The four deleted scenes neatly di­vide into two dra­matic mo­ments, two comedic. Best of the bunch is a classic bout of Guardians bantz that’s too long to work in con­text but great as a stand­alone. By con­trast, the oblig­a­tory gag reel is sen­si­bly short (and stolen by a goat). The four-way commentary – An­thony and Joe Russo plus writ­ers Christo­pher Markus and Stephen McFeely – flags Easter eggs, par­al­lels and sym­me­tries while drop­ping the odd sly tease (“Thor could have a lot of guilt about his ac­tions…”). It’s worth lis­ten­ing to the very end – not for any great rev­e­la­tions about the post-cred­its sting but for a nice be­hind-theswears anec­dote. Si­mon Kin­n­ear

‘at times, the film re­sem­bles the great ww2 epics’

No one could de­cide on the theme of the street party, but it was go­ing to be wild.

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