I just finished watching a review by one of the movie critics I most enjoy on why he felt mixed about Infinity War. I was baffled at first because he was one of the people I went to because they were in general, a happy movie reviewer. On Youtube, there is a lot of mileage for the disgruntled angry reviewer who is comedic and rips into our favorite movies and video games. It is fun but in the current world I do enjoy watching reviews that help soothe me by being positive. I think that the balance is important. I don’t want to feel angry and sad all the time. However, one of the most baffling things about this particular review as how mixed the person was about Infinity War. Infinity War is so far, my favorite film of the year. It was epic and felt really tight and it kept me interested. However, the points the reviewer made are very important and do stick. Twice in the review he mentioned the sins of not learning the lessons of the Empire Strikes back. Now maybe I am reading too much into it, but when I heard that two things came up for me. First was the overall anger towards the Last Jedi and the fact that many reviewers considered the Infinity War movie, similar to Empire in execution. In other words, Infinity War was a better Empire allegory than the actual Star Wars movie. Now, this disconnect for me shows that for me, that I now have a lot to think about. I liked the Last Jedi and I was a Star Wars fan but not a rabid fan. However, I liked the Last Jedi a lot and I loved Infinity war. But after watching the review I think I can nail down the things that both movies did differently.
- Infinity War, was intended to be a two part story, but in many ways, it was similar to Empire in that, it was intended to feel hopeless and have large stakes. This was nailed but like the unnamed reviewer said, the fact that the ramifications are to be undone in part two, means it was meaningless. It is a comic book movie after all.
- The Last Jedi, could have been the edgy second chapter of the Star Wars trilogy but instead it decided to actually try and change the tone and message. Many felt like the movie was personally attacking Star Wars fans by saying let the past die. However, the major theme is failure and learning from it. It is also saying that the mistakes of the Republic must not be made again. The fact that the first order is a threat at all is an indictment of the choices of the New Republic trying to reimplement the same old strategies. The old Star Wars way was flawed and that is ok. We can do better.
- Infinity War was about failure but in many ways the failure was simply a matter of being simply overpowered. The heroes made all sorts of hard decisions and sacrifices but in the end it was the heroic character of many of them that undid them. The sense of futility was more pronounced. The fact that the villain was the protagonist was a good choice, thematically speaking, but it meant that the heroes were doomed. Now the fact that there is a part 2 and that Marvel has movies involving characters that died in the movie coming out in the future means that most of it will be undone. The sequel will probably disappoint many people. In fact, it might actually be similar to the reception to Return of the Jedi.
- The last Jedi was damned if it did and damned if it didn’t when it came to the plot and the choices to actually try to move the plot forward was one of the more daring choices that unfortunately many Star Wars fans weren’t interested in.
- Infinity War will probably be better regarded than its sequel and is still in my mind, a good movie. However, I would say that the mixed messaging and tonal shifts are probably not the best. The continual raising the ante on the stakes also means that the Russo brothers will probably jump the shark in part 2. It will be hard to imagine the film not doing well but I imagine the film will get far more of a lukewarm reception by critics and fans after time has passed. I believe personally that the world needs more movies like the Last Jedi. We need to change how we look at and value human lives. The heroic archetypes could use a new change. I like both movies and look forward to seeing what happens next.