Should I see Avengers: Infinity War on Imax?

Do Infinity War's epic battles and huge cast of larger-than-life Marvel characters fill the Imax screen? (Spoiler-free!)

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
3 min read
Marvel Studios

If there's one thing you can say about Avengers: Infinity War, it's that it's big. Really big.  

Not only does the film have a huge cast list, recruiting 70-odd characters from 18 previous movies and countless comics. Not only do each of these characters have their own larger-than-life powers rendered in eye-popping visual effects. And not only does Infinity War traverse the vastness of the universe, from Earth to various distant planets. It combines all of these oversized elements into enormous action sequences in which massed ranks of heroes and villains clash in epic style.

Which is why it makes sense that this was the first Hollywood feature filmed entirely with Imax cameras. With so much going on, you need a screen some 20 metres (66 feet) high and 30 metres (98 feet) wide just to fit it all in. So, without getting into spoilers, is it worth seeking out an Imax screen to take in the spectacle that is Infinity War?

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo shot the movie using Alexa Imax digital cameras. Previously, some films have shot certain grandstand sequences in Imax format, including the big airport fight in the Russos' Captain America: Civil War and some scenes in The Dark Knight and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

There are two reasons to see Infinity War on a giant Imax screen. No. 1 is those big battles. There's just so much going on you need the biggest possible screen to let it wash over you.

Of course, not everybody loves banging and crashing and noisy battle scenes, and the overcrowded frenetic battle scenes could be overwhelming. Which brings us to our second reason to see the movie in Imax: the characters.

Los Angeles Global Premiere for Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Infinity War"
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Los Angeles Global Premiere for Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Infinity War"

Look how many people are in this ridiculous darn movie. 

Rich Polk/Getty Images for Marvel Films

Sometimes the screen is filled with characters exchanging punches and laser blasts, and it's all a bit much. And other times all that drops away to a close-up on individual characters. To go with the big visuals, long-time fans of Marvel will feel some big emotions as their favourite characters are put through the wringer, and when the camera focuses in on those characters you get some highly charged moments. 

Watch this: Avengers: Infinity War was worth the wait

It's these hero shots that really connect with audiences. When Black Panther, Thor and chums look into the camera and set their jaws, those are the moments that draw cheers from the crowd. And the impact of those hero shots are magnified by the huge screen.

And it helps of course that those Marvel stars are all pretty easy on the eyes, especially when those luscious locks and chiselled jaws are 20 metres high.

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Speaking of larger-than-life characters, how could we forget the villain of the piece: the purple potentate himself, Thanos. Thanos is an absolute unit, beating the green off the Hulk's heinie just for fun. His total domination of the galaxy and the puny human heroes arrayed against him is signalled by his looming size and brick-like chin filling the screen.

Of course, if you can't make it to an Imax screen you can take comfort in the fact that not everything in Infinity War fills the screen so effectively. With all that eye-popping CGI in the foreground, someone seems to have forgotten to drop in the background. Without giving too much away, the settings are almost uniformly gloomy, bland and -- worst of all -- largely indistinguishable.

Like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Infinity War hops across the universe to assorted planets. But Guardians features a varied range of settings -- compare the airy open spaces of Xandar with the foreboding dive of Knowhere and the shimmering golden home of the Sovereign. The various spaceship interiors look the same, and many of the planets look very similar.

As the trailers reveal, we do spend some time in Wakanda, but if you've seen Black Panther you'll find that setting very familiar too. Infinity War sorely lacks the dizzying multicoloured diversity of the Guardians movies, the eye-popping psychedelic imagination of Doctor Strange or the sense of visual fun of Thor: Ragnarok.

There is one glorious, surreal and all-too-brief exception, which I can't get into except to say it involves Thanos. But I've said too much.

Avengers: Infinity War is in theatres now. Whatever size you see it, it's a Marvel movie on a different scale.

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