The 2018 Golden Cages: Best Action Movie

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Welcome one and all to Flixist’s new end of the year awards program, the Golden Cages! With Hollywood becoming increasingly out of touch with what the people like, we at Flixist have taken it upon ourselves to deliver the fair, balanced, dignity-filled awards you deserve. Why are we delivering our 2018 awards so late in the year? Because the Oscars do it and we’re better than them. The winners of the Golden Cages will be spread out over the next two weeks, right before the hostless Academy Awards.

Who gets to decide a film is an “epic?” What are the qualifications? Runtime? Cast size? Number of locations, extras involved..? It’s all a bit subjective. Well, Infinity War has a little something to say. How about 149 minutes of double-digit superheroes facing off across the damn galaxy, hurdling towards a thousand-warrior climax all in the name of saving half of life in all of existence? How about that?

Action movies (good ones, anyway) have a lot going on behind the glitz and glamor, the explosions and shootouts. “Why do I care?” is something you shouldn’t be asking yourself when our hero is diving through digitally-enhanced hoops of fire while juggling a baby in one arm and an assault rifle in the other. There’s the sensory experience of YEAH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE BABY, but a good action film will have you invested in the safety of our characters, and affect you all the more because of it.

Those Russo Brothers had it easy! (They, of course, didn’t, filmmaking is a beautiful nightmare; thank your dolly grips.)

Avengers: Infinity Warhad an incredibly interesting, unique position to start. After ten years of films building the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have our pawns, we have our set-ups; the dominoes are standing. Let’s see what happens when they start to fall.

Through individual, character-based films and origin stories, as well as team-ups and crossovers that seem utterly minuscule now, we’ve come to learn and love these characters in a way few other film franchises have allowed. The MCU, as I always like to say, is the most expensive television series ever conceived. And Infinity War was a season finale. 

Not a minute wasted in a lengthy film already, actual action scenes deliver the thunder and fury while our plot is moved along by cosmic spectacle and character banter to fill a fanboy’s dreams. And what would our herculean heroes be without a villain?

Thanos, beyond being the Grimace’s evil cousin (although I myself forget that Grimace was actually introduced as a nefarious milkshake-gobbler), is a villain with a heart. A good one? Well, the jury’s out; they don’t call him the Mad Titan for nothin’. Thanos’ sinister scheme to annihilate half of the universe’s population is hyperbolic almost to the point of comedy, but the gravitas Josh Brolin lends the character with his performance and the lengths to which we’re shown Thanos’ history add character to what could have been a cartoon. I don’t know that anyone would really sympathize with the guy, but you start to see what’s goin’ on in that purple noodle of his, and that makes the threat all the more real, and all the more exhilarating to combat.

And the threat… Well, we’ve all seen the movie, but it would still feel wrong to discuss the ending so openly. You’re here because we liked Infinity War a whole lot, and hope you like it too! But the penultimate Avengers film does not jest when it says its heroes are in a life-or-death struggle.

Infinity War as an action film is a feat of balancing. We get massive, all-out war as well as more intimate brawls, all gorgeously shot and deftly edited. But what sets Avengers apart as the best at what it does this past year is the baggage. The history audiences have with these characters shines through, making every victory sweeter and every defeat graver, ending on a note so startling this past year has felt like one long-held breath. 

We’re in the endgame now.