Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a decade of plots together

Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
With Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt

Almost the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe gang returns for Avengers: Infinity War, the follow up to 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The $300 million to $400 million spectacular, running 149 minutes, is the 19th entry in the series, so fans who just joined because of the recently successful Black Panther will have a bit of catching up to do. The series began in 2008 with Iron Man.

The Avengers have been at odds with one another since the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War, and the group is divided when this new entry starts. Some of the members remain wanted criminals due to events in previous episodes.

Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr) and some of the others are trying to put the past behind them and move on with new lives.

A lot of new characters have been introduced, and the roster is quite crowded. Avengers: Infinity War brings the cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy films together with the people around Tony Stark / Iron Man, the remnants of the followers of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) after the events of Thor: Ragnarok, and Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The film keeps its cynical humor, and many of the characters are a bit flippant with each other when they first meet, despite being in a dire situation. There is some humor when people on the same side get into conflict before figuring out who is who. Thor keeps his rather grandiose attitude, playing the straight man to some of the other characters' jokes. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) continues to bumble his way through everything while listening to vintage rock.

The villain is Thanos, played by Josh Brolin via motion capture. Thanos figured heavily in the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy films and appeared in the end credits of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which dropped a big hint about the direction of the plot for the sequel.

Viewers of the film are urged not to divulge too much of the plot twists and surprises, but the general group of characters can be figured out from the poster and acting credits.

The crowded cast means that some favorite characters wind up with precious little screen time. If you blink you could miss some of the characters.

The male characters largely lead the action, with Tony Stark, Thor, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Dr. Strange doing the heavy lifting. Thanos all but steals the show.

The Marvel Universe still has a bit of a problem with female characters taking a back seat. Several at least contribute to the plot, but Marvel has a long way to go to catch up to Wonder Woman in the rival DC Universe. A Marvel film coming out in March 2019 should finally have a female superhero as the main character.

In Avengers: Infinity War, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) gets a chance to show emotion. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is unfortunately largely wasted, and seemed included just so the actress's name could be on the credits.

Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos, has one of the more substantial roles, but still does not get past the cliches of being a plot device first and a character second. Mantis (Pom Klementieff), also from the Guardians of the Galaxy crew, briefly gets a chance to use her powers.

Fans of Black Panther should be satisfied that significant elements of that popular recent film have been carried over.

The plot can be a bit choppy at times, as the filmmakers try to fit in some screen time for all of the characters while even introducing some new ones.

The action splits into scenes in outer space and on earth, making it a bit hard to keep track of who is where trying to accomplish what.

But the vast outer space realms and some of the terrestrial locations are impressive, and the action scenes certainly don't skimp on adrenaline and suspense.

A sequel was filmed at the same time but won't come out for another year so people will just have to wait for some cliff hangers to be explained.

But in the meantime there will be a lot for fans to discuss. And don't forget to sit all the way through the credits for a crucial hint at the next plot.

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