Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

You know things are going bat-shit sideways when the Incredible Hulk gets his ass kicked.

That's only one of many shocking developments (okay, sorry, no more spoilers) in "Avengers: Infinity War", which gathers nearly everyone in the Marvel Universe for an all-out offensive on its most fearsome villain yet. Thanos, the huge purple badass with limitless ambition and near unlimited power, leaves a massive footprint in the movie right out of the gate and then just continues to pile on the death and destruction over 150 minutes.

This allows for lots of action and mayhem (even more than in previous films), as well as some great interaction between various superheroes, some of whom have never met. A particular highlight is the bromance that develops between Thor and Rocket the wise-cracking racoon.

Iron Man/Tony Stark and Doctor Strange have essentially the same origin: two arrogant genuises, after suffering near-fatal adversity, learn the value of humility and using their abilities to serve mankind. I was really looking forward to the first battle of wits between these two comic alpha males, and I wasn't disappointed.

The plot is paper-thin, similar to that of last year's "Justice League": all the heroes get together to stop the cosmic megalomaniac from destroying/ruling the universe, that kind of thing. The difference here is that Thanos is far more realized and complicated, with a motivation you can almost understand. I love a movie villain who thinks he's the hero (and at one point, he even appears to weep with regret over his excesses). And with all these different characters converging in one story, fighting on three fronts (New York, Wakanda and Outer Space), I suspect that a thin plot is not just appropriate but necessary to keep things as coherent as possible for the audience.

But there's where it gets sticky: the sheer number of superheroes in this one movie is a fun idea, but in practice, the film gets top-heavy and it's kind of exhausting to follow all the various story threads after a while. The inevitable disadvantage is also the lack of time the audience gets with each character. You're really getting into the journey forged by one hero when the movie abruptly shifts to another locale and group of combatants. It gets a little tiring after a while. It's actually kind of a miracle that the film works as well as it does.

That being said, directors Joe and Anthony Russo do an epic job of keeping all these balls in the air for the film's duration, as well as hitting us with the boldest ending in the history of comic-based movies. Stay for the end credits, which give a tantalizing hint of what's in store for "Avengers 4" in 2019.

steve liked these reviews