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‘Infinity War’ delivers on promise

In+the+film%2C+Chris+Pratt+reprises+his+role+as+Star-Lord+from+%22Guardians+of+the+Galaxy.%22%0A%0A%28Image+courtesy+of+IMBD%29
In the film, Chris Pratt reprises his role as Star-Lord from

In the film, Chris Pratt reprises his role as Star-Lord from "Guardians of the Galaxy." (Image courtesy of IMBD)

In the film, Chris Pratt reprises his role as Star-Lord from "Guardians of the Galaxy." (Image courtesy of IMBD)

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This may be the most unnecessary review I’ll ever write (but please, read on). If you need to be told “Avengers: Infinity War” is about an alien from the moon Titan named Thanos who wants to bring balance to the universe by destroying half of it with the Infinity Stones, chances are you weren’t going to see it anyway. We are now ten years and 19 films deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), so you are either onboard or you have some catching up to do. And this is an Avengers film, so don’t expect to be able to just jump in like “Spider-Man: Homecoming” or “Black Panther” and understand what is going down. If you haven’t seen the other MCU films at least once (except probably “The Incredible Hulk,” and even the MCU ignores that one), you better bring along a knowledgeable and patient friend who will tolerate your constant questions while they try to enjoy a film they’ve been looking forward to for the better part of the last decade. If that’s the case, it’s probably better that you just not see it at all.

Now if you have kept up with the MCU then I doubt the film that brings everyone from Iron Man to Rocket Racoon onto the screen will be the one you decide to skip because of superhero fatigue. In fact, many of those in the “up to date on the MCU” camp probably have tickets to see it if they haven’t seen it already. Disney has been pushing this as what the entire cinematic universe has led to and that is just something you cannot pass up, even if it disappoints (*cough* Batman v. Superman *cough*). It seems to me that the middle ground between this group and the “was never going to see it” crowd is extremely small. But for those of you out there who are in that middle ground, along with the far greater number of you who just want some validation: I’m here for you.

Yes, every hero you see crammed onto the poster makes an appearance in the film. Also, yes, Hawkeye and Ant-Man are not in the film. Putting all those heroes into one film comes with all the pluses and minuses you would expect.  On the one hand, no one hero or group gets much time on screen. Even in making this the longest of the MCU films at about 180 minutes, it can feel like no one gets the chance to shine. We know these characters and there isn’t a need for them to make some defining discovery, but some may feel like their favorite Avenger never got the time in the sun they deserved. Additionally, the pacing can struggle as the film starts bouncing between story arcs. While each character has loved ones they want to save from Thanos’s mass genocide, Gamora and Drax have particularly personal connections to him. This can make their stories seem more compelling, and if you find yourself more interested in one group’s tale rather than another’s, the long gaps in between story arc jumps can make the film drag.

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Contrarily, watching the personalities of the Guardians of the Galaxy clash with the likes of Thor and Tony Stark creates some incredibly humorous moments as they learn how to work together. Similarly, we get moments reminiscent of the Dr. Strange cameo in “Thor: Ragnarok” as Strange hastily tries to explain to Stark how magic works and what the Infinity Stones are. The Russo brothers did a wonderful job overall ensuring that each matchup of characters was one we had not seen in the previous films and the script emphasized those new personalities.  In fact, these moments stood out to me more than any of the action sequences.

So while some may feel the story drags, it is tough to deny that it’s in many ways a story very much unlike others we have seen in the MCU. This is impossible to get into without gracing spoiler territory, so for the few of you reading this who have not seen the movie I’ll play it safe. Suffice it to say, it is a comic book plot for sure, but it is an intriguing, memorable and coherent one. Accomplishing that with so many characters is an achievement in itself.

While it is all too easy to gawk at your favorite heroes on screen together, you’ll note that not even Robert Downey Jr.’s face eclipses the size of Thanos’s wrinkly mug. Indeed, he receives far more attention than any hero, much to the film’s benefit.  After spending multiple films with most of these heroes, the film knows it’s not  necessary to develop their characters. Instead, we get to see the build up of this alien, Thanos, who is meant to be the ultimate evil. Thanos had only been seen in brief post-credits sequences or mentioned in the Guardians films, but now we finally see him in action. Thanos is given ample opportunity to flaunt his dominance over the universe’s mightiest heroes, which hastily and effectively builds his threat level. Just as importantly, his motivation is given a clear explanation that helps him become more than just a big bald dude who is really strong. The film does a phenomenal job really crafting him as a character, creating probably its second most memorable villain (it’s hard to beat Loki in just one movie).

“Infinity War” is everything it was promised to be. The film still has the trademark MCU quips, a memorable villain and action scenes that somehow manage to give each character their five minutes of fame. It might not be enough for some, but it’s hard to argue the Russo brothers could have done much better given the immense task that faced them.

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‘Infinity War’ delivers on promise