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Avengers: Infinity War (No Spoilers, Kind of a Review)

Avengers: Infinity War (No Spoilers, Kind of a Review) by FilmZ and Guy S. Malone, Researcher

We're supplementing the writing duties of Guy S. Malone, Researcher, today because, frankly, we need checks to avoid spoilers.  Also, we will only talk about Avengers: Infinity War in the most tangential, abstract way while still making sure you get some helpful information, but we can't emphasize enough that you need to see Avengers: Infinity War ASAP.  There are some serious trolls and idiots who derive sick pleasure out of ruining surprises for people. 

First, let us say that we liked it--a lot.  Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo have multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies under their belts, and they've got the style down pretty well by now.  For substance, they brought along chief screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely from Captain America: Civil War, which featured a dozen heroes.  At the release of that movie, we were worried super elbows would be flying as characters vied for screen time.  As it turned out, my fears were baseless.  But Infinity War featured nearly two dozen heroes; how was that going to work?  Pretty well, thank you, although the 149 minutes run-time helped (and, no, I didn't check my watch).

The very basic, no spoilers premise is: super-villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) has set a career goal of collecting all six Infinity Stones (several of which have been located in previous films).  If he gets them all, he will become virtually indestructible and rule the Universe. 

All that stands between him and his goal are:
The Avengers (Earth and Asgard)- Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Vision (Paul Bettany), and fledgling Avenger Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland).
The Mystical World - Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong).
The Guardians of the Galaxy - Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn), Groot (Vin Diesel, Terry Notary), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Gamora's sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). 

Rounding out the crew of good guys are several other familiar and pivotal characters: Americans, Asgardians, Aliens, and Wakandans--like Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and others.  So many superheroes and friends splash across the screen that the movie doesn't have room for regular folks, except as backdrop.

How can Thanos possibly defeat such a fearsome array.  Well, first, he is a Titan, so he's imposing in  his own right.  Second, he has bred an imposing gang of family and friends, several of whom would carry a film's archvillainy on their own: Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), Proxima Midnight (an unrecognizable Carrie Coon), Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary), and Corvus Glaive (Michael Shaw).  Third, every time Thanos picks up another Infinity Stone his powers increase exponentially.

If you have seen even a couple MCU movies, you've got the formula down, and you could probably write a rough outline to be filled in by specifics: a threat is posed; heroes are introduced, individually or as small groups in touching, meet cute, heroic, or humorous ways; each vignette is interspersed with evidence of a mounting peril; Tension mounts to critical mass proportions; a climactic battle that lasts too long ensues in which our super-heroes are poised on the precipice of defeat ... .

Avengers: Infinity War has it all.  To put it into perspective with the other movie in the series, it has more tender and emotional moments than most and barely enough humor to lighten this, the most gravitas-laden of the 19 MCU films extant.  (It would take Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarok-level laughs to balance the tone here, but the weight is intentional.  In several ways A:IW is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, not surprising in that it serves as prelude to the next Infinity War 2.

Ideally, by this time, you have seen all 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, but honestly, you can bag The Incredible Hulk.  Although it's a decent movie, it stars Edward Norton, who was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in subsequent films.  So, 17 movies.  Wait.  Ant-Man pulls a no-show, too.  And some of the movies stray enough from the ongoing mythology that they are not requisite to your understanding and enjoyment of A:IW.  In truth, though it helps to have seen a few, including one from each of the main characters/groups, plus the most recent few.  There is not a lot of exposition to catch the viewer up with what is going on; we are expected to know what is happening from the opening scene onward.  Having said that, is it critical to have seen all 18 precursor films?  No.  In fact, you can get away without having seen any.  Here is what you do:
1) See the movie with someone who has already seen it.
2) Do not, repeat, DO NOT ask questions during the movie.
3) Go out for coffee or drinks afterward and ask away.
4) See it a second time (you will likely want to).

Is Avengers: Infinity War the best of the MCU movies?  A lot of critics say no, but I don't know how we can judge it at all since only half of the tale has been told.  Considering everything mentioned above, I'll have to rate it:
8.0 out of 10 on an Entertainment Scale
7.0 out of 10 on an Artistic Scale


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