Movie Review-The Avengers: Infinity War

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Thanos, who is already responsible for millions of deaths, is escalating his game as one of the most heinous wrongdoers in the universe. He has set out to acquire six stones that will make him omnipotent and unstoppable.

Thanos’ (a computer created giant, voiced by Josh Brolin) has Earth as an essential part of his itinerary. And he will proceed to the planet causing mayhem and mass destruction in New York, inevitably attracting the attention of superheroes. Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are less than pleased that the city is once again on the verge of being reduced to rubble. They come together with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who has a good reason for seeking revenge and the Guardians of the Galaxy — one of whose members, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), has a longstanding link to the supervillain.

The battle between the superheroes and the Thanos reaches the African nation of Wakanda, where Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) realises that his warriors may not be able to defeat Thanos, even with Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) on their side.

Yet, they will fight for the survival of the planet.

At one point early in the new movie the big, purple bad guy snarls, "The end ... is near." In a way, he's talking about the Avengers movies themselves. The superhero supergroup has already saved the world in three movies and countless comic books and this one is just what you expect it to be, a comic-book flick that’s thrilling and enthralling and sometimes pretentious and preposterous. The story is just an excuse for the action sequences when in doubt, blow stuff up.

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Yet, roaring through 160 minutes of action, humour, character development, epic evil and moving nobility, the film is darker and edgier, yet lighter and more stirring than anything offered in another superhero franchise. Instead of reinventing the wheel for the superheroes, Infinity War makes the genre bigger and spins it faster.

The heroes have their work cut out for them: battling Thanos and his metal-grey hench-folk, and also explaining things like those all-powerful Infinity Stones so you'll know why folks are throwing asteroid-sized objects at one another. Iron Man and Doctor Strange handle most of the expository heavy lifting.

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The three Chris(es)-Evans, Hemsworth and Pratt, are present and accounted for, with Evans' Captain America doing his decent soldier thing, while the others, intergalactic pretty-boys Thor and Star-Lord, puff out their chests most part of the film.

And then there is our super villain, a brutal idealist, Thanos who at times is an almost sympathetic antihero. He is bent on correcting everything that he perceives as unbalanced in the universe by eradicating half its populace. So what’s sympathetic? He adopts an orphaned little one, perhaps as a sense of atonement. He even sheds a tear on occasion before destroying a new planet. What’s anti-hero then? He trains her to join his murderous mission.

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Anthony and Joe Russo, the brothers who brought us the last two Captain America movies, are responsible for the action here. Every action scene is like an infinity war-interminable battle scene. The script, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, adds the requisite doses of humour, but one finds the emotional power missing that could match all the graphic thrills. Perhaps a lesson from Black Panther could help. The film worked well because its story functioned on both a visceral and an emotional level.

Overall, the length of the film plays out to be the biggest drawback for what could have been a tight action-packed thriller. It was shooting for being an epic saga but ended up being an elongated part one. Multiple heroes (or superheroes) means we remember just a few in the end. For fans of the series this may be movie manna to feed their souls, but for the rest of us, it was just an okay film made as good as it was by the humour included.

Infinity War for Avengers saga is like the middle chapters in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars: It leaves you hungry for next summer's finale.

★★★ 1/2

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