Avengers: Infinity War ★★★

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(Three Stars overall, Four Stars for the ending)


It’s quite challenging to talk about Marvel Studios’ all-hands-on-deck superhero cavalcade 'Avengers: Infinity War' without heading deep into spoiler territory. This isn’t just the usual critical reluctance to discuss crucial plot twists or the who-lives-and-who-dies specifics of the mega-franchise’s inevitable cast winnowing. Within the narrow limits imposed by the needs of a multi-billion-dollar entertainment brand, 'Infinity War' is a surprisingly bleak film – but it doesn’t start to become clear *how* bleak until roughly the last hour of a 2-hour-and-29-minute marathon of planet-hopping action mayhem. The final 15-or-so minutes of this third 'Avengers' feature are virtually guaranteed to inspire a tsunami of passionate comic-shop discussions, hyperbolic Reddit nerd-rage, and the inevitable chin-stroking essays on What This Means for Superhero Films.

In the interest of dialing back on the overheated dialogue that will inevitably surround this perhaps critic-proof feature, it’s worth stating at the outset that 'Infinity War' is a perfectly serviceable, unavoidably busy keystone chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It has everything this franchise’s devotees have come to expect from the series: memorable characters, stark pathos, cheeky one-liners, and lots of overstuffed splash-page posing that exploits this film’s mammoth assemblage of superpowered heroes. 'Infinity War' also possesses most of the flaws that have long bedeviled the MCU: glossy yet unmemorable action, timid cinematic ambition, an absurdly elastic timeline, and some downright illogical plotting. Suffice to say that viewers who have already eagerly devoured 40-odd hours of Marvel cinema will find 'Infinity War’ to be consistent with everything that has preceded it, both narratively and aesthetically...

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