Courtesy of Marvel Studios
As any Marvel fan knows, you can never get too much of a good thing, and so "Infinity War" promises that after ten years of chaos, destruction, laughs, foes, and mighty heroes the entire fate of this universe is being left to chance.
The headliner this time is Thanos (played via motion capture CGI by Josh Brolin who truly makes this role his own) whose been teased and teased ever since a post-credit cookie in 2012's "The Avengers" when everyone immediately tackled Google to find out who this purple-hulky figure was. This guy means business. And directors Joe and Anthony Russo have managed a daunting task of combining an entire generation of heroes (new and old) to deliver a heart-pounding, emotionally strenuous, sometimes overwrought, entry into this franchise, and no I won't divulge any lengthy plot descriptions for fear of my own life.
In the times we've seen Thanos, he's always talked about and sought precious "Infinity Stones" - relics that can control time, space, reality --- just about anything really. If you've been keeping a track record (or just watched some handy Youtube info videos) you'll know that each stone has taken sanctuary in different locales and Thanos is on the hunt. When the film starts, it picks up the pieces of where "Thor Ragnarok" left off, with the purple giant searching for those pesky stones to fuel his infinity gauntlet. A handy mechanism that houses all the stones, that once he's procured all six, can snap his fingers and demolish half of the universe.
Back on Earth, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) seems to have moved on, somewhat, from the events of "Civil War" and is engaged to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow in her only scene in the film) - except he's visited by another world hero Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and is informed of the impending attack. Elsewhere, you've got Spider-Man (Tom Holland) fleeing from a field trip to help lead the charge, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) struggling with his inner "mantra," Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finding refuge with the "Guardians of the Galaxy" bunch and Captain America (Chris Evans) standing side by side with Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Bucky Barnes in Wakanda (my entire theater roared when these two showed up on screen.)
If that sounds like a boatload, trust me it is. The screenplay penned by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely doesn't shy away from throwing even the smallest of side characters in for a go around. While others (Black Widow and War Machine) aren't given much to do. Eventually, the characters get split into three different subgroups and it feels like you're flipping through the channels at home going back and forth between different movies. You've got one battle royal taking place on Thanos home planet of Titan, while another one is taking place in Wakanda and the script does a fine job of keeping a steady flow. The lengthy two hours and thirty minutes was a breeze.
That being said, there are some issues. For example, bringing together everyone on a grander scale doesn't always mean rock-solid chemistry. Some of the characters just have clashing personalities, and it takes awhile for them to warm up to one another (half of "Infinity War" is characters breaking the ice for the first time.) But you could say that about anyone, because if you stuck 40 people inside a small room: chances are, someone would clash with the other. That's not necessarily a fault of "Infinity War" it's just the way each character has been written before.
You’ll also be thrilled to know that, for as dark and ominous as most of the film is, the humor is well attuned and almost every quip or zinger lands exceptionally, (Doctor Strange and Iron Man need their own movie stat.)
And that brings us back to Thanos, a character that's truly the pinnacle of this universe. You can't take him down, you really can't stop him and Brolin adds so much depth. Honestly, you could teach a philosophical lecture on this guy and the debate would be endless. His motives could make you question his mindset, and the screenplay allows those ideas to shine through. It's not a spoiler to state the presences Thanos has had over the past few years and his big and bold showdown doesn't disappoint. It's the reason "Infinity War" stands so tall among the masses: because it puts our characters in real jeopardy with real consequences.
Now does "Infinity War" have a plethora of CGI excess overload? You betcha. But does it uniquely blend the characters, and fittingly award them proper screen time without becoming a convoluted mess? Yes.
This film isn't perfect and it still represents a formula that Marvel has tapped into for a decade: if it ain't broke don't fix it. But the conclusion of this one will most assuredly leave fans a little uneasy, (this was always a two-parter - and the sequel is due out next summer) which is only going to make the waiting game for next May that much harder.