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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
4K Ultra HD Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Peter Dinklage, Gwyneth Paltro, voices of Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Josh Brolin
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
Features: See Review
Studio: Marvel
Length: 149 Minutes
Release Date: August 14, 2018

You throw another moon at me and I’m gonna lose it!”

Film **

Have the Avengers finally reached a tipping point?

Back when the first movie came out, it was such a thrill to see Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Captain America (Evans), Thor (Hemsworth) and Hulk (Ruffalo) together for the first time (along with Black Widow (Johansson) and Hawkeye) that even more casual comic fans such as myself were blown away. But the Marvel Universe had no choice from that point on…it had to get bigger and bigger, to the point where in this movie, they may be hoping you notice that one of the original Avengers is conspicuously absent.

Avengers: Infinity War has massively expanded the canvas to include Black Panther (Boseman), Dr. Strange (Cumberbatch), Spider-Man (Holland), and the Guardians of the Galaxy. No X-Men yet, and no Deadpool, but one can only imagine they’re coming.

They sort of team up to do battle with Thanos (voiced by Brolin), who has had an increasing presence in the movies, but now has a starring role. His objective: collect the infinity stones, which are elemental stones created by the big bang that can control various things such as time and space. Once they are all together, they can be used to eliminate half the life in the universe, thus restoring balance to overcrowding everywhere. One can only hope it means half of all INTELLIGENT life and not vegetation; if half the food goes with half the population, Thanos really accomplishes nothing.

There are a lot of characters to keep track off, and the Russo brothers seem to try and deal with this by compartmentalizing a bit; the entire team is never fighting in the same place at the same time. To an extent, it’s an effective organizing principle, but at the same time, doesn’t give us the all-out climax we might be expecting.

When last we saw the Avengers, there were no more Avengers by law. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers haven’t spoken since their last confrontation. But with Thanos, things are about to get big and ugly.

There’s plenty of good action, but with so many in the mix, the material gets very uneven. The Guardians try to inject some humor into the proceedings, but it never really works; their dialogue sounds more like writers from Screenwriting 101 coming up with things that made them snicker, but no one else would find funny. Hulk appears early on, then disappears, as Bruce Banner explains he’s beginning to have trouble bringing the big guy out when he needs him…some sort of Gamma-induced “wreck”-tile dysfunction, I suppose?

It turns out two of the final infinity stones are in the hands of our heroes; Dr. Strange uses one, and Stark’s AI creation Vision (Bettany) has another. This means, of course, Thanos cannot reach his ultimate goal without going through the Avengers.

The team puts up a noble fight, with plenty of good action and special effects, but the ending? Don’t worry, no spoilers here, but I have to say…I didn’t see this movie before now, and many who had seen it warned me about the emotional climax. And I was actually looking forward to this said climax; I had a feeling they might kill off Tony Stark, since I’d heard Robert Downey Jr. was ready to hang up the Iron Man suit.

Instead, what happened was so over the top that an emotional response was almost impossible. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from comic book universes, it’s that those who die rarely stay dead (I even remember one of those page-turning Facebook articles that chronicled all the ways Superman has died over the years). Anyone who believes Marvel would put the brakes on their big money-making machine isn’t thinking clearly. Which makes the big emotional climax nothing more than a cheat in my book.

This film had many chances to go for real loss, but even at two and a half hours, things have to keep moving, so we’re on to the next big event before anything can be processed. And that brings me back to my original point: maybe the Marvel universe HAS gotten too big to be effective. I don’t fully place the blame on Marvel; we fans keep wanting to see more and more and bigger and bigger…what we should hold out for is better and better instead.

Video ****

The Ultra HD 4K video looks spectacular…the Marvel logo itself has never looked so good! The UHD brings out all the vibrant, subtle colors and makes them pop of the screen, with crisp, clean detail in both light and dark sequences.

Audio ****

Likewise, the 7.1 audio really roars through your surround system, while keeping dialogue audible and well-balanced throughout. It delivers all you’d want and more from a big Hollywood action production.

Features **1/2

On the Blu-ray disc, there are 6 deleted/extended scenes and 5 short production featurettes.

Summary:

Avengers: Infinity War shows a franchise in danger of becoming too big for its britches. It’s far from a total loss, but unless they figure out a way to pace all of these characters’ stories in a manner that doesn’t produce a 4-hour movie, I’m not confident things are going to improve. But one thing I’m sure of…we’ll definitely have another chance to see that for ourselves.

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