• by Wes Singleton

Avengers: Infinity War, B-

Rated PG-13, 140 minutes

The entertaining new Marvel entry "Avengers: Infinity War" pulls out all the stops, with an all-star cast of Marvel characters, some decent action set pieces, and a provocative, even downbeat, ending that could cast doubt on future Marvel films (but I'm sure they'll find a way around it). Overlong and with an overly ambitious narrative, it's not the strongest entry in the Marvel Universe, but it will surely be one of its most controversial.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet -- the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin, also the bad guy in the upcoming "Deadpool 2"). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

"Avengers: Infinity War" is a solid action-adventure fantasy piece that tends to throw most of what you know about the Marvel Universe out the window, especially an ending that'll make you wonder if many of the contracts for the cast had expired. It's directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, who directed the last two "Captain America" films, and co-written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, also of the "Captain America" films.

In this outing, there are three overlapping narratives, all revolving around the Avengers' efforts to stop the evil Thanos (Brolin) from getting all the stones, which are the key to controlling the universe. The divide-and-conquer narratives have all the Avengers, separately or together, traipsing all over the universe, doing their best to retain control over the universe, and is a real mixed bag. Some of it works (the Pratt/Downey pairing is funny), while some of it doesn't (it spends considerable time on Thor's hammer), with some characters getting more time than others (too much Dr. Strange, not enough Hulk, Black Panther or Captain America, all of whom have less to do here).

The action scenes are as solid as ever as are the visuals, but overall, there's too much going on, too many characters and it goes on too long, with a slower middle section that could've easily been trimmed by about 20 minutes. Some may disagree with me, but I'd say that "Infinity War" is the weakest of the three "Avengers" films, lacking the leaner, meaner storytelling of the first two films.

Even with some flaws, "Infinity War" is an enjoyable ride, except for its controversial and frustrating ending, which will be interesting to see how it'll be handled in future Marvel films.

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