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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Avengers: Infinity War

“Bad Samaritan” and “Higher Power” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

“Avengers: Infinity War” is like a final exam—only way, way more fun. The movie is a culmination of the past 10 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which kicked off with 2008’s “Iron Man.” All of the superheroes, villains, storylines, and objects (most notably the cosmic “Infinity Stones”) we’ve seen since Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) first blasted his way on to the big screen come to fruition in “Infinity War,” including this year’s earlier entry into the MCU, “Black Panther.” It’s been an amazing ride for the past decade—and it continues to be one.

After being hinted at as the big baddie since his mid-credits appearance in 2012’s “The Avengers,” we finally get to see the Thanos (Josh Brolin) in action. His M.O. is pretty straightforward. In order to achieve peace and balance in the universe, he goes to planets with his loyal minions and wipes out half of the population. But this is tedious, going one planet at a time. It would be much simpler if he could literally snap his fingers and half of the universe would vanish into dust. To do this, he had dwarf Eitri (Peter Dinklage) craft a gauntlet. This gauntlet can hold six Infinity Stones that control various aspects of the universe—Power, Space, Reality, Time, Soul, and Mind. Obtaining all six means that Thanos would become an omnipotent god-like being.

What impresses me the most about Thanos, having watched this movie twice, is how sympathetic he is as a character. Rather than the bellowing, maniacal, power hungry, one-dimensional madman who is the very definition of the term “comic book villain” (Steppenwolf in “Justice League,” I’m looking at you), we get a well-developed, soft spoken, introspective character who truly believes that his method of achieving peace and balance in the universe is the right one. Sure, he is misguided in his approach and what he wants to accomplish is heinous, but his thought process is clearly explained.

Interestingly—and I love this—he doesn’t even really care about having ultimate power for the sake of having it, as most villains would. There is no “I want to rule the universe” type selfishness with him. He has a higher purpose than just power. Getting the Infinity Stones is a means to an end, and once he’s accomplished his goal he’s content to sit on a hill and just watch the sun set. Side note: Comic book fans will point out that he also wants to impress Mistress Death, which is hinted at with the “court death” comment in the 2012 movie’s mid-credit sequence, but “Infinity War” does not mention this aspect of his motivation. Perhaps it will be in the sequel.

Most impressive of all is the ability of directors Anthony and Joe Russo to maintain multiple story lines and have every one of them be well motivated and engaging. The tone is absolutely perfect too. “Infinity War” earns its laughs as well as its tears, and there are plenty of each to go around. It’s good to see the franchise in such capable hands, and I am very hopeful for what the future brings for our heroes—and our villains. Buy it.

More New Releases: “Bad Samaritan,” Dean Devlin-directed movie about a pair of burglars who stumble upon a woman being held captive in a home they intended to rob; and “Higher Power,” about a man who finds himself the unwilling test subject of a maniacal scientist in a battle that could save the world, or destroy it.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.