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Avengers: Infinity War ***

Trust me: You are not prepared for what you are about to see, but you should definitely see it!

Is it worth $10? Yes

Since “Iron Man” in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been using cutting-edge visual effects to tell entertaining stories on a grand scale, and has billions in box office gross to show for it. Nothing, however, can prepare you for what happens in “Avengers: Infinity War,” which is guaranteed to shock you.

No worries, this is a spoiler-free review. Just be prepared for anything, because stuff is about to go down. The premise has been teased and known for years: Thanos (Josh Brolin), the baddest villain in the galaxy, seeks to acquire all six Infinity Stones, which will give him absolute power in the universe. It’s up to the principals of the MCU to stop him: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and more.

Numerous supporting characters from the MCU also appear, and it’s a credit to writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, as well as director-brothers Joe and Anthony Russo (“Captain America: Civil War”), that the 149-minute film is balanced and never rushed, with all the characters feeling prominent and necessary. The disparate storylines connect in a logical, unforced way, and the chemistry amongst the cast members, especially those who’ve never shared the screen before, is seamless. It’s as if the actors have watched one another’s movies and are excited to finally work together.

Expectedly, the action, visual effects and spectacle of it all are impressive, but what should not be overlooked is its humor. Spider-Man has choice pop culture references, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) offers some good laughs, and Downey’s Tony Stark is, well, his amusing self. Here’s why this is important: If the movie were all action, death and destruction, it would be joyless (you know, like DC’s “Batman v. Superman”). Adding the humor, and interspersing some softer colors, engages the audience with warmth, and makes you like and root for the characters. Without this it would be all gloom and despair, yielding a final product dourer than it should be.

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“Avengers: Infinity War” is not a great movie, but it is certainly good, a popcorn muncher that’s thoroughly enjoyable and not at all a let down. Regarding the ending, remember this is part one of two, with the as yet untitled “Infinity War” sequel opening May 3, 2019. If you’re a fan of the MCU, odds are you’ll spend a good amount of time between now and then speculating what’s to come, and the fact that this “Infinity War” inspires that discussion is significant in itself. Per usual, for an idea of what’s next stay through the credits – there’s a scene at the end you will not want to miss.

Did you know?
Fans will not have to wait long for the next MCU installment – “Ant-Man and the Wasp” opens July 6, 2018.

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