AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Just as every living British actor made their way into a Harry Potter movie, so nearly every superhero (Bad luck, Hawkeye.) in the Marvel Comics world finds themselves in this highly entertaining flick. They’re all needed to thwart the intergalactic supervillain Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) who wants to get his “manos de piedras” on all six infinity stones that will give him control of the universe. But before you can say, “superhero version of THE LORD OF THE RINGS”, the plot takes off with multiple conflicts and storylines that keep the narrative rolling along at a consistently brisk pace. Production wise, no expense was spared and it definitely shows. The art direction and production designs of Charles Wood highlight multiple settings that contrast from the desolate to the very ornate. Even if the battle scenes become slightly repetitive after a time, they’re all well-orchestrated to optimize their CGI usage and benefit from the tight editing by Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt. The visual effects do overwhelm in a few scenes but are more than adequate enough to give the film the large scope that it wants to project. What keeps the work from being overblown is the primary storyline where the title characters are up against forces they might not be able to defeat. Heck, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is so traumatized by his initial encounter with Thanos that he has trouble working up enough rage to bring out his more green, destructive alter ego. It’s typical of the humor that exists in the screenplay of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely which, along with the combat sequences, keeps this overstuffed movie from ever being too tedious to watch. While this is undoubtedly a film for Marvel fanboys and their minions, it’s also one that can be appreciated by those who just enjoy skillful filmmaking of the escapist kind. What’s more, it accomplishes the essential task of making you want to come back and see the follow-up.

CRITIC’S GRADE: B+

CLOSING CREDITS: Any review of a Marvel movie nearly demands a discussion of its post-credit sequence. At the conclusion of this film, the surviving Avengers realize that Thanos’ plan to eliminate half of the Earth’s population has come to fruition. Meanwhile back in New York City, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are driving along in downtown traffic when a driverless car slams into them. Seconds later, both are “disintegrated” as part of Thanos’ genocidal scheme. But before Fury vaporizes, he’s able to dash off a message on a communications device where a star-shaped logo appears to confirm that his communique was received by none other than Captain Marvel a.k.a. Binary.