Apparently, this latest instalment in the Marvel money making machine is the culmination of the 18 films that have preceded it, which obviously makes for high expectations from comic book geeks the world over.  As such, Infinity War brings together the various characters who populate the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with a couple of notable exceptions who seem likely to reappear in the already announced part 2) to join forces against an intergalactic overlord. Given that these films (and the characters who populate them) are amongst the highest earners in movie history, it is a given that those members of the Avengers ensemble who have seemingly met their demise in this chapter (much to the distress of audience members who take such matters way too seriously) will be back on screen in no time at all. The way in which this might be achieved is signposted with a distinct lack of subtlety, paving the way for the continuation of the franchise for many, many years to come.

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With a cast of unprecedented quality that includes the likes of Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage, William Hurt, Josh Brolin, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan and Carrie Coon just to name a few, directors Anthony and Joe Russo were faced with a burden that most directors can only dream about; how to wrangle so much talent (and the egos that accompany them) into something cohesive whilst utilising the capabilities of each performer to maximum effect, let alone trying to ensure pay equality across the board. With so many characters, none have any story arc of substance as the Russo’s focus on the myriad action sequences that take place in locations on earth and beyond, both real and fictional (New York, Scotland, Wakander and elsewhere).

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In a nutshell, Infinity War brings the Avengers together with other Marvel properties (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange) in a bid to thwart the despotic Thanos (Brolin) in his bid to collect six Infinity Stones; his possession of which will give him unimaginable power and result in half of the world’s population vanishing (although what the criteria is that determines who disappears and who survives is never really made clear). The fact that Thanos is the father of green galaxy guardian Gamorra (Saldana) is, I think, supposed to add some emotional heft to the showdown, but never do you feel conflicted about this father/daughter face-off, especially given the flashbacks that tell us how this family was formed. Interactions amongst the other characters beyond their collusion in combat comprise little more than witty quips – with Tony Stark/Ironman (Downey Jnr) and Star Lord (Pratt) leading the way in this regard – which do bring some much needed levity to proceedings but never offer any insight to any of the characters, which may well be due to the fact that with so many previous films, there is nothing left to be said.

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Whilst it doesn’t run, as the title suggests, in perpetuity, Avengers: Infinity Wars does become a bit of a slog at times as the ceaseless action sequences, which most certainly serve as a superb advertisement for the skills of the stunt performers and CGI artists who created them, start to become repetitive and somewhat tedious by the time it wraps up. Although, of course, it doesn’t really end with any sense of conclusiveness because Marvel Studios exists for no other reason than to keep churning out new adventures for this surfeit of superheroes. Fans of these films (of whom there are a great many if the box office receipts are any indication) will no doubt be boning up at the sheer scale of what this film offers, but the more casual and, dare I say, discerning, moviegoer might find it all a bit silly.