Grade: A-
Entire family: Age 10 and older?
2018, 149 min., Color
Sci-fi/Fantasy Action-Adventure
Marvel/Disney
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence and action throughout, language and some crude references
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 7.1
Bonus features: B+
Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Code
Trailer
Best Buy link

The Marvel Universe has grown so large and complicated that it sometimes takes a fanboy to keep it all straight. But thankfully, Avengers: Infinity War isn’t all that hard to follow. For the casual film fan, that’s a big plus. Another is that Marvel-Disney has figured out that if you add enough cleverly written dialog and humor to an action film, it can compensate for any lack of character development and keep the action from seeming repetitive or mindless. And for a doom-and-gloom ending to The Avengers’ saga, a little bit of humor can go a long way. There’s something here to keep you on the edge of your seat, and something to make you smile.

And let’s be clear: the action is pretty spectacular. My son, who’s the Marvel devotee of the family, said he liked Avengers: Infinity War every bit as much as one of his favorites, Captain America: Civil War—maybe even more. It is, we thought, possibly the strongest Avengers film to date, despite a downer ending that everyone seems to know about before even watching the film.

From my perspective, a film like this is a shoe-in for repeat play because of the quality script and actors who’ve grown so comfortable with their characters that they fit like latex gloves. You buy into it because they buy into it, and you have fun because you’re watching them have fun, even as they sacrifice everything to meet the challenge of defeating Thanos (Josh Brolin) before he can gather up all the powerful infinity stones (e.g., Power Stone, Time Stone, Mind Stone, Soul Stone) and get the collective power he needs to destroy enough of the universe to “prune it back,” to reverse overpopulation by killing massive amounts of peoples.

Fans will love that Avengers: Infinity War is packed with Marvel heroes. Trying to stop Thanos are Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). That’s a big cast, to be sure, but because the characters appear in smaller groups in scenes that build and connect, it’s not all that hard to keep them straight as most of them eventually converge on Thanos and his villainous cohorts for a colossal confrontation.

Anthony and Joe Russo directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016), and they do an equally kick-ass job juggling all of the action and heroes and villains in this film as well. Don’t be too surprised if these two end up directing the next Guardians of the Galaxy film as well, if James Gunn isn’t reinstated. They’ve really got the Marvel formula down pat, and on hi-def Blu-ray Avengers: Infinity War looks and sounds fantastic. Turn off the lights and turn up the sound on this action flick and you’ll never see two-and-a-half hours pass so quickly.

But let’s talk about the level of violence. Even more than the previous two films that the Russos directed, Avengers: Infinity War seems to have more intense violence and more bloody scenes. Even though it’s all sci-fi comic-style violence, and viewers never forget that, the humor ironically brings us closer to the characters, so it can all start to feel a little more real to young viewers especially. Families have different thresholds for sci-fi violence, so how age-appropriate this is will vary. If I had to guess an average for today’s savvy young viewers, I’d say age 10 and older. Do you have to have seen the other Marvel films in order to enjoy this one? Well, it helps. They’re intended to build on each other and interlock, though it is possible to watch this installment as a stand-alone film.

Language: “Chill the F out,” “shit,” and “asshole” is pretty much the extend of it; not too many expletives, and they’re pretty mild
Sex: Implied hotel room sex but nothing is shown; Pratt’s character refers to someone’s “junk”; Rocket talks about hiding something up his butt
Violence: Here’s where the PG-13 rating comes in; more intense violence than in some other Marvel films, including bloody scenes, though it’s all sci-fi/comic violence
Adult situations: There’s some torture and beloved characters are disintegrated
Takeaway: Anthony and Joe Russo have emerged as the go-to guys for high-octane Marvel action films that also have a heavy infusion of humor—Go Team!

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