Either somebody at Marvel read my mind or the suits in charge have been playing one heck of a long game. Some time back I complained that superhero movies have fallen into a loud, jokey, hugely destructive sameness in which no one seems to suffer any real danger because, well, they're super and will always live to kick another butt another day.
Well, "Avengers: Infinity War" has certainly set out to prove me wrong.
The script this time around is so dark, don't expect to see the gang hanging around a New York City deli sharing bagels, coffee and snappy repartee during the extra clip after the end credits.
If anything, this movie finally delivers what fanboys have been craving: a real meat-and-potatoes plot that blends The Avengers with Guardians of the Galaxy and a villain bigger and badder than any they've ever encountered.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin and Chris Pratt, "Avengers: Infinity War" could easily be characterized as being unnecessarily bloated with superheroes. But, oddly enough, directors Anthony and Joe Russo, working from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have put together a sprawling epic that manages to hit all these marks.
The film is said to be inspired by Jim Starlin's 1991 "The Infinity Gauntlet" comic and Jonathan Hickman's 2013 "Infinity" comic, which branch off from the last "Avengers" movie, "The Age of Ultron." Essentially, it is built upon the traditional story arc in which a hero's or villain's raison d'etre is to acquire several special objects to amass something of ultimate power.
In this case, it's Thanos (Brolin), a major villain in the Marvel Universe. Thanos is determined to acquire the Infinity Stones, objects that each contain power over things, such as time, space, power, mind and soul, and set them in an Infinity Gauntlet, a big glove that when completed with all the stones will give him unlimited power over the universe.
Having practiced a psychotic plan elsewhere in which he killed half a planet's population, it soon becomes clear this is what Thanos plans for the entire cosmos. These stones are also basically MacGuffins, objects that exist to provide a plot point around which the story must revolve.
And, revolve it does as our heroes from earth, Asgard, and wherever Star-Lord (Pratt) has been hanging out, step into the fray. They end up in various teams to keep Thanos from getting the stones at various places among the stars. The action is, as you might expect, epic and on a scale that easily competes with previous movies, if that's possible. But, here, the stakes end up really, really big and permanent.
Now, it would not be a spoiler to say two scenes are pivotal to the next "Avengers" movie, so pay close attention if this matters to you. Also, stick around for a bonus scene after the end credits.
"Avengers: Infinity War" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language and some crude references.
It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
The following was edited from press materials.
The Death of Stalin
MPAA rating: R for language throughout, violence and some sexual references
Movies at the TCA
The one-liners fly as fast as political fortunes fall in this uproarious, wickedly irreverent satire from Armando Iannucci (“Veep,” “In the Loop”).
The place is Moscow, Russia. The year is 1953. When tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) drops dead, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to be the next Soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweeby Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the wily Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and the sadistic secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale).
As they bumble, brawl, and backstab their way to the top, the question becomes who is running the government? Combining palace intrigue with rapid-fire farce, this audacious comedy is a bitingly funny takedown of bureaucratic dysfunction performed to the hilt by a sparkling ensemble cast.
According to “Trivia” on imdb.com, “The movie was banned in Russia on January 23, two days before it was due to be released. The cultural ministry stated, ‘The distribution certificate for the film ‘The Death of Stalin’ has been withdrawn.’ One member of the culture ministry’s advisory board was quoted as saying, ‘The film desecrates our historical symbols — the Soviet hymn, orders and medals, and Marshal Zhukov is portrayed as an idiot,’ and added that the film’s release in advance of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad (February 2), would be ‘an affront to Russia’s World War II veterans.’”
If you’ve seen the trailer for this film, you know it’s a comedy-satire that will have you rolling in the aisles.
In addition to the above, director and co-writer Armando Iannucci’s film co-stars Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs and Paddy Considine.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (May 6), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (May 7-9).
Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.