By Eleanor Ringel Cater
“Avengers: Infinity War” is so damnably self-confident, you almost want to dislike it on principle.
But that’s just it. The movie deserves to be full of itself. That’s because it is full of itself, to the point of being as overstuffed as a holiday piñata.
Something like 18 or more assorted superheroes show up to battle a super super villain named Thanos. Played by a CGI-enhanced Josh Brolin, Thanos is a kind of population explosion fanatic. He believes — and there is some truth to this — that an overpopulated galaxy translates, sooner or later, into a dead galaxy.
Instead of donating to Planned Parenthood, he decides the best way to save a universe is to eliminate half of the population. Perhaps that’s why his spaceship vaguely resembles a gigantic IUD from the mid 1970s.
Anyway, to carry out his version of birth control, he needs to collect six Infinity Stones. Like a meta-charm bracelet. Or, as Tony Stark, aka, Iron Man, aka Robert Downey Jr. explains, “He’s from space. He came here to steal a necklace from a wizard.”
It’s as serviceable a plot summary as any.
Said wizard is one Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, surprisingly, has never me Stark. Turns out not every superhero knows every other superhero. A good deal of the film’s considerable pizzazz comes from, say, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his Guardians of the Galaxy encountering Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Or Captain America (Chris Evans) teaming up with the Blacks —as in Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
The movie is long — 2 hours and 40 minutes — and around the two-hour mark, fatigue sets in. We’ve just endured so many battles and quip-heavy exchanges and Things Blowing Up.
But the picture pulls itself back together for a rip-roaring “It’s Clobbering Time!!” finale (Gee, the Fantastic Four must feel so left out…)
And yes, as you’ve no doubt heard, there are some last-act losses that could mean The End for certain beloved characters (the sequences reminded me of The Rapture) or could — my guess — mean a series of resurrections in “Avengers: Infinity War — Part II.”
Oh, you didn’t know?
Like Harry Potter and the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones and everything else that’s popped out of pop culture in the last few years, the Avengers finale has a second half.
It’s coming soon — but not too soon — to a theater near you.