(out of 5)
The merry band of gifted heroes were split up in a Civil War that now sees them scattered across the globe, which is a real shame considering that another megalomaniac is about to destroy planet Earth with a magical trinket. Thanos of the planet Titan (voiced by Josh Brolin) is out to gain a collection of sacred stones that possess all the powers of the universe (and come with a handy glove for maximum display), which inspires the good guys to put aside their differences and help prevent the annihilation of life as we know it: the multi-strand plot involves the wisecracking Guardians of the Galaxy, a compromised Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the emotionally frustrated Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the always exasperated Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and his protege Spider-Man (Tom Holland), a sulking Captain America (Chris Evans in a bad wig), the newly celebrated Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and the romantically blissful Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her handsome bicentennial man Vision (Paul Bettany). The combo packs that Marvel offers in these adventures threaten to become more ridiculous and unwieldy the more they make them, but energetic direction and a tight script keep this one track and in fine form throughout. Despite disappointing us with an overall plot that resembles many that came before it (bad guy wants a toy, good guys have to topple buildings and cause environmental destruction in the name of the greater good), it only ever has two or three stories going simultaneously, overwhelmed with personalities but never with narratives. As a result the film never feels messy, and despite the fact that its characters rarely have more than two modes of expression (sassy jokes or lock’n’load) the dazzling cast have great fun playing roles that they have, at this point, taken complete ownership of and the pleasure shows. The emphasis on a great deal of action happening in space means there are plenty of gorgeous visuals, and Zoe Saldana stands out from the rest as Gamora, the galaxy guardian whose personal tie to the villain makes for the most involving plot element.
Screenplay by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and characters created by Joe Simon, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan, Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen, Jim Starlin, Larry Lieber, Don Heck
Cinematography by Trent Opaloch
Produced by Kevin Feige
Music by Alan Silvestri
Production Design by Charles Wood
Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky