⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The first of five parts, Marvel’s The Avengers: Infinity War (Pt. 1) (try saying that with two mouthfulls of leech Schnapps) has it all: loud explosions, quiet explosions, fighting, running, running and fighting, amazing sound design, top drawer special effects, rich, cartoony colors and lighting, and an outstanding cast.

Director Art Charee (Barefoot In The Park) pits Irons and Hulky and Spides etc against the Earth’s greatest threat so far: Captain Purple, intergalactic a-hole, perfume purveyor and part-time pickle farmer. His powers are unknown, but his sister is super strong, and he’s at least twice as fat and five times uglier. His spaceship is made of wood, which makes it untrackable, so he can come and go as he pleases. And he wears the Rings of the Realm which afford him attacks of pure gold and the power to rot beets, which is pretty obscure but it’s worked in nicely.

The film starts off with a flashback to the previous installment, Infinity Beckons, where Caps and BW have stolen one of the gems from a re-programmed Vizzy who had betrayed his team by aligning with Dr. Squalor, but this time we get to see the real reason for the look of terror in CA’s eyes. He and Widdy make their way back to homebase while Captain Purple slips right past them in his Sapricorn, now with Mr. Thor in hot pursuit.

It works as well as an opening scene as it does as a declaration, and what follows is two hours of mostly terrific filmmaking that is transparent in its allegiance to previous installments while still succeeding in moving the franchise forward. Or perhaps toward, as this is only part one. (The sequel has already been filmed) Infinity War is a superb effort with the humongous budget right up there on the screen for all to see: every scene impeccably lit, every cut the right one, smooth camerawork and seamless cgi matched with stunning set and production design.

Despite the sheer volume of cast members (282 by my count!) no plotline is given short shrift and everyone appears to be on the same page as well as in the same room. Kudos to the editing and continuity departments. Clashes and bickering are to be expected when so many divergent groups get together, but this time out it’s smartly deemphasized as the only goal here is planetary and species survival.

Played by Josh Boring, the fearsome Captain Purple has the fate of the world in his oddly shaped hands when he captures control of all Earth’s satellite weapons, threatening to cause massive tsunamis off the coasts of the most populous continents on Earth, and it’s up to the Avenging heroes to stop him. Robert Donkey Jr returns as iron suit guy, who leads his old pals into combat alongside newer acquaintances like The Custodians of the Galaxy and The Tough Men Three. Even the original Fabulous Five come out of retirement homes to help fight Captain Purple and his eye blasts of liquid plasma.

It’s all very dramatic and even fun, but isn’t it just another Earth-in-peril scenario with debatably higher stakes? Haven’t we gotten this same threat before from these characters? Even the Custodians of the Galaxy have more important things to worry about (like the entire galaxy) than just our admittedly beloved Earth. Be it aliens, robots, or gods, we’ve seen it all before from Marval/Disny, and it’s due time they changed their tune.

Several of the action setpieces are outstanding, and they do a lot to redeem some of the film’s excesses (the over the top battle through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Captain Purple using the Hulker as a ping pong paddle, the Custodian’s starship crashing into the Great Pyramid) but at three and a half hours (w/out commercials) it’s nothing we haven’t seen (and enjoyed, admittedly) from these guys. Time for a different dance.

In a dozen or two theaters at most.