Tl;dr: This is the best MCU movie ever. See it. Now.
The hype for the new Avengers: Infinity War has been enormous lately, and with good reason. This is a film that easily takes the crown from the first Avengers team-up film. Not only does the current film wrap up threads from a dozen movies that came before it, but it is also obvious that the producers, writers, and director learned the lessons from the weaknesses in the previous films in the series. I saw it in a Dolby theater, no 3-D, no IMAX. I like Dolby because I get assigned seating, and they have recliners.
Without spoiling anything that’s not int he trailers, the Big Bad of the MCU, the Mad Titan Thanos, is after all six Infinity Stones, with which he can wield ultimate power. The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other heroes come in at various points to stop him. That’s the plot in a nutshell.
But man, does that do a disservice to the whole of the film. There is such a delight in seeing characters that have hitherto never interacted playing off one another in new ways. Some pairings get along wonderfully, some grate on one another, and all bring up new facets of their characters. It’s a wonderful thing to behold.
I thought one of the lessons they finally learned is with the villains. Even though they were just Thanos’ minions, the fact that the Black Order were such a credible threat against the Avengers in turn made Thanos an even graver threat. And the fact that Thanos was given such a deep background and comprehensible motivation, and almost a pathos, catapulted him into the first-tier of MCU villains, up there with Loki and the Vulture. Thanos is truly the protagonist of this movie, and by spending so much time with him, they reveal many layers to what could have been a one-dimensional conqueror-for-the-sake-of-being-a-conqueror.
The film grabs you literally from the very first scene and never takes a rest. There aren’t many of the slow, character-building scenes that we see in other MCU films, and really at this point they’re not needed. There’s no time. Even for a two-hour twenty minute movie, there’s so much to do, and so many characters, that a five-minute conversation would absolutely kill the pacing of the film. And honestly, they manage to accomplish the same thing with ten-second quips and counter-quips that work very effectively to set the tone of the characters vis-a-vis one another.
Speaking of pacing, the film’s pacing is excellent. You’ll think there’s an hour left in the film when the end comes, and you’ll still be exhausted from the emotional roller-coaster. One minute you’ll laugh out loud at a joke, and then BOOM something dramatic or awful happens. It’s very well done on that score.
Just a few negatives are worth noting.
While in most places the CGI is flawless, there is one scene in particular near the end where one of the characters seems to be floating. It’s quite disconcerting, and inexcusably sloppy. But the biggest downside is that it might be setting up Avengers 4 to be a disappointment. Like the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Best of Both Worlds, it’s almost impossible to come up with a second part that feels worthy of the first.
We’ll know in 2019.
Overall, this is absolutely the best MCU movie in the series. The stakes are undeniably real, and everything feels very earned. They really knocked it out of the park, and I can’t wait to see where they take the series from here.