Film Review: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Rolls Emotions and Stakes into the Best Action Experience of the Summer

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This review of “Avengers: Infinity War” is spoiler FREE.  I promise.

The culmination of the last ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come to a head with their newest blockbuster “Avengers: Infinity War” from Anthony and Joe Russo, the duo that elevated the MCU with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” What has been assembled (pun intended) is a gargantuan assimilation of action, drama, and style.  The symbiosis of good versus evil is the pillar of its existence and measures up to a deeply felt extravaganza for the superhero senses.  In many aspects, this is a remarkable film and the best that the MCU has offered yet.

The film picks up after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “Black Panther.”  The Avengers and their allies are confronted with Thanos (played by Josh Brolin), who is working towards his plan of blitz and devastation threaten the very fabric of humanity.  The Avengers must be willing to sacrifice more than they know in an attempt to defeat him before he wipes out half of the universe.

With a superhero ensemble for the ages, the Russo Brothers, in partnership with scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, offer the first palpable sense of stakes and loss that the MCU has ever delivered.  In recognizing that this is the first of two films (this was initially titled “Avengers: Infinity War Part 1” before Marvel scrapped the two-part series), Marvel has an ample opportunity to renege on everything we witnessed and undoing their own marvelous execution.  We can only pray that those temptations are fought and overcome in the next installment.

You can stand up and praise so many of the actors, many of which are delivering their finest acting in these characters that we’ve seen yet.  There’s an active and tangible hypnosis to Josh Brolin‘s stunning work as Thanos, a performance that stands as his single best outing since “Inherent Vice.”  Thanos himself as relieved Loki and Killmonger from the “best MCU villain” mantles for all-time.  The tension, promise, and build up to what and who Thanos is, pays off in the best way.  While his “evil motivation” on the surface can feel sub-standard as a being that wants to destroy half the universe for “reasons,” his constant motivation towards that goal is what makes him downright electrifying as a character.

Avengers: Infinity War” is also presented with the first real opportunity for an MCU film to break out in a major way in the awards season. Sound and Visual Effects will be there for the picking, while a bombastic 2 hour and 40-minute runtime that feels fleeting will keep it in the hunt for an editing nomination. The viewer can also be taken by its camera work by Trent Opaloch who captures gorgeous and destructive shots.  I should also say that “Avatar” and/or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will likely be de-throned as the highest domestic grossing films of all-time.  The global ranking for “Avatar” and “Titanic” may even be in question.

“Avengers: Infinity War” is packed to the brim with excitement.  You may need a drink when its all finished.  You may even need a pack of tissues to get you through the experience but rest assured, it’s one of the grandest things you can endure this summer.

“Avengers: Infinity War” is distributed by Marvel Studios and opens in theaters on Thursday, April 26

GRADE: (★★★½)