Team Cap joins the Wakandans in an epic battle. ©Marvel Studios

Ten years and 18 blockbuster movies have led to the arrival of the formidable Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his gauntlet of Infinity Gems  Stones. So now the burning question: Is all that lengthy build-up and emotional investment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe worth it?

The quick and non-spoilery answer is YAS! Infinity War is the MCU shake-up we’ve been primed for and dayum did Kevin Feige, the directors and the rest of the team deliver on that front! Fans and moviegoers who have been following this sprawling studio franchise will be shaken to the core.

In essence: Thanos hunts down the six Infinity Stones with the aim of wiping out half the universe’s population in a brutal and misguided attempt to bring balance to existence. The Avengers and their allies must join forces to defeat the mad Titan as the fate of all life lies in their hands.

 

Magic and science combine forces! ©Marvel Studios

Personally, I can’t bring myself to say that this is the best Avengers film or my favourite, for that matter. Because it has to juggle the immense roster of comic book icons, the movie struggles with pacing – there are several parts that are too rushed and a number of key characters are not afforded the kind of emphasis that they deserve.

But having said that, giving each and every beloved character substantial airtime is a massive challenge. While the balancing act is a little flawed, at least, it’s done with consideration and the final product is coherent and effective.

Narratively and visually, Marvel Studios is going all out with Infinity War. The sheer gravity of the situation alone makes this one of the more gripping MCU installments – it had me on the edge of my seat from the start to its earth-shattering conclusion. The emotional stakes are higher than ever before and the action, which involves numerous superhero group permutations, is absolutely breathtaking. If you thought the airport brawl in Captain America: Civil War (see our review) was thrilling, you will be blown away by the epic battles and the intricate coordination of characters in this one. I think I didn’t breathe throughout the entire final act (Wakanda forever!).

Space pals find one another! The Guardians of the Galaxy stumble upon Thor. ©Marvel Studios

All the actors performed their iconic roles admirably and brought on astounding moments that had the whole cinema hall erupting in cheers, especially the return of one Steve Rogers, Thor’s display of power and Spider-Man’s new suit. Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy are a dream team-up – the irreverent humour that made the Guardians movies and Ragnarok (see our review) such hits with audiences help to inject some much-needed laughs into an otherwise sobering movie. The familial drama between Thanos and his adopted daughter Gamora, for one, is particularly heartbreaking.

As the ultimate villain to round off Phase 3, I’m happy to report that Thanos is not simply a caricature of evil. While Erik Killmonger in Black Panther (see our review), and Loki are tough acts to follow, Thanos holds his own even if he’s not the best written antagonist of the MCU. Like his predecessors, he is also gifted with a grand, maybe even noble, agenda that becomes dark, brutal and warped.

I would love to delve deeper into the details with you but #ThanosDemandsMySilence. To end this non-spoilery review, I can only add that Infinity War is a pivotal point in the MCU journey and you’d be madder than Thanos to miss it!

PS: Do I still need to remind you to stay behind for the post-credit stinger?

If you don’t have the time to watch all the MCU movies to remind yourself of what happened in the lead up to Infinity War, the Washington Post has a very nifty interactive timeline of the MCU to help you revise.

Avengers: Infinity War is out in cinemas now.