Remember the days of Tony Stark at a press conference saying "I am Iron Man," or Nick Fury's "I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative," or the alien invasion of New York in the *first* Avengers movie? All that feels like so long ago now, even though the latter was only six years ago. And they were simpler days too.
If you thought the first Avengers or even Age of Ultron was ambitious, imagine that taken to the umpteenth degree. The first Avengers film put six heroes united together. At the time, that was incredibly ambitious and it felt amazing that they pulled it off so well. Now? Going into this movie and coming out of it, one looks back and it feels like child's play now.
Make no mistake, this is definitely one of the most ambitious movie events of all time. It takes almost every hero we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, and even some of their sidekicks, and brings them together for a film that has so many heroes in it... one probably has to wonder if doing such a project justice is even possible. Well, they do manage to pull that part off, more or less. Most of the heroes do get their fair share of screen time and their fair share of awesomeness.
Anyway, remember the Avengers mid-credits scene that introduced the big bad Thanos? Who showed up a couple more times across the scope of the series but never really did much? Well, he's finally here. And he's decided it's time to collect all the Infinity Stones and put them in his Infinity Gauntlet so he can basically shape the universe to his liking. And that basically means... time to unite *all* the Avengers. And that includes the Guardians of the Galaxy. Because they're gonna need everybody.
There are a lot of adjectives to describe this film--across multiple spectrums. In some ways, I still don't know how I really feel about it. This film is awesome, visceral, funny, brutal, shocking, exciting, and heartbreaking. And even a little thought-provoking on occasion, of all things. And while it suffers from some of the flaws of the franchise it's part of, it's also daring and bold in some ways that few other superhero movies in general have ever dared to be.
This is a film that starts the action basically immediately--and almost never stops. We get a couple of brief quiet scenes--namely a moment between Vision and Scarlet Witch--but beyond that, this film almost never lets up. Even if there's not necessarily an action set piece occurring, there's always some important conversation going on. Really, the only thing that happens that actually isn't that interesting (at least relatively) is a side quest of sorts with Thor, Rocket and Groot involving the Asgardian getting himself a new weapon with the help of a Peter Dinklage character made giant through the use of some goofy-looking CGI (which is strange, since most of the visual effects in the movie are incredible). Even that kind of pays off though, since the weapon that is created for Thor is pretty awesome.
And the action sequences are indeed incredible. One of the opening set pieces involving a fight between Stark, Strange, and Spider-Man vs Thanos' minions is quite exciting to watch. Another one that takes place on Thanos' former home-world is quite memorable too, in part due to the smartness of it. (By the way, those who were complaining about some of the choppy editing in Civil War, which was also directed by the Russo Brothers who directed this movie? That has been fixed.) There's even a massive battle near the end that brings to mind Lord of the Rings, of all things--and it's pretty awesome.
The biggest pleasant surprise of the movie is Thanos himself. Given what (little) we had seen of him so far in previous movies and the trailers, there was little reason to believe he was going to be much more than a "destroy the world/universe" villain--probably better than Justice League's Steppenwolf, but nothing to write home about. Turns out he might actually be the most interesting/complex villain (besides Loki) in the entire MCU so far--the wait for him has paid off big time. He's still obviously insane and evil, but there's an unexpected depth to him. It helps that Josh Brolin gives an excellent performance. (And that's another thing: this film has one of the biggest ensemble casts ever, and virtually every one of them gives their all in this, as you'd expect.)
And then there's the ending. Obviously, no spoilers shall be spoken here. But it's one with impact, and it's also quite abrupt--stuff happens, then about four minutes later it's over. See you in May 2019 for Part Two! It's also an ending that I have mixed feelings on. While on one hand I want to give the writers credit for going into territory that many may have thought they were too scared to go to, I also find it a tad annoying that it's clearly engineered to make you want to come back for more--the word "cliffhanger" definitely applies, and is arguably even an understatement. I also want to give credit for there being some cinematic brilliance of types you probably don't expect out of the genre, but then I also have to criticize it for happening all so fast.
Make no mistake: you are not prepared for this movie. You'll think you are, but you aren't. It's pretty much impossible to be prepared for the practically nonstop action, or for the more play-to-emotions side of the film. Of course, people who are not all that invested in the MCU at this point may just find the overwhelming spectacle too much and end up being bored when it's all said and done and hardly care about the transpired events. For everyone else, this film is a rare experience. Not necessarily a masterpiece, but definitely a rare experience. And even that is quite the achievement.