The wait for Avengers: Infinity War is over... Well, nearly. You guys have to wait until midnight tonight for the release of Marvel's colossal 19th movie, their biggest so far, but it's sure to be worth the wait.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll be aware this is the one that pits most of the primary Avengers against the world-levelling Thanos (Josh Brolin). The likes of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) have never faced a threat this grave, as Thanos' pursuit of the Infinity Stones plunges the entire universe into danger.
Yesterday, we brought you the first Twitter reactions and last night saw the official reviews embargo lifted. We're rounding up some spoiler-free highlights, starting with the following five-star rundown from Empire's Helen O'Hara.
"The film dances nimbly across the cosmos from one group to the next," she raves, "turning the screws on each group, shattering them and pulling them back together in new combinations. With all these different strands, you might expect to see the gears move to keep this intricate plot humming, as in Age Of Ultron and Civil War. But this time the Russos achieve the impossible. Not only did they bring all these disparate characters and stories together, but they made it look effortless."
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy praises Josh Brolin's performance as Thanos, saying he brings impassive menace and authority to the deadliest Marvel baddie so far: "Thanos has thoroughly thought through his ambition, as well as the moral and emotional toll it will take to achieve it, and Brolin's calm, considered reading of the character bestows this conquering beast with an unexpectedly resonant emotional dimension, making him much more than a thick stick figure of a supervillain."
Brian Truitt of USA Today says directors the Russo brothers do a sterling job of juggling all the disparate characters: "It’s kind of a miracle but every personality in this super-smorgasbord gets at least one meaningful character moment — nobody gets left behind in the storytelling. Downey and Cumberbatch are great playing off each other as quippy egotists, Hemsworth and Evans are just a blast to watch as original Avengers, and the Guardians especially are essential to the core narrative. The Russos do a monumental job of juggling everything, but at two hours and 40 minutes, there’s just a lot to process. (Also, if you’ve never seen a Marvel film, maybe don't start with this one.)"
Variety's Owen Gleiberman says the film avoids the Age of Ultron curse of the unwieldy superhero movie: "Infinity War is a brashly entertaining jamboree, structured to show off each hero or heroine and give them just enough to do, and to update their mythologies without making it all feel like homework."
HeyUGuys' Amanda Keats offers up another glowing five-star review: "It’s not just about the people on screen. Those behind the camera who were involved in putting this together understand the responsibility they carry on their shoulders. They get the importance of honouring the characters we’ve been travelling with this past decade and they take it seriously. They understand the build-up and the pay off that’s needed and the end result does not disappoint."
Uproxx writer Mike Ryan lauds it as "the dorkiest movie ever made", adding: "Avengers: Infinity War feels like a really special event. There are at least ten moments in this movie that made me want to just yell out, 'yeah!,' at the screen. If you are a human being who likes comic books or comic book movies, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the spectacle of it all."
On the flipside, just as many critics point out that with so many characters vying for attention, the movie feels overstuffed. This includes Adam Graham of The Detroit News who writes: "And that’s the problem with Avengers: Infinity War: it’s too much. Too many characters, too much action, too much everything. It’s a superhero surplus with too many heroes and not enough screen. It’s Infinity overload."
The point is also made that Infinity War, originally intended as the first half of a wider story, maybe won't be a fulfilling experience until next year's Avengers 4 puts it in wider context. Alfonso Duralde of The Wrap makes this point: "There won’t be a whole one until the sequel comes out. Anything we say now is still contingent on how the Russos and the writers wrap everything up next time... If you’re a viewer who binges TV dramas because you can’t wait a week to find out what happens, the implied 'to be continued' at the end of Infinity War may drive you batty. But if you’ve been solidly along for the Marvel ride up to this point, you’ll enjoy this leg of the journey even if it hasn’t yet reached the terminal."
Well those are some selected critical responses, and you know what to do next. Click here to book your tickets for Avengers: Infinity War and, if you're attending our midnight screenings tonight, tweet us your immediate responses @Cineworld.