Avengers: Infinity War may be the most anticipated film release of the decade (Star Wars: The Force Awakens aside). Having built up colossal expectations since the debut of Iron Man ten years ago, the threat of spoilers has been more perilous here than with most big mainstream releases (enough to spawn the popular #ThanosDemandsYourSilence hashtag) – but how much revelation is considered too much in a basic film review? With consideration for the spoiler-free absolutist and the spoiler-willing, we’ve provided a basic guide below to help determine if its safe to continue.

The Avengers: Infinity War
Spoiler Review Guide (No Spoilers)

Spoiler-Free for the Absolutist – a review where even the most arbitrary plot points are kept under wraps. To some, even a recommendation could be considered a severe social transgression.

Typically, such a review would look like this:

Spoiler-Free for the Mentally Well-Balanced – the reveal of very basic plot set-up that will only affect the purest of the pure (basically anyone who wouldn’t read this review anyway).

A film synopsis in such a review may look like this:

Still reeling from the fallout of Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok, the Avengers find themselves separated and scattered. When a cosmic threat places the universe in peril, the team must reunite with the addition of some new allies to stop it.

Mild to Medium Spoilers – such reviews normally include a more complete synopsis of the plot where much of the first act (and parts of the second) is fair game. Vague hints and implications are commonplace to rationally critique the film in context without tarnishing the experience. Also known as a typical movie review.

In this case, the synopsis may look like this:

[Mild Spoiler Warning]. When the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) threatens to decimate the universe by collecting all six Infinity Stones (the most powerful objects in existence which imbue a mastery over time, space, reality, power, thought, and life), the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers, and their associated sidekicks find themselves thrust together in a desperate attempt to stop him.

Heavy Spoilers – #ThanosDemandsYourSilence. The blatant reveal of twists, surprises, and ending material that will spur the unyielding wrath of a global behemoth (a.k.a. internet fandom) or, at the very least, an alien god of purple progeny and massive chin augmentation.

Such an example may look like–

After ten years of buildup with an eighteen-film back catalog, the entirety (mostly) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally comes to a head in Avengers: Infinity War. For those committed, Infinity War is an emotional, harrowing culmination; for the uninitiated, it will no doubt be a confusing experience (this isn’t an ideal first date film with a non-comic book movie fan to say the least).

Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the normal 3-course meal with dessert option. It’s a buffet of dishes taunting those with empty, willing stomachs to devour to completion – and when every patron is a food critic with predisposed expectations, universal satisfaction can be a daunting challenge. Any attempt at critiquing Infinity War without sullying the experience or providing 18 films worth of context is akin to gorging half of the buffet with the caveat that each dish is a mystery meal and conversation about the individual ingredients is negated. It’s a fulfilling enough experience, perhaps even masterful at times, but one that beckons a return trip to the restaurant for a comprehensive judgement.

With dozens of main characters at play, each with their individual storylines and baggage in the mix, it is a testament to the directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War) that they were able to achieve a level of cohesiveness without succumbing to the weight and pressure of all its varying elements. In retrospect, their experience on Civil War (the previous record-holder for the largest MCU team-up) provided the ideal audition for their work here.

Although some characters inevitably claim a larger portion the spotlight, such as fan-favorites Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans), the true star of the picture is Josh Brolin’s Thanos himself – easily the strongest (figuratively and literally) villain in the MCU to date. A rectification of Marvel’s most blatant weakness (with a few odd exceptions such as Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki), Thanos easily stands Titan-tall above them. There’s a mad, sobering will behind his objectives and the film pulls no punches when displaying the brutal ramifications of his destructive force.

As it stands, Avengers: Infinity War is a triumphant juggling act. Unlike Justice League where the idea of “dark” went as far as its screen composition, Infinity War derives its emotional weight from the perceived or tangible consequences that occur to its rich collection of characters. Sure, there’s levity when appropriate (much of it coming from the Guardians and Spider-Man) but it never undercuts the sincerity of its own stakes. Its pathos is earnest and the laughs are character-built. Best of all, it takes some legitimately surprising turns.

A paralyzed flying robot man, a one-armed rehabilitated American assassin, a faux blonde Russian killer, a 90-year-old super-soldier, a big green rage monster, a bald warrior woman, a winged US veteran, and a panther-fixated African king empowered by mutated plants. There’s a quarter of your cast right there.

It’s not faultless, however. Its juggling act, as impressive as it is, weaves a fractured first half. The constant jumping back-and-forth between its four main storylines can be overwhelming at times but they are accented by enough crowd-pleasing moments and action to offset all but the worst of such claims. Those expecting the longer-form character interactions that made up some of the most memorable scenes in the past two Avenger films (such as the party scene in Age of Ultron) may be disappointed to find that they are cut short here in lieu of exposition, time restraint, and, understandably, the chaos at hand.

Be that as it may, Avengers: Infinity War lives up to the definition as an event movie. Although its retrospective fate may lie within the future of the MCU, it delivers on its most scrutinized claim: it conquers expectations.

Note: there is an after-credit scene.