Captain America: Civil War – ★★★★ (1/2)

SYNOPSIS: When innocent deaths occur during a mission, the Avengers find themselves in trouble with the government who decide to propose an anti-hero registration act. While Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is keen on the proposal, Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) is against it which causes rift between various members of the team. When his old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is accused of committing a terrorist attack in Vienna, Cap must try to help him which leads to further tension with Stark that threatens to tear the Avengers apart.

Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has now officially begun with the arrival of the pulsating Captain America: Civil War (or Avengers 2.5!), a film that has already fared better with audiences compared to DC Comic’s underwhelming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

What’s coincidental about the themes of both superhero outings is that they reflect on the mass destruction left behind by their characters. In Civil War, we have some of our heroes involved in a thrilling opening sequence that climaxes with the deaths of innocent people in a tower block. That particular incident, along with previous Avengers battles in New York, Washington and the fictional Sokovia, are prime examples of how the team have managed to do just as much harm to those they are trying to protect than their enemies have done.

The conflict of interest in the film comes from two of our favourite Avengers in Tony Stark and Steve Rogers who both have their own opinions about where they stand when the anti-hero registration act comes into play. It provides an interesting dilemma for the team which becomes even more tainted when Steve tries to protect his old friend Bucky Barnes. This eventually results in an emotionally-charged climax between the trio that is triggered by a shock revelation which leaves Tony seeking vengeance.

That fallout is one of several captivating sequences that keep us entertained throughout with the fights continuing to be crisply choreographed. But as expected, the most spectacular sequence takes place at a Berlin airport as the divided Avengers go head to head with the aid of new members in a landmark segment of adrenaline-filled action and witty humour that is just cinematic gold.

Focusing on our main characters, Chris Evans is once again effective in his role as Cap who continues to try and do things right even if it lands him in trouble with the law. Robert Downey Jr gives probably his most layered performance as Tony as he chooses to be more blunt about the Avengers’ responsibilities without having to show off his playboy lifestyle. The other familiar names like Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Sebastian Stan (Buck), Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) also contribute stellar appearances while the laughs come from Paul Rudd who makes a welcoming return as goofy superhero Scott Lang / Ant-Man.

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The introduction of Avengers newcomers Black Panther and more importantly, Spider-Man could have made the film feel bloated but thankfully their appearances are brilliantly utilised. Chadwick Boseman makes a compelling debut as the black costume-wearing prince whose story is well developed from beginning to end.

Peter Parker / Spiderman’s introduction is just as exceptional as Tony seeks the young man’s help and it’s a relief that we are spared ANOTHER origin story as was the case with Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s previous Spidey flicks. British youngster Tom Holland is a terrific addition as the awkward but intellectual teenager and will hopefully get another chance to shine properly when the new Spider-Man film is released in a couple of years time.

With Samuel L. Jackson choosing to sit this film out, William Hurt takes on the role of authority as he makes a welcoming return to the Marvel series as General Ross who was last seen in the underwhelming The Incredible Hulk (2008).

However it’s a pity that the likes of Martin Freeman and Marisa Tomei aren’t quite able to make a big enough impact in their respective roles as government operative Everett Ross and Peter Parker’s loyal Aunt May though the latter will have more to do when Spider-Man makes his cinematic return.

It’s also worth noting that the film does take a while to get going particularly when it comes to talkative scenes but once the action kicks in, you’ll be kept intrigued for the rest of the time.

Civil War is an exhilarating blockbuster that gives Marvel another cinematic win over DC Comics and does a fantastic job of keeping us entertained throughout with its decisive narrative and wonderful addition of new characters. Bravo to the Russo brothers!

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