Alex Casey is a staff writer for New Zealand pop culture-obsessed website The Spinoff and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

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The Avengers are back brighter than ever — squabbling, kicking ass and cracking jokes.
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in Captain America: Civil War.
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in Captain America: Civil War.

Is it sad that when I see The Avengers cast assemble on the big screen my heart swells with the same feeling I had when I saw my friends and family together at my 21st birthday?

The Avengers assemble far more often and with far more drama than any group of friends/colleagues/families I know in real life, and I'm always happy to see the gang back together. Just as with The Real Housewives, there's bound to be a good fight and some killer lines.

Their latest reunion comes in Captain America: Civil War, centred on Steve "Captain America" Rogers (Chris Evans) and his loyalty to his old corrupt mate the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

Under the direction of Anthony and Joe Russo, the physical high jinks come thick and fast after yet another terror attack puts civilians at risk.

The Avengers are on a mission to protect the innocent, but end up being blamed for the collateral damage to civilians.

They are forced by the United Nations to sign themselves over to be babysat by bureaucrats who say they can't be trusted, have too many gadgets and are far too trigger happy.

Should they succumb to the suits? Or should they go rogue and become wanted criminals?

The group is ideologically divided, which manifests itself in snippy philosophical conversations and enormous fight scenes between some of the most famous superheroes of the big screen.

But these big-billing Iron Man versus Captain America battles are no gimmick, and are handled with all the excitement, tension and spectacle needed to deliver satisfying blockbuster action.

After the head-in-a-blender nightmare that was Batman v Superman, everything in Civil War feels infinitely crisper, sharper and handled with far more care.

Marvel fans will delight at the return of old favourites, from the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to War Machine (Don Cheadle) and some new, revived characters that help make the universe all the richer.

Make no mistake, this is a movie for the fans. If you are coming into the story with no prior knowledge, the film doesn't make any attempt to hold your hand. Forget being spoon-fed a whole lot of backstory. Instead expect established relationships developed from the previous films.

You might have to do some homework, but the experience will be all the better for it.

From nods to coming films and barbs at the past, it's refreshing to see a film franchise so confident in its audience, and so assured in its characters.

Despite its air of whimsy, Civil War never leaves much time between bone-rattling punching and explosions.

As nimble as Captain America himself, the film flits between earnest conversations and physical comedy, the awkwardness of the new recruits and the slickness of the old hats.
It even makes a joke of itself.

Directly responding to past criticisms of the Black Widow's lack of character development, she is pointedly given centre stage in the first solo fight scene. It's overblown, kickass and possibly the geekiest in-joke of all time.

Captain America: Civil War turns The Avengers inside out, forcing conflict between the characters while managing to stage big action set pieces and even bigger jokes.

No one makes popcorn blockbusters like Marvel right now. Head along. And be sure to stay to the end credits.

Rated: M
Showing Now

- Spy.co.nz

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