CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen Verdict: They are divided. We are conquered.
IT was only a month ago that DC Comics’ Batman vs Superman slugfest left the planet feeling they’d been forced to chug a concrete smoothie.
Now it is Marvel Entertainment’s turn to blend up a multi-hero grudge match, and man, does it go down so much better.
Like the best blockbusters of the modern era, CACW can be as deep or as meaningless as you want it to be.
There is such a precise balance struck here between brainy mythmaking and brawny earth-shaking that resistance is useless.
The movie wastes no time in stirring up a six-a-side scuffle between opposing Avengers-aligned squads coached by Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr).
The divide between the warring factions has more to do with a complex difference of opinion on global defence policy than anything as simple as pure spite.
So who is right and who is wrong? Well, as is the case with any ideological argument, it is not as straightforward as that.
What does matter is who will be filling the team sheets as Captain America and Iron Man get ready to get punchy. The Captain’s mob are heavy hitters indeed. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) are at their leader’s side from the start; and are later joined at just the right time by Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and a newly-thawed Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
A welcome wildcard recruit in the shape-changing, wise-cracking form of Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) completes an impressive line-up.
Meanwhile, in his guise as industrialist Tony Stark, Iron Man has little trouble bolstering his ranks with like-minded peers.
Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) are in there like a flash. Vision (Paul Bettany) takes his time, but gradually comes aboard.
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is brought into the fray on behalf of Team Iron Man at a vital juncture. This new character gets just enough origin-story business to justify his presence in the film, and he is not alone copping the short-and-sweet treatment from codirectors Anthony and Joe Russo.
A fresh teenage iteration of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is also swiftly escorted into the eye of the storm with surprisingly little fanfare. In fact, by way of introduction, all the Spidey-kid gets is a quick job interview with Tony Stark (which, it must be said, is the best-written scene in a well-scripted film).
Considering the notable storytelling heft maintained throughout the picture - as the Marvel Universe expands, so too must the dramatic force fields attracting and repelling its galaxy of stars – CACW briskly barrels through its 150 minutes with boredom kept well at bay.