“Captain America: Civil War” (PG-13) 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)
Marvel’s “Avengers” series takes a new and exciting turn with “Captain America: Civil War,” a brilliant mix of action, emotion and effective storytelling that’s not undermined by the film’s thrilling visual effects. It’s the third film (and best) in the “Captain America” movie arc, and arguably one of the best in the entire “Avengers” saga.
Expertly directed by brother Joe and Anthony Russo, “Civil War” is grounded in real-world storytelling that infuses contemporary issues. Following the fallout over collateral damage by the superheroes during a mission in South Africa, the story finds Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) at odds over an international accord that would impose government oversight on the Avengers’ actions. Cap doesn’t think the team needs policing, while Iron Man signs the accord after a personal encounter with the mother of a victim of the Sokovia tragedy (in “Age of Ultron) that rocks his fragile psyche.
“Civil War” features the return of virtually every character from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (sans Thor and the Hulk), and introduces Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who are both terrific in their Disney Marvel debuts (Spidey is on loan from Sony). Those going into the film with a fear it will be overstuffed with superheroes will be happy to know that all the members of Team Cap and Team Iron Man only occupy the screen together for about a half-hour, but in an epic battle royale that easily ranks among the best scenes in film series.
Completely different in tone, “Civil War” is far and away better than “Batman v Superman,” showing off a sense of humor in the midst of the madness that the DC “Justice League” intro film sorely needed. It’s an invigorating shot of adrenaline the superhero genre sorely needed following the lukewarm reception to Marvel rival’s answer to the “Avengers” series.