Monday, 2 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War excels at portraying movement, each and every one of the Marvel characters has their own individual style of motion, matched to both their abilities and their personalities. It's a necessity in a film teeming with every conceivable variation of superhuman, but the implementation here goes beyond mere colour-coding or a succession of quick, featured spots. Anthony and Joe Russo use a thriller frame to inch the brand towards implosion before the next Avengers showcase, dressing the bones with a string of action sequences designed to provoke elation.

A heavily trailed airport clash is the exact opposite of the sluggish mediums we were promised, folding in Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and new kid Tom Holland as Spider-Man to achieve the kind of fluent, frenetic energy you'd expect from one of Joaquim Dos Santos' Justice League Unlimited episodes. Civil War's approach to computer generated filmmaking has more in common with animation than the usual Summer money shots. The effects don't demand awe, they communicate an impossible series of manoeuvres. We track individual elements as they scream in and away from each other. It's delightful. Antagonism rendered as gleefully inventive collisions.

Away from the server farms, Scarlett Johansson and her regular stunt double Heidi Moneymaker demand praise for their chimeric performance as Black Widow, the duo's efforts combining into the most credible physical presence in the entire film. Since Widow's powers barely stray into the fantastical, the action built around her is grounded in not just a believability but something recognisable, immediate and, most importantly, dangerous. Widow doesn't invincibly breeze through danger like the boys, she mantles it, her movements betraying both calculation and expertise. Her moments are fleeting, bracketed by extravagance, but the image of a red-headed missile weaving through a market in Nigeria lingers just as long as Civil War's franchise rehabilitating special effects.

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