A war between Avengers may be bad news for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it's great for action fans
When an unfortunate accident during an Avengers mission in Nigeria leaves innocent people dead, the governments of the world decide that it is time to act. The United Nations proposes the Sokovia Accords as a way of providing political oversight for the team and removing its autonomy.
Still wracked with guilt over the Ultron incident, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) quickly adds his support for the plan. However, following his earlier dealings with the World Security Council, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is unswerving in his refusal to sign up.
Things go from bad to worse when 'Bucky' Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), is implicated in a terrorist attack. Determined to either prove his old chum's innocence, or at least bring him in alive, Cap now finds himself on the wrong side of the law. With the remaining Avengers divided over their reaction to the Sokovia Accords and their loyalties to Cap and Iron Man, the stage is set for a showdown between former friends…
Marvel Studio's commitment to long-form storytelling across its so-called 'Cinematic Universe' pays off fantastically well with this third Captain America film. The emotional core of the story picks up from the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and deals with the hero's attempts to save his friend, yet the film also serves as an effortless culmination of story and character threads that have built across the entire series of films.
The reason that the schism between Captain America and Iron Man hits so hard on an emotional level is precisely because we've followed these characters as they developed across their various cinematic outings. As such, we understand exactly where both are coming from and feel the pain that comes from their division.
This being a superhero film, the rift between Cap and Iron Man doesn't just play out as a political debate. As much as the story may warn about collateral damage, it also serves up plenty of its own, with the central fight sequence between two teams of Avengers delivering some of the most inventive and awe-inspiring action ever seen. This truly is a comic book come to life.
Even more amazing is the way that Captain America: Civil War can juggle all of this (and the sizeable roster of characters it inherits), while successfully introducing two brand-new heroes. The arrival of T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) feels like a natural expansion of the MCU. More importantly, it drives the narrative forward rather than stopping it dead in its tracks, something that certainly afflicted Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when DC's expanding roster of heroes were awkwardly shoehorned into the story.
It's therefore easy to place Captain America: Civil War within the upper echelon of superhero films. Like other top-tier efforts The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this is a popcorn movie that understands the importance of balancing boisterous spectacle with thought-provoking storytelling. It is, basically, Marvel-ous.
Picture: This stereoscopic Blu-ray release houses its 2D and 3D presentations on separate platters. Unsurprisingly, the 'flat' version delivers everything you'd expect from a big-budget digitally-shot title, including an abundance of fine details, bold colour saturation (check out Spidey's red and blue outfit) and satisfyingly deep blacks.
Despite being converted in post-production, the 3D version is one of the best such efforts Marvel has produced to date. Depth is appreciable throughout and there are even a few moments of negative parallax where limbs and weapons exceed the confines of the screen. There's a slight reduction in brightness and colour punch, but it's all worth it for the 15-minute airport brawl, which was shot using IMAX's new digital camera and in the 3D version opens up from 2.39:1 framing to 1.85:1 for an even more engrossing visual treat.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: The lack of Atmos mixes on Marvel Blu-rays still disappoints, but this disc's DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack doesn't. Packed with sonic subtleties, fluid channel transitions and capable of conjuring up seismic levels of LFE, Captain America: Civil War's soundtrack is outstanding from start to finish.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: This sticks to the usual pattern of extras for a Marvel/Disney Blu-ray, although does a little better than most by boasting a considerably longer Making of… documentary (split into two parts). Also included are a chat-track from the filmmakers, two short character featurettes, four deleted/extended scenes, a gag reel and a preview of the next MCU movie, Doctor Strange.
Extras rating: 3.5/5
We say: This superior superhero film hits Blu-ray with stunning visuals, explosive audio and great extras.
Captain America: Civil War 3D, Walt Disney, All-region BD, £28
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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