Review: Game of Thrones Season 6 – Part 1

So we’re half way (already!) through the new series of Game of Thrones, and boy has a lot happened. Following on from the rather slow-burning fifth season, series 6 has begun with positively intense and satisfying moments from all edges of the map. We’ve been given resurrections, revelations, reunited characters and allured to some promising resolutions. Series 6 is half way done, but it appears that there is still much to come…

You have been warned!

Castle Black:

The first five episodes of this series have emphasised the repercussions, and domino-effect, that has followed the grim betrayal of beloved Lord Commander Jon Snow at Castle Black. After that depressing cliffhanger ending of series five, many fans (including myself) have been endlessly speculating the possible outcomes and fate of Lord Snow. Maybe he warged into his direwolf Ghost? Maybe Kit’s fellow co-workers got fed up with him knowing nothing about anything, therefore Weiss and Benioff decided to roll with it. Or, you could have gone with the most popular theory of Melisandre using her Lord of Light powers to bring him back, because that’s exactly what happened. Easily debated as the most predictable ‘surprise’ in the show, it was still portrayed as a monumental scene in the show’s long history of memorable moments.

giphy.gif

Before our hero arises, other pivotal events unfold at Castle Betrayal. Ser Aliser Thorne has now deemed himself the successful Lord Commander, which is received with mixed feelings from the Night’s Watch. It’s obvious that there are those still loyal to Jon, which prompts anxiety amongst the group of rapists, murderers and bread thieves. Ser Davos, being one of the most genuine and honourable men in the show (not always a good trait in this world), realises quickly that Thorne is in no way fit to lead such men; and swiftly sides with the pretty petty posse defending Jon’s corpse. It’s as though they knew there was going to be a resurrection sequence later on. Another character who, following the epic slaughter of Stannis’ banner-men (or, what’s left of them), sides with the late Lord Commander, is Melisandre – the ‘Red Woman’. The band of about-to-also-be-murdered men (and woman), make one last attempt to provide justice for Jon’s murder by contacting the Wildings. Being in some form in-debt to Jon for saving them from Hardhome, the Wildings, led by Tormund, assault the castle and force the traitor Night’s Watch to surrender. In a hugely satisfying scene Thorne and Olly are taken away as prisoners, and we get to see the giant splat a rather foolish man against the castle’s wall. Awesome.

The castle is restored from traitorous hands, and now the issue of Jon’s fate is considered. Davos and Melisandre have never been on the best of terms, but in these episodes we are treated to some bonding between the two, which is instigated mostly by Davos’ “fuck it” attitude. Melisandre is revealed to be a very old lady, using some method of masking magic; with many claiming it’s the necklace she wears, however it could be the potions as we have seen Melisandre without the necklace before. Stressed out about her failed prophecies and wrinkly skin, Melisandre doubts her ability to do anything more than feel sorry for herself. But, with the last drop of hope she has for Jon being the ‘chosen one’, fighting at Winterfell within the her funky flames, she makes one last ditched effort to resurrect Jon Snow. All seems to fail, she finishes her spell with no signs of effect. The characters frustratingly, and solemnly, leave the room one by one. And when nobody but the audience and Ghost are left in the room, Jon breathes a heavy gasp and he returns.

Image 6

Jon Snow returns to the side of the living, realising that doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to live (we already found out the hard way – Ehem, Ned, Oberyn…), and possibly more detrimental to his sanity – there’s just darkness at the end of it all. Scary thoughts, including the fact that his prodigy, Olly stabbed him in the heart, which consequently leaves him a little traumatised. Jon is rightfully a bit shocked, but also a bit fragile following his sudden rebirth into the world. It is clear that Lord Commander isn’t a position of power he wants to stick with forever, and now that he has actually died, the line “only in death does duty end” really does apply here. Technically his watch has ended, but his final duty as Lord Commander, before passing the mantle to his mate Edd, is to execute the traitors who stabbed him. Weirdly for this scene there are only four men being hanged, when I’m certain there were at least a dozen, but moving on. Thorne, being the smug arse that he is justifies his actions and hopes that if he was to do it again, he’d make the same choice. Olly on the other hand, doesn’t say a word, just stares like a devil child at Jon, who is obviously upset about the whole thing. The men dangle for a bit as Jon looks on with a rather aggressive and pretty fed up look on his face. He hands over his position to Edd, claiming that his watch has officially ended.

giphy1.gif

Winterfell:

The Boltons still hold Winterfell after Stannis’ failed (and pretty dire) attempt to capture it. However, Sansa ‘key-to-the-North’ Stark has escaped with Theon (Reek). Roose scolds his son, Ramsay for the slip-up – but in the super calm voice that he always has. Ramsay is obviously annoyed that his mistress on the side was murdered, but also that he can’t legitimise his inheritance to House Bolton. Without Sansa’s baby, Ramsay can’t reinforce his power play within the North, which Roose reminds him consistently. The two Bolton men are abruptly interrupted by news of Roose’s Frey wife has given birth to a baby boy. This event pretty much seals Ramsay’s fate as a second-class son with no real power, but it also seals Roose’s fate as Ramsay actually betrays his father and murders his baby brother to claim House Bolton for himself. It’s a brutal sequence which emphasises how cruel and ‘wild’ he really is. Although we already knew this, I believe these actions are building up to his miserable demise in the second half of the season (we can only hope!).

GOT_602_ramsay_HBO.0.0.jpg

Matters only worsen when the Umbers (a House supposedly strongly loyal to the Starks – at least in the books) offer Ramsay a surprise gift. The gift being the long awaited (just messing) return of Rickon Stark and Wilding friend Osha. Also Shaggy Dog is supposedly killed, but who knows for certain, that could be a trick. Osha is cleaned up all nice for Ramsay’s pleasure, despite his distraction of peeling an apple, symbolic of his brutal flaying skills. Osha attempts to trick another men using sex, stretching for the peeling knife to end Ramsay’s reign of terror, only to fail and have a knife plunged into her throat. Turns out Ramsay already knew about her methods from Theon’s torture days, so he lives another day, sadly. The future of Ramsay’s storyline maintains a mystery, except the trailer’s allure to a large battle in the North of which he participates. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that Ramsay will be betrayed himself at some point, the other factions may consider him too reckless, which Roose referred to before being stabbed.

_73f9240c-f3fa-11e5-8497-551663313045.jpg

In other places, Sansa and Theon escape into the nearby woods, desperate to free themselves from Ramsay’s grasp. Thankfully being rescued by a clumsy Pod, and vicious Brienne, Sansa and Theon are freed from the Bolton terror. Brienne pledges an oath of loyalty to Sansa, becoming a member of her Queen’s Guard. Making the sensible choice of travelling to Castle Black hoping to find peace and protection from her half-brother Jon, the group embark on their journey. Theon decides it’s time to head back home to the Iron Islands however, which could be perceived as a cowardly move to avoid Jon’s revenge (for all the previous wrongdoings that silly Theon has done), but also a promising move in progressing the rather under-developed Greyjoy plot.

Upon arrival at Castle Black we witness the long-awaited reunion of the Stark family, which we’ve all been eagerly waiting for. It’s unlikely that all the Starks will reunite, not considering that most are actually dead, but the fact that Arya is in Essos feels like a long shot for anything meaningful soon. Jon and Sansa laugh and giggle over their childhoods, apologising for any past bullying and moving on. These scenes probably represent the most joyful moments of Game of Thrones we have seen in a long time. It only forebodes possible haunting deaths in the future, which I really, really hope don’t happen. Alas, this is Game of Thrones and nobody is safe. Happy times are usually abruptly interrupted with miserable ones, so we can only wait and see what happens in the next half of the season.

Sansa becomes very confident in these episodes, resembling the growing character we were promised at the end of series 4; before she was torn apart and raped by Ramsay. Here we have a strong leader, rallying Jon and the Wildings into reclaiming their ancestral home. It’s hugely promising for the upcoming battle, at first they were outnumbered, but the sudden appearance of Little Finger (Petyr Baelish) proves to be a potential lifeline in standing against the Bolton’s force. The battle is definitely one of the most anticipated events of this series, and it’s shaping up quite nicely.

2.gif

King’s Landing:

The Lannisters remain vigilant in their fragile position of power. Tommen, being a young boy in love, confronts the High Sparrow to free Margaery but instead succumbs to his old-man advice. Easily swayed by his charms, Tommen continues to present a weak King, who is continually prep-talked by his rather spiteful mother, Cersei. Jaime returns to King’s Landing with the corpse of Marcella, which intensifies anger and urges of revenge among the couple. Cersei and Jaime plot to overthrow the High Sparrow as an act of revenge for last seasons’ stripping and humiliation. Manipulating the Tyrells into storming the Sept to rescue Margaery as a mask for destroying the zealots and restoring total control to the royal. It seems that the Lannister family is desperate to reestablish themselves as a House to be reckoned with, however hints of civil war loom for the future…

As a side note, despite hating the guy in series 4 for being a total jerk to Oberyn – the Mountain is such a joy to watch on screen this series. Constantly scaring others and smashing people into pulps from the most effortless of motions, you can’t help but enjoy his presence.

3.gif

Bravos:

Arya continues her punishing training to become ‘no-one’. After losing her sight, she is forced to beg on the streets of Bravos until that really mean lady from the House of Black of White turns up and beats her silly. Bit cruel beating a blind beggar don’t you think? Nevertheless, Arya tries to fight back and eventually earns in place back in the House. She is given a second chance at completing her training, after taking Ser Meryn Trant’s life selfishly (he totally deserved it though). Continuously becoming better and better, Arya climbs the ladder to fully embodying no-one, and is rewarded back her eagle eyesight. Following more philosophical and repetitive questions, Arya is given her second real task to take a life for the Many Faced God. The woman she must kill is a supposedly talented actress (who HBO clearly dislike), who is performing a comedic play about the past events in Westeros. This includes some offensive portrayals of beloved Ned Stark and Sansa, who flashes the audience when the actor playing Tyrion rips her top. Arya doesn’t take this too kindly, but instead of messing everything up she plays it calm, and decides that she will carry out the task properly. The next few episodes will reveal if Arya really is up for the challenge, and will also deal with moral dilemmas clearly clouding her thoughts.

Meereen: 

After Dany’s rather elegant departure from the squad, Meereen is left under the control of advisor Tyrion, spider Varys, less charming advisor Missandei and rather bland, but great fighter Grey Worm. Tyrion, in his new position and locale, decides to suss out the best solutions to maintaining Dany’s rule without losing control of the population. A tough task with the pesky Sons of the Harpy rebelling throughout the city. Events worsen when Dany’s fleet is burned to a crisp, however Tyrion persists to maintain order. Unchaining the dragons from their pens in a satisfying scene which shows Tyrion’s charm works on dragons and not just simple folk. Reaching out to the Masters (and rulers) of previously liberated cities such as Astapor, Tyrion strikes a deal with the men which gives them seven whole years to abolish slavery and find other means to make a living. This decision is not received positively by Grey Worm or Missandei, however they support Tyrion’s actions whilst Dany isn’t there to rule – she’s too busy partying with the Dothraki!

Vaes Dothrak:

Daenerys Targaryen is captive to the Dothraki tribe, forced to walk all the way to Vaes Dothrak without a Drogon taxi in sight. Dothraki men mock her pale skin and white hair before handing her over to the new Khal Jhaqo. Jhaqo seems like a pretty average Khal, nowhere near as captivating as Drogo for sure, but at least he respects his predecessors as well as tradition. Dany reveals her origins and Jhaqo puts her in her place with other widow Khaleesis in the Dosh Khaleen – an old hut full of widows waiting for something interesting to happen. Being the last place the Mother of Dragons should be, Dany quickly puts together a plan before being ambushed by her ‘saviours’ Daario, and ultra-friend-zoned Jorah Mormont. The lads share some banter prior to sneaking into Vaes Dothrak to save their Queen; banter mostly consisting of Jorah being taunted by the fact that Daario has slept with Dany and he hasn’t. Jorah’s greyscale situation is also found out which possibly aids Daario’s sympathy for the old knight.

Khal Jhaqo and his fellow posse of smug men summon Dany to the Dosh Khaleen to receive judgement – whether she lives her days out with the others, executed, or sexually abused by the tribe. Dany has none of this, and unleashes a very powerful speech before tipping some torches over and burning the fools to ashes. In a scene that feels pretty samey to the end of series one, Dany arises from the flames, naked and worshiped by the thousands of Dothraki people. It’s a progressive move in Dany’s story-line, which has been rather dry for a while. Now she has two armies backing her, will she make a move for Westeros in the next episodes? We shall see.

https---blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com-uploads-card-image-90256-daenerys_targaryen_fire_game_of_thrones.png

Beyond the Wall:

Finally, we have the long-awaited return of Brandon Stark. So, how has he progressed after skiving season five? It turns out that the Three-Eyed-Raven has been taking Bran through flashback visions to explore and reveal very juicy bites of information. Hodor and Meera have been boring themselves living in a tree eating moss, whilst Bran gets to go on all the rides. Not very fair in my opinion. However, these flashbacks are fundamental to explaining the lore and upcoming events before Game of Thrones begins. We are given images of young Ned Stark at Winterfell with his brother Benjen, and sister Lyanna. Yes, thee famous Lyanna. The second vision hints towards an event hugely speculated by fans for ages – the Tower of Joy. The speculation is that the Tower of Joy holds the secret of Jon Snow’s true parentage, that being Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. This theory beckons the most logic in my mind, it justifies Ned’s protectiveness over Jon from his wife Caitlyn, who didn’t seem to know the truth. It would seem that Ned held the truth to himself to protect his only nephew from Robert Baratheon’s Targaryen hatred.

Bran is frequently pulled away from these visions to avoid getting consumed and unable to return back to reality. In his frustration to find out more, Bran decides to send himself into flashback mode on his own without the supervision of the Three-Eyed-Raven. He sees the undead army for the first time, as well as the Night King, who touches him. Before this incident it was believed that Bran was safe from the horrors of the visions, but the Night King actually acknowledges him and is able to grab him, leaving a frozen scar on his arm when he returns. The Three-Eyed-Raven is obviously annoyed with Bran’s ignorance, and is forced to complete his training before the Night King hunts them down. The funny thing is, it only takes the Night King five minutes to turn up knocking. The weird Children (tree people) attempt to fight back against the White Walkers, defending Bran and the others, but to no avail. The tree is swarmed, many Children die, the Three-Eyed-Raven is murdered by the Night King. As Bran, Meera and Hodor escape, Summer also sacrifices himself to the Wights to slow down the oncoming horde. The most emotional moment comes from Hodor though, who sacrifices himself holding back a door so that Meera and Bran (who’s still stuck in a vision) run off into the blizzard. The amazing and emotional revelation that Hodor (Willis) becomes Hodor from Meera calling out “hold the door” several times which echoes into Bran’s vision where young Willis stands. It’s powerful and emotional, and a great way to finish the first half of series six.

BranRaven

Another big reveal from this series is the creation of the White Walkers, which is explained to be The Children creating a form of defence against mankind. It’s interesting, but I would have preferred their origins being a mystery personally.

So that’s it, we’re half way there and it’s been great so far. So many satisfying movements forward in plot-lines that felt dry last season. I haven’t gone into complete detail about all characters, there’d just be too much to fit in one post. So this acts as a nice general summary of the events of the first five episodes of season six. Hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I will return to review the second half!

Alexander Jones

Review: DOOM (2016)

I survived the hellish onslaught on Mars, and kicked demon butts in Hell. Ripping and tearing, shooting and obliterating everything in my path. Rock music blasting in the background, it’s difficult not to enjoy the terror.

Not without its fair amount of challenge – DOOM succeeds in establishing itself as a classic arcade shooter with advancements across the board.

tumblr_inline_nq0gdyzoa31rlh52l_500
Suit up.

As a newbie to the DOOM scene, I don’t really have the faintest idea in regards to the plot. There’s demons and guns, right? Well I must admit, I am hooked on this installment. I can confirm that DOOM 4, dubbed neatly as DOOM (2016), is indeed a reboot of the series. Created by id Studios and published by Bethesda, DOOM is back with impressive graphical and gameplay enhancements.

Playing as the famous unnamed ‘Doomguy’ you awaken in a room, presumed to be your holding cell, surrounded by Possessed Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) personnel. Breaking free from your constraints you utilise a standard pistol, clearing the room of hellish zombie-like men, continuing to reunite with the very satisfyingly chunky Praetor Suit. From here you embark on your journey to rid the demon presence from Mars. The campaign stretches to around 12-15 hours, depending on how much of the beautiful (yet, disturbing) visuals you want to take in. Separated by chapters (essentially mission levels), you will transcend back and forth between the UAC facility on Mars and Hell, following your own demon-slaying desires and the instructions of influential individuals, the campaign is interesting enough alongside the great gameplay to solidify the intense and satisfying package.

Without spoiling the plot-line, there are a number of set-pieces that appear later down the road which surprised me. DOOM feels like the kind of game you’d expect to run into a boss stage at the end of each mission, this is not the case. Instead, about three quarters through the game you are met with what feels like an abundance of boss fights left, right and center. Definitely not a bad aspect; it actually exaggerated the intensity of the oncoming conclusion, which actually felt rather abrupt. With so many boss fights so close together I was actually expecting a little bit more after the sudden end-game cinematic. In no way does this really subtract from DOOM however, as I found the whole experience very satisfying all the same.

doom-2016_005

Moving on to the most important factor: the gameplay. If you previously read my DOOM: Open Beta Impressions then you’ll already have a general idea of how combat and movement works. It’s fast, fluid and gruesomely vivid to watch. Your movement is swift, complementing DOOM’s arcade origins, no sprint button here folks. It feels like an arena shooter, which I have little experience with, but if DOOM is anything to go by, I’m sold by it. Following from the lack of sprinting, there’s also a lack of reloading. Weapons have different shooting rates, but they never require manual reloading, this is after all reliving the arcade, arena feel. You accumulate ammunition, health and armour as pickups (old skool FTW).  It’s a nice change of pace from contemporary FPS games which are littered with regeneration.

Obviously one of the main additions that’s got everyone talking is the Glory Kills. Brutal, so brutal, but so fun. How do you spice up a notoriously bloody and violent franchise? You add even more blood and violence, and make it look amazing. Glory Kills add some fruitful new ways of finishing off those pesky Possessed soldiers but even more so for the big baddies. Chainsawing a staggered Baron of Hell is insane, and makes you feel rather omnipotent for a brief but rewarding moment. These impressively animated kills can feel like a nice breather before continuing to slaughter dozens more demons in one of the arena stages. After performing one of these animations you are given extra pickup items (health at first, armour with a Rune upgrade, and ammo with any chainsaw demise), and also a short speed boost that aids the seeking of your next victim.

That Rune upgrade I just mentioned refers to one of the extra segments within the campaign that the player can interact with. These Runes can be found throughout missions, often hidden behind doors and gates, and grant the player with special abilities after the completion of a relatively tough but simple combat trial. This area of gameplay was probably the most frustrating for me, but I’ll blame myself for being impatient with the trials. One petty complaint regarding this would be the amount of loading screens. I wish it was a little more seamless to repeat trials after failing them. They are very short and can be easily failed, but I lost my patience waiting for the trial to reload several times. I guess I should just get better at games, oops.

Doom-06.jpg

 As well as these Rune abilities, the player can acquire weapon mod upgrades using weapon upgrade points rewarded for completing mission challenges and also combat efficiency. Adding some more dimensions in your arsenal of wiping out the occupants of Hell. These mods can be mastered following specific challenges such as killing multiple enemies with one shot. Additionally to these upgrades, Doomguy’s Praetor Suit can also be upgraded using tokens found on the corpses of Elite soldiers throughout the campaign. These improvements aid survival via movement speed, lessening damage consumed by explosive barrels, enemies and yourself, and also enhancing your map by displaying collectible items. The final feature that strengthens your build is the consumption of Argent Energy. Findings a number of pods containing little balls of the Energy (I call it candy), your player can crush the container and utilise the Energy to put a single point into upgrading either Health, Armour or Ammo.

All these features work well to make daring situations a little easier without totally removing the need to think. No matter how buffed you are, there will always be a challenge. This can be found in the campaign with harder difficulties – try Ultra-Nightmare if you want to get annihilated with perma-death and extremely tough baddies, or in the multiplayer. The multiplayer feels much more fleshed-out from the Beta, adding three more demons, several new maps and game modes, and tonnes of character customisation. There’s plenty of content here for those seeking some cooperative slaying.

Not only are we given a solid traditional multiplayer arena experience, but we are also treated to Snapmap. Snapmap allows players to create, publish and play user-created missions, competitive maps and much more endless possibilities. It’s surprisingly in-depth, despite the simple and easy-to-use UI. I’m looking forward to investing more hours into this entirely under-appreciated (in my playthrough) segment of the game.

Overall DOOM (2016) proves to offer players dozens of hours of gory mayhem, be it online with others, or ripping through its tight and enjoyable campaign packed with content. Collectibles, upgrades, easter eggs and references, they’re all here. Suit up, rev that chainsaw, and prepare yourselves for the next DOOM installment (subtle spoiler there).

Alexander Jones

Review: Captain America: Civil War

[Warning: Spoilers below]

Team Iron Man represent. Also, Spider-Man. SPIDER-MAN.

I won’t judge you if you side with old man Cap, but seriously, Iron Man’s posse is much, MUCH cooler. I myself have a special place for Captain America, however, when worse comes to worst, I side with Iron Man. What can I say, I’m a sucker for tech. The hype behind this epic taster of a showdown, pre-supervillain finale with Thanos, established itself over years of Avenger assembling. I have to say, it definitely paid off. Following Batman v Superman’s abysmal concoction of a superhero film, Marvel continues to dominate the competition with this dramatic, explosive and emotional two hour hit.

Iron Man.gif
“Here’s Johnny!”

The film, being a Captain America title, spends a lot of time following his post-Age of Ultron avenging. Although, arguably this film could have easily been cut to ‘Civil War’ seeing how much screen time the rest of the crew actually get. Especially Iron Man, which sounds dumb, because it may seem obvious that in a film that drives on the conflict between two iconic heroes it would split the story between the two. But moving on, Captain America’s band of merry Avengers, consisting of Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Hawkeye, are on the hunt for hunky, merc-man Crossbones (A.K.A. Brock Rumlow from Winter Soldier). This action sequence demonstrates that our beloved heroes (excluding Hawkeye. Just kidding…) are still operating just as efficiently as ever, until Captain and Crossbones meet eye-to-eye in close combat, leading to Crossbones being backed into a corner, and summoning a live grenade from his holster. Before Cap is blown into lots of tiny little red giblets, Scarlet Witch uses the force to sustain the blast around Crossbones, and then in a panic, sends him flying into a office block, killing dozens of innocent civilians.

Crossbones.jpg

Firstly, let’s talk Crossbones. I assumed from the trailer that this guy was going to be the reason why the two battling factions would reunite, I was wrong. Before stepping into the cinema I thought about the logic (or stupidity) of ten plus superheroes taking on one mere mercenary hunk. A bit overkill wouldn’t you say? Yeah, exactly. I’m sure Hawkeye could take him out on his own, yet alone an Avenger army. The true villain Zemo (no, not Nemo’s cousin), instead plays the role of ‘man in the background who pulls strings and makes things happen’. Yeah not the best villain ever, but I’ll go into that later. Crossbones’ short piece of action only proves to reintroduce us to the cinematic action Marvel seem to have perfected. Despite being a character from a previous Captain America film, Crossbones only plays as a pawn in setting up the plot for Civil War. He is not developed at all, and quickly disposed of, which is darn shame seeing the potential to turn him into something more of a threat.

Tut

Following this exciting, but somewhat disappointing scene, the Avengers are counselled and made to feel guilty for all the innocent lives that have been taken from all previous films. This whole naughty-children treatment is a bit silly at first when you consider that the Avengers didn’t actually do anything intentionally that killed people. However the Vision makes a good statement, suggesting that the Avengers very existence triggers resistance and therefore conflict, but in a real concise and elegant way. The UN (out of all the country enforcers) decides that following the Crossbones incident, it’s time to knuckle down on these so called “vigilantes”. The Avengers are commanded to sign the Sokovia Accord. Sokovia being that made up Eastern European place Ultron found significant for some reason. It’s okay guys, there’s no real threat, crazy super-powered baddies only want to destroy imaginary Eastern civilisations, those racists. Too much freedom for the enhanced icons has supposedly led to more death and misery than justice. This revelation to the group creates a literal split down the table on whether or not to conform to the UN’s proposal of revealing identities as public knowledge, and also to restrict Avenger operations.

Iron Man is clearly facing some rough PTSD issues at the beginning of the film, which influences his decision on agreeing to sign the form. Tony decides that the Avengers indeed need to be “put in check” if they are to carry out missions with minimal casualties. Captain America on the other hand, believes that they have the right to be free in carrying out Avenging, essentially continuing the privatisation of the group. It’s interesting to see how the audience reacts to the two proposed sides. I’ve got a feeling most people like Iron Man’s sass and tech, but deep down, everyone kind of agrees with Captain America. It doesn’t matter though, these heroes won’t actually be in conflict forever right? …Right?

Civil War GIFCivil War 3

 The real, actual threat in this movie is Zemo. Zemo (some of you comic people will already know Zemo), is a manipulative man who’s mission is to tear the Avengers apart from the inside, turning themselves against each other, similar to what happened in Age of Ultron. This time, Zemo constructs a devious plan on placing a target on Bucky’s back as a scapegoat for the terrorist attack on the UN conference, which brands him as a criminal and an enemy of the government and the Avengers. Obviously Steve Rogers wants to help redeem his friend; which seems a difficult task for such a confused and easily mind-controlled man with a killer bionic arm. 

And so begins, the Civil War! Cap, Bucky and all the other folk who admire Steve, or just plain disagree with the UN’s proposal take arms against team Iron Man. Breakouts between couples such as the Vision and Scarlet Witch and Black Panther with Cap and Bucky, come from left, right and centre. I haven’t mentioned Black Panther yet. This cat was the second hero I was most looking forward to seeing, coming behind Spider-Man of course. He came across as a pretty determined man, seeking the revenge of his father, who died in the terrorist attack earlier. Despite this admirable persona, and pretty bad-ass flying kick moves, I’m not sure the Panther displayed his true potential. Not enough bite with that roar and all that. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t an interesting character, I’m now even more intrigued for his standalone film in the future, especially continuing from the after-credit reveal.

Spider Man

The other huge introduction in Civil War is of course Spider-Man. My childhood hero, back in his best performance yet. Tom Holland’s embodiment of a younger Spider-Man was on point, even  better than I had hoped. My younger brother insistently complained about youthful Peter Parker, but I stuck by it, and it’s great. His lack of experience in fights leads to some funny dialog between him and other Avengers, the scenes with Tony Stark are especially enjoyable. Proving to be the most agile and possibly quickest of the team, Spider-man suits Marvel’s cinematic action sequences perfectly. The CGI suit is noticeable, but doesn’t subtract from the character or film in any way. Like Black Panther, I’m very excited to see more Spidey screen time in Spider-Man Homecoming. Homecoming gets a little mention at the end of the film too, which claims that “Spider-Man will return”, followed by a short clip at the very end of the credits. It is interesting to see how the new and (definitely) improved Spidey is being promoted after his merging with Marvel Studios.

The significantly epic battle between our beloved heroes is, as promised, an amazing combination of witty remarks, hidden comic book powers, punchy flying kick combos and tight, spandex costumes. We’ve all seen the teasers in the trailers, and luckily, they don’t actually spoil any of the best bits. For example, Ant-Man unleashes his full power, becoming the giant we’ve all been waiting for. Paul Rudd lives and breathes his character so well, I’d liken him to Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool (an exceptional film if you haven’t seen it already). It’s a joy to witness the juxtaposition of the seriousness between Stark and Rogers and the comedy of Spidey and Ant-Man. Marvel’s sweetness very much stems from the ability to find humour throughout a film that may be tackling serious issues. This film does delve into some pretty deep revelations in regards to Tony Stark’s parents, which is quite shocking really. Thankfully, the comedy lightens up the overall mood, otherwise I could see this installment getting quite depressing.

Civil War 2

It turns out that after all the conflict between the two factions, and the quick change of heart from Tony which sees him join forces with Cap to deal with Zemo’s schemes, Bucky is revealed to be responsible for the death of Stark’s parents. Yikes, not cool. I understand that the Winter Soldier may have not been in complete control of his actions, but still, that’s a pretty painful thing to do. What follows is a crazy outburst from Iron Man, leading to a pretty emotional brawl between Rogers, Bucky and Stark. This entire fight proves to be just as gripping as the first, pulling on our ever-so-fragile heart strings. It’s clear that Bucky is an obstacle in Stark and Roger’s relationship, which is evidently still a bond that’s hard to break. The standoff is one of the most brutal fights ever seen in a Marvel film, excluding Deadpool and Netflix’s original series (also incredible).

I honestly believe this is the best film in the Avenger series. The story provokes interesting concepts and also brings out the political side of most characters (which is often ignored). Action scenes are great, and comparable to the big-budget scenes of the other Avenger films. I can’t recommend this installment enough, and I very much look forward to the following titles to come. Come at me Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!

Fight.gif

I haven’t gone into full spoiler territory with this review, and I know I haven’t explored every aspect that I could have. Sadly, I’m short on time and extremely tired from writing my dissertation on Game of Thrones, so this will have to do for now. I’d appreciate it if you’d like to share your thoughts or any advice if you’ve gotten this far with my piece. Also, a follow is always given a special place in my heart. Be that special person… Go on.

Alexander Jones