Alex Garland, acclaimed director of Ex Machina and Annihilation, just premiered his latest feature Civil War at the SXSW festival. If the first reviews are any indication, fans can expect another stellar film from the director. Reviewers and fans who attended the festival took to X to share their first reactions to the film. (Also read: Joe Camp, writer and director of Benji films, dies at 84)

Kirsten Dunst in a still from Civil War.
Kirsten Dunst in a still from Civil War.

About Civil War

The official synopsis of Civil War, as per the festival site reads, “From filmmaker Alex Garland comes a journey across a dystopian future America, following a team of military-embedded journalists as they race against time to reach DC before rebel factions descend upon the White House.” It stars Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura, and Stephen McKinley Henderson among others.

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First reviews

Erik Davis of Fandango wrote, “Alex Garland’s #CivilWar is unlike anything I’ve ever watched. It’s a big, viscous, action-packed war picture from A24, which means it brings with it a richness & depth you don’t get anywhere else. Garland’s best work – flawless cinematography & gripping from start to finish.”

Sean O’Connell of CinemaBlend wrote, “Alex Garland’s Civil War is a remarkable, jaw-dropping, masterful achievement that BRILLIANTLY chooses war journalists as it’s entrance point. Fascinating from-the-front-lines study of the power and necessity of those who record society’s actions. A towering achievement!”

‘A true knockout’

“Um… Alex Garland’s Civil War is incredible. A true knockout. The movies I want to compare it to will force an overhype situation, so I’ll just leave it at that. One of the most engrossing movies I’ve seen in years. Goddamn,” shared another audience member. “Alex Garland’s CIVIL WAR: I’m speechless. A horrific tale. A journalism tale. An American tale, well-told,” felt another.

A reviewer also wrote, “Alex Garland’s CIVIL WAR is an absolute f***ing MASTERPIECE. A riveting, unflinching, visceral cautionary tale that’s scary as hell. Watching it, one can’t help but feel how close we are to this actually happening, making it a MUST SEE to stop it before it actually does. #SXSW”

Peri Nemiroff of Collider also gave a positive review and said, “#CivilWar is phenomenal. Alex Garland’s latest is a wholly consuming war movie. An epic but deeply intimate piece that uses the experience and motivations of a group of military-embedded journalists to highlight the deeply chilling reality of living in a world that never learns. The production value is through the roof. Between Rob Hardy’s highly immersive cinematography and the booming sound design, Civil War puts the viewer as firmly in the shoes of a war photographer as possible.”

She also praised the performances of the cast and said, “Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson make for an A+ lead ensemble. And the dynamic between Dunst and Spaeny’s characters is especially poignant. A brilliant microcosm of generational inspiration, and the challenge of figuring out how to carve a path forward, not one that spins in circles. #SXSW”

Civil War releases in theatres next month on April 12.

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