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The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

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The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

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Civil War shows that movies need more than just shock value


Civil War, directed by Alex Garland and produced by entertainment company A24, came out Apr. 12 to mixed reviews. The story follows a group of journalists on a road trip to interview and take a photo of the president during a second Civil War. 

The movie is rated R and is horrifically brutal, like most war movies. I would never in good faith recommend the movie for this reason. The movie has gore in about every scene, it leaves nothing to the imagination. If you plan to watch the movie, go in with a general understanding of what the movie is about because that was my fatal flaw, and I was left appalled.

On another note, something I think the movie did well was really encapsulating the feeling of being an unbiased journalist. You don’t really know why the USA is at war; all you know is the president is in his third term, Texas and California want to leave the US, and they are at war. A scene I think shows how little the journalists are meant to be involved with the actual conflict was when war photojournalist Lee Smith, played by American actress Kirsten Dunst, said, “We don’t ask questions. We take pictures so others can ask questions.” This line is a good representation in my mind of what it is like to write heavier stories. 

Lee is a good representation of what it is like to be a journalist. She is a war photographer so her job is to capture moments without editorializing. I think it also adds to the characterization of Lee showing how her work has hardened her. This is later hammered in with a montage of her taking pictures of the brutality of war but not being able to do anything other than stand behind a camera.

The thing that caught my eye the most was the special effects. The gore looked so incredibly realistic that it was upsetting. There is a scene where two men are strung up by their arms and brutally battered. This image is burned into my mind. The huge team of makeup artists did an incredible job, and they should be recognized for their work. 

I have to admit I found more cons in the movie than pros. The movie does this thing that always bothers me: they add characters just to kill them. It feels like the director wants us to have some connection to the characters, but it’s hard to pity a character you never knew. The only reason I felt bad for the character’s death is because of the unfair circumstances under which it occurred. 

The movie was often brutal for the sake of being brutal. In every scene they grasped at straws to have that sweet, sweet shock value. The movie is a constant pattern of soft pleasant scenes then loud gunfire to scare you over and over again.

In the end, I think Civil War is not worth spending money to watch. I’d recommend waiting till it’s on some streaming service. It’s the kind of movie where I don’t regret watching it but I would never watch it again willingly. Because of this I only give it a 4/10. 

I really would advise against watching this movie because of all the gore, but if you are the kind of person who isn’t bothered by gore, I’d just say watch at your own risk. If you want to see a good war movie that isn’t a cheap money grab, I recommend All Quiet on the Western Front, Jojo Rabbit and Saving Private Ryan.  

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Maxson Peters, Managing Editor/Business Manager

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