New dystopian thriller from Ex Machina director lands great Rotten Tomatoes score and is called his Apocalypse Now

Kirsten Dunst in Civil War
(Image credit: A24)

Alex Garland’s new movie Civil War has landed some impressive first reviews after its premiere at SXSW Film Festival.

Set in a dystopian America trapped in a Civil War, the latest from Ex Machina and Men director Garland follows a group of military-embedded journalists. Operating in a race against time, they are trying to reach DC before rebel factions descend on the White House in the tense thriller. 

It features a star-studded cast including Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Jesse Plemons, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Nick Offerman. The new film is sitting at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes based on nine reviews. Although that’s likely to move around a bit as the film nears its release date. Check out some of the first reviews and reactions below.

Variety’s Peter Debruge says: "It’s the most upsetting dystopian vision yet from the sci-fi brain who killed off all of London for the zombie uprising depicted in 28 Days Later, and one that can’t be easily consumed as entertainment."

"With the precision and length of its violent battle sequences, it’s clear Civil War operates as a clarion call," adds The Hollywood Reporter’s Lovia Gyarkye.

Deadline’s Valerie Complex writes: "Ultimately, Civil War feels like a missed opportunity. The director’s vision of a fractured America, embroiled in conflict, holds the potential for introspection on our current societal divisions. However, the film’s execution, hampered by thin characterization, a lackluster narrative, and an overreliance on spectacle over substance, left me disengaged."

"Civil War offers a lot of food for thought on the surface, yet you’re never quite sure what you’re tasting or why, exactly," adds Rolling Stone's David Fear.

Fandango’s Erik Davis tweets: "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."

Discussing Film’s James Preston Poole has high praise, writing: "Not only is Civil War Alex Garland’s best film, it’s his Apocalypse Now. A staggering journey into the dark heart of a decaying nation that examines the role of journalism, desensitization to violence, and division. Genuinely speechless."

Collider’s Perri Nemiroff tweeted: "#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."

Civil War is released in theaters on April 12. For more upcoming movies, here’s our full list of 2024 movie release dates.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.