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Captain America: Civil War - Spoiler-free movie review

Nathan Strum

1,551 views

I'm just about to head off for a late-night show at the ArcLight. I'll be posting a review either much later tonight, or in all likelihood, tomorrow.

I hadn't quite planned on going to see the movie this soon, but it's getting really difficult to avoid spoilers.

I've really been looking forward to this movie, since Winter Soldier was so good. But on the other hand, Age of Ultron was quite a disappointment, so I have no idea how this will turn out.

Except, of course, that it will be much better than Batman v Superman.

They'd have to work pretty hard for it not to be.

Stay tuned!

Or tune back in later... since, you know, three hours is a long time to sit there and stare at an empty blog post.

_________________________________________


(One good night's sleep and breakfast later...)

Okay, now that's how you make a superhero movie.

First of all, Captain America: Civil War was fun to watch. There are quite a few "Wow!" moments in the film - fantastic action sequences: fights, chases, surprises, new characters, characters' abilities being showcased in new ways, new revelations, etc. The action sequences in this film take superhero movies to a new level, and the Russo brothers have a knack for bringing them to the screen in a way that's both fantastic and believable. I was watching Avengers: Age of Ultron again the other night, and had a hard time following what was going on in many of the action sequences. It often felt disjointed and fake (which, of course it is). But the Russo's manage to keep the action grounded, more accessible. More personal.

Second, it's a compelling film. These are well-liked, established characters, and it's tough to watch them in serious conflict with each other. Sure - there's been arguing amongst the team in the two Avengers movies, but what happens in this movie is genuinely divisive, and something that the filmmakers did a good job of showing both sides of. The sides that each team member comes down on makes sense for their character arcs, especially for those who are conflicted about it. There are shades of gray - not always a clear-cut answer.

In essence, the underlying cause behind the plot is very much like Batman v Superman: what do you do about the collateral damage caused by superhero conflicts? However, the tone of each film couldn't be more different. In BvS, the whole film was dark, moody, angry, and neither of the two main characters had any redeeming or likable qualities left to them. I didn't care about their conflict, who won or lost, or what the consequences were.

However, in CA:CW, despite the huge number of characters in the movie, I found something to care about (or at least root for) in all of them. Now, part of this is due to how well the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters are already established. However, there are new characters introduced in this film who have relatively little screen time, yet manage to be compelling anyway. And they're all very different characters, with different personalities, different perspectives, and different stakes in the conflict. This is well-written stuff, and unlike Avengers: Age of Ultron, it doesn't feel overly-busy. Yes, there's a lot going on, and some characters have less to do here than others, but this is primarily a film about Captain America, and he carries the film. The characters driving the story get the most screen time, and the rest are nicely balanced amongst the supporting cast, each of which have their own moments to shine (and some quite spectacularly). I never felt that anyone got unduly short-changed, and we got some tastes of the things we can look forward to in future movies.

Now... is CA:CW a perfect movie? Well, no. I felt the main villain behind the whole thing was a bit of a let-down. I thought the basic idea behind what he was doing worked, and it also tied together some long-existing threads in the MCU, but he wasn't developed enough to be interesting (Marvel just can't seem to come up with another Loki). Also, when the reason the heroes were fighting each other changed, I'm not sure I bought 100% into the ferocity behind it. It seemed a bit out-of-character at that point in the movie. But it was still compelling to watch - you worry about these characters. Not just for what may happen to them, but what they may end up doing. What lines will they cross?

Like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this is primarily Cap's movie, and Chris Evans does a great job in the role again. His character is much better developed in his films than in either of the Avengers movies. He shines in the action sequences, and his relationships with others and his own convictions are at the heart of this movie. Because of all of the other characters at play here, it would be almost fair to call this movie The Avengers 3, except that if it was, the emphasis wouldn't have been so much on his story.

Now, I have to go slightly off the spoiler-free tracks for just a moment, and mention two things:

First - Spider-Man. Marvel totally nailed it. Welcome home, Spidey! Tom Holland is so young, I was surprised when I first saw him as Peter Parker. I was so used to 30-something actors playing the role, it caught me off guard. But Spider-Man started out as a high school student. This is a return to his original roots, and Holland captures that element of youth, excitement, enthusiasm and humor so well. And yet, even in his limited screen time as Peter Parker, you can see some of the tragedy that drives him. He never actually says, "With great power comes great responsibility"... but there was a point where that phrase was underlying everything he was saying. And as for Spider-Man's time in the movie? It was awesome! Was he integral to the plot? Not really, but it's such a huge, important step to have him in the larger MCU, that just seeing the character and getting the sense that Marvel is going to treat him right was more than worth having him in the film.

Second - The Black Panther. Considering how much is going on in this film, I'm impressed how much they were able to do with this character. He helps drive this movie, and he's yet another compelling Marvel character. And he's tremendous fun to watch in the fight scenes, along with Cap and Bucky. Three not-quite-but-almost superhuman characters going at it? It doesn't get much better than that. Take notes, Batfleck.



I had a ton of fun watching this movie. There are a lot of great action/fight/chase moments in this movie, and the airport fight is probably the single coolest sequence in any superhero movie to date. It checked all the right boxes. Yet the movie wasn't without a serious tone, driving the story and characters along. But it was not dark. It was not a moody, hopeless, dystopian world, full of perpetually depressed, angry, mopey jerks. There was certainly distrust, hurt, anger, betrayal, and anguish, but that's not who the characters are at their core. They were torn and conflicted. Always wanting to do the right thing, but struggling at times to know what that was. Trying to rise above it. To still be heroes.

Captain America: Civil War is what a comic book movie should be. It's exciting and fun to watch. It has characters you care about. They should be in genuine peril - and sometimes that means more than just physically being in jeopardy. It means what choices do they make? How do they change? What happens next? This movie has all of that. It changes the Marvel Cinematic Universe again. Not just for the sake of change, but to add depth to it. The real world is a complex place, and this movie reflects that complexity. And it sets up the next Marvel movies very nicely indeed.

(And mercifully, for once, not a single mention of the Infinity Stones.)


Go check it out. On the big screen. With a whole bunch of people.

Captain America: Civil War gets a tough-to-score 8.9/10.

(I think Winter Soldier was a better Captain America movie, because it was so much more his story, much like the first Iron Man movie was the best story about Tony Stark. But as a superhero movie, this is among the best of the best. Huge action set pieces, but overall on a more personal level than either of the Avengers films. And ultimately, personal stakes are much more compelling than dropping a giant rock out of the sky.)



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Does it borrow much from the comic book event of the same name?
That had something like a dozen core comics and 80 tie ins to the story across who knows how many different comic series.
It's pretty difficult to measure up to something like that, but the core story would be good.

I'm guessing the main incident was changed as the comic story line might not have played well with audiences.
And I'm guessing a couple significant heroes from the comic are missing.

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I haven't read the comics version (I stopped reading comics around '91). But from what I have read, it's loosely based on the same basic premise, but on a much smaller scale (this is just one movie, and the MCU isn't as massive or long-standing as the comic universe). There's an article at IGN describing the differences (contains spoilers).

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I disliked the overly long comics version, and didn't read much of it. But I just got back from CA3: CW , yet another great Marvel film which is a smaller MCU version of that story. I agree with your comments about the villain, Zemo. He had an intelligent and effective plan, but he wasn't as villainous as I had expected. shades of grey apply to his motivations and actions.

 

The film was a lot of fun. Loved Spider-Man, loved T'Challa. Was VERY surprised at the length & scenes of the airport battle.

 

Overall, on first watch, I loved Winter Soldier a little more than this. Not sure why. Perhaps I'm just tired tonight.

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There was kind of a mention of the infinity stones. Vision mentions the one on his forehead and he dont know what it is.

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There was kind of a mention of the infinity stones. Vision mentions the one on his forehead and he dont know what it is.

 

True - forgot about that. But it didn't get the kind of attention the previous films have been giving them.

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I also rate Winter Soldier slightly higher, but not much. Spiderman didn't add much, but he didn't ruin anything either, which is already an achievement after the "Amazing" disasters. I thought they also could've done without Wanda and Vision, as their only job seemingly was neutralizing each other and Vision was about the only one who's motivations I didn't follow, as if he just had to go with Tony only for making even numbers on both teams. What I did love were all of Hawkeyes scenes as well as Ant-Mans. And Caps signature line returning from the first movie. What is it in English? Something like "I can do this all day long?" :)

 

BTW: Looking forward to see the better Quicksilver in action again in less than two weeks :D

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Caps signature line returning from the first movie. What is it in English? Something like "I can do this all day long?" :)

 

BTW: Looking forward to see the better Quicksilver in action again in less than two weeks :D

 

Very close - Cap says, "I can do this all day".

 

I'm interested in seeing X-Men Apocalypse. I think Fox has done pretty well with the last few X-Men movies. It'll be interesting to see where it goes, now that it's effectively been rebooted. I have no problems with them pretending X-Men: The Last Stand never happened. ;)

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Wow... CA:CW is already over $678 million worldwide.

 

Crazy.

 

Zootopia is well on its way to $1 billion.

 

I still remember when Star Wars broke Jaws' record, and any film reaching $100 million was considered a massive hit. Now, it would be considered a flop.

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Personally, I think the movie could have done with a few less characters on the battlefield. Neither Spidey nor Ant Man had enough character development to be part of the battle. Even Wanda & Clint didn't really have the emotional weight of the others. This movie was really about Tony's guilt and Steve's convictions.

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I'm interested in seeing X-Men Apocalypse. I think Fox has done pretty well with the last few X-Men movies. It'll be interesting to see where it goes, now that it's effectively been rebooted. I have no problems with them pretending X-Men: The Last Stand never happened. ;)

 

I'm only worried about Jean "Sansa" Grey... but she alone can't ruin the entire movie, can she? :lolblue:

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When the location changed with the label "Queens", did anybody else start to get a little excited? :)

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They assembled a pretty young cast now, so it seemingly would make more sense to make smaller steps at some point. I was quite puzzled that with Days of Future Past they already killed half of the lineup of First Class (incl. Emma Frost! *gasp*). Besides the 3 big ones (Magneto, Xavier & Mystique) only Beast and Havoc made that jump. On the other hand I assumed Apocalypse would finish the 2nd trilogy, so they might launch an entirely new trilogy next just as well... :)

 

Personally I'd prefer the next trilogy to focus on Rogue and Gambit for a change. And Cable of course - if he really gets introduced in Deadpool 2 ;)

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I think they'll make shorter jumps once they get caught up. It's difficult to make period movies (getting all of the details right), and these are still laying out the history of who the team will be. Once that's settled, they'll probably stop jumping forward. The continuity doesn't really matter anyway, it's more about finding interesting periods in history for them to cross paths with: the Cuban missile crisis, Nixon, and... uh... Flock of Seagulls, I guess. I have no idea for this film. But there had better be some cheesy 80's synth pop in it.

 

As for killing half the lineup - there's no such thing as "dead" in comic books. Or comic book movies. With time travel, alternate realities, or just bad writing, they'll do whatever they want with characters to bring them back if they need to.

 

I'd stopped reading X-Men before Gambit or Cable showed up, but I agree they need to do Rogue right. I thought they really got her wrong in the original X-Men movies - I just never bought Anna Paquin in the role. Plus, there needs to be that whole conflict with her and Ms. Marvel some super-powered character Fox can use, whom she permanently steals powers and memories from. That split personality aspect was a key part of her character. Plus, she needs to be able to fly and throw cars at people.

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Flock of Seagulls, I guess. I have no idea for this film. But there had better be some cheesy 80's synth pop in it.

 

I'd stopped reading X-Men before Gambit or Cable showed up, but I agree they need to do Rogue right. I thought they really got her wrong in the original X-Men movies - I just never bought Anna Paquin in the role. Plus, there needs to be that whole conflict with her and Ms. Marvel some super-powered character Fox can use, whom she permanently steals powers and memories from. That split personality aspect was a key part of her character. Plus, she needs to be able to fly and throw cars at people.

 

So apparently you still didn't see Deadpool? They went with Wham! instead of Flock of Seagulls :lolblue:

For a wild guess, I could imagine them doing 'Onslaught' after 'Apocalypse'.

 

I assume there's a couple of people in for another 'Metroid's a girl?!' moment when the first 'Captain Marvel' trailer shows up :D

(I always prefered 'Binary' for her anyway - such a cool name! ;) )

 

Rogue is one of the most amazing X-Mens in print. Mystique probably costs less CGI so I assume that's why the movies rather put her into the focus.

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Still haven't seen Deadpool. I'll rent it on iTunes.

 

I think the reason they use Mystique is simply because of the plot possibilities. Since she can turn into anyone, there are a lot more things to do with her character.

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Enjoyed it. Was taken off guard by the deaging of Tony - at first I wondered who they got to play young Tony so looked at IMDB and couldn't find a name, then found an article about it. Much better than what we saw in Rogue One, which was released later in 2016 than this movie.

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Enjoyed it. Was taken off guard by the deaging of Tony - at first I wondered who they got to play young Tony so looked at IMDB and couldn't find a name, then found an article about it. Much better than what we saw in Rogue One, which was released later in 2016 than this movie.

I'd like to see a video breaking down how they de-aged him. It was much less creepy than most such attempts.

 

I think it worked better because Downey isn't that far off from his younger self. Same with Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The less manipulation that has to be done, the better it's going to be. With Rogue One, they didn't have the original actors doing the performances.

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