Movie Review: ‘Captain America: Civil War’
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Wilson, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl
Plot: A rift forms between the core members of The Avengers when world leaders demand they come under bureaucratic command. Captain America continues to defy orders in his pursuit of Bucky Barnes, causing tension between him and Tony Stark. Meanwhile, the mysterious Col. Zemo is manipulating the Winter Soldier in order to unlock the secrets behind his creation.
Review: The thirteenth Marvel Cinematic Universe film in only 8 years. How have they not screwed it up by this point? The sheer scope of the franchise is a hitherto unseen accomplishment in the history of cinema, and the fact that they’ve produced something this damn good at this stage is nothing short of remarkable.
So yes, it is very good. One of the best in the series and for surprisingly simple reasons. Whilst Age of Ultron escalated the series into a bigger, global conflict with hordes of enemies and city wide destruction, Civil War makes the conflict smaller and the result is somehow more exciting. Instead of the heroes knocking back an endless stream of robots (which was awesome in it’s own right) we have a small group of characters who we have gotten to know over a long series turning on each other. It’s a rare occurrence in that we don’t have a clear idea of who’s going to win. It goes one further – we don’t even know who we want to win.
The Russo’s biggest success in this film is how human the conflict feels. They take the time to build the conflict before it comes to blows and it feels like it was unavoidable (for these characters, at least), instead of a cheap cop-out like the characters being tricked into fighting each other. Many felt that the most entertaining scene in Age of Ultron (last time I compare them, promise) was the party scene. Getting these actors who are so well versed in the characters to shoot the shit with each other and interact as realistic people is tremendous fun. Civil War runs with this idea and the film is packed with brilliant character moments. A couple of notable moments are Vision and Scarlet Witch (who gets some good character development this time around) chatting in the kitchen, Bucky and Falcon hating on each other and Tony’s first meeting with young Peter Parker.
A very young Peter Parker – this kid looks like a high schooler. Now it may seem premature to say this considering he’s a support player in a big ensemble but Tom Holland may be the best damn Spider-Man we’ve seen on the screen. His performance is so natural it almost feels effortless. He has a larger role than we expected and the character has been perfectly brought to life right down to his babbling during the fights. Also joining the cast in a larger role is Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Although he isn’t as well known as the web-slinger he left a fantastic impression. His fluid agility while fighting Bucky and Rogers made him a formidable and unique opponent. They gave us enough information to know his motivation but left much of his character in the dark, making us hungry for a solo film to explore the character in depth. Daniel Brühl is fascinating as Col. Zemo, the figure who is delving into Bucky’s past for reasons that slowly reveal themselves over the course of the film. Without wanting to say anything more, he is a surprising villain for the series that takes things in a different direction.
One of the few problems with the film is the time it takes to raise the stakes. Whilst there is plenty of awesome action and dialogue throughout the running time it isn’t until the third act that they really ratchet up the tension. The second act ends with the amazing airport fight between the superheroes, which is fun and exciting and creative, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be an Earth changing battle that people may not be walking away from. It’s only the final battle that makes us feel like something big is going down.
Speaking of that airport battle: very possibly the coolest fight in the franchise. Seeing these characters cutting loose on each other is incredibly cool. We wish LEGO handled spoiled that one thing though (if you don’t know what it is, keep it that way). Overall this was a fantastic new chapter in the leading superhero franchise and it raises bar in the best possible way. After 13 movies following these characters…we just want more!
Rating: NINE out of TEN