Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: Captain America: Civil War

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 147 minutes

Like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, this movie is coming out soon on DVD. So, I figured I should jump ahead and review this one, since I'm still terrible at getting these out immediately after seeing them in theaters.

With many people fearing the actions of super heroes, the government decides to push for the Hero Registration Act, a law that limits a hero's actions. This results in a division in The Avengers. Iron Man stands with this Act, claiming that their actions must be kept in check otherwise cities will continue to be destroyed, but Captain America feels that saving the world is daring enough and that they cannot rely on the government to protect the world. This escalates into an all-out war between Team Iron Man (Iron Man, Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, and Spiderman) and Team Captain America (Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Sharon Carter, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant Man) while a new villain emerges. [Source: IMDb]

Despite not having a review for Captain America: The First Avenger, I have written a quick review for 2014's sequel Captain America: Winter Solider. Like most Marvel movies, I was looking forward to seeing what would happen to the Avengers after adding some new members, dealing with some unexpected threats, and adjusting their dynamics as a team. This was also the first time I've read a comic book related to this story, although the other one had more content featured in the film that I read later. So, it was kinda nice to have something to compare the movie to and understand a little bit more of what was happening on screen. I believe my mom and I caught this either the week after opening or not too long after that and we were both pretty excited since so far Marvel has been pretty good with their cinematic universe.

Going into this movie, I heard nothing but good things and people joking or half joking about what side they were on. For the most part, I've been rather pleased with the direction the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken, despite my complaints about their villains. In short, I was fairly optimistic going into this movie. After reading Civil War, I knew that this movie would be about whether superheroes should be accountable for their destructive actions. Some people thought this plot was a commentary to the destruction of Superman in Man of Steel, but this storyline existed before that movie did. The divide between these two groups: Team Iron Man and Team Captain America, had to deal with government control and also a bit of trust in their friendship. Fortunately, this feud, at least in my eyes, didn't cause too much of a series fan war compared to the ridiculous Team Jacob and Team Edward bout in the Twilight franchise. Sure, there might've been a couple comments here and there of not understanding why you would side with one and not the other, but nothing serious. As someone with the ability to understand both points of view, I can understand why anyone would choose either one. They both had valid points in their stance, but the way they went about proving their point seemed to cause more damage than harmony. The movie also provides us with pros and cons in both of our heroes' decisions.

Normally, I would go somewhat in depth with what I thought about the characters featured in the film, but majority of them we were introduced to in previous Marvel films. Whether I explicitly said whether I enjoyed these characters or not in their respective reviews, I can concisely say here that I enjoy all of the characters presented more or less, although I wish Quicksilver was part of the group currently. The newest addition to the universe and probably one of the most anticipated characters was Black Panther. Ah, you thought I was gonna say Spider-Man, but I'll give him his time soon. Black Panther is someone I'm not completely familiar with and I'm sure there are plenty of people who are on the same boat. I believe the movie gave him just enough backstory and reason for him to exist in this war between Captain America and Iron Man (or should I say Steve Rogers and Tony Stark). Every time he came on screen, whether in costume or not, I enjoyed watching him transform and interact with our cast of heroes we've been following for years. He definitely fits into the mold quite well and gives a more serious attitude to counter the short wit banter and commentary that are usually featured in comic based least in Marvel ones. Which leads me to our newest Spider-Man. I agree with most people who complain that Marvel should've kept the webslinger secret for audiences to cheer and gasp in theaters than outwardly displaying the new young actor in the trailer. His appearance would've been quite an exciting treat, although I am going to miss Andrew Garfield. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the little bit of background we got from Peter Parker and Aunt May without retreading the same territory we've seen twice. I will admit it felt a little disjointed when his story is introduced, but it did come together gradually when all the players were in place.

Going back to the story, it was mostly clear what the conflict was about and why Steve and Tony felt so strongly about their decision. It suited their characters and I never questioned their reasoning to either sign or not sign this new government act for the superpowered. The alliances also made sense as well. Although I found it interesting that their allies knew how to separate their beliefs and their friendship during battle with each other. It created some humorous banter and displayed their varying personalities very well, especially our newcomers Black Panther and Spider-Man. On the other hand, the situation affected Steve and Tony's friendship to the point of distrust. Ultimately, it created another problem that helped steer the story to "this is almost a third Avengers movie" to a "Captain America story". Bucky Barnes a.k.a the Winter Soldier was the bridge to that gap or potential blur. I admit at times it almost seemed too much like an Avenger movie with the inclusion of so many heroes from Avengers: Age of Ultron that it could almost seem a tiny bit cluttered. While I do believe that Marvel does a great job of compartmentalizing each character's own subplot, there were moments where I wished there was a bit less. But if you compare it to the Civil War comic (the one I linked above), it's actually a good thing there weren't as many heroes and villains going in a hundred different directions, because honestly it was hard to keep up with everyone in the comic, especially since I'm not familiar with every single character. What we're given in variety or scope was satisfying enough and contained itself with characters fairly well. The story knew which characters to focus on the most to possibly bridge to future installments such as Vision, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man. For the most part, it tried its best to keep the spotlight on Captain America and everything he's dealing with, which can be a bit of challenge with Tony Stark's big personality. With these various conflicts and large cast of characters, I didn't feel lost or bored. The pacing was pretty good and the story felt mostly balanced between the initial conflict at hand as well as with what to do about Bucky. It knew when to give us a breather with developmental dialogue and when to move things along with some fantastic action sequences. It never really felt like things dragged along. Also, Marvel finally got an actual villain that I'm pleased with. If you don't know what I'm talking about or forgot from previous posts, majority of the MCU villains have been built up to be these huge threats to be disposed of quickly by the climax, which is very disappointing. This time our threat is not only fleshed out, but actually puts up quite the fight for our heroes while adding fuel to the fire of their own disagreements. Hopefully, this will be a practice that will continue in further MCU installments.

But, Miko, how does this compare to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice...or even why bother with another versus superhero movie? Other than the obvious that this movie was clearly more successful and the other obvious point that I didn't write a 50 page essay on how problematic it was, there are some legitimate elements that both universes can learn from each other. It's something that came up after the movie between my mother and myself. The MCU knows how to have fun and when it needs to be serious. It doesn't try to be dark and gritty; it's a comic book movie! It knows how to make its audience laugh, cry, and think. It really gets us to invest in all of its characters, excluding most of its villains, which is something DCU excels at. Well...somewhat excels at. I admit I enjoyed the over the top General Zod and his right hand lady; Lex Luthor on the other hand, I didn't care for. But if you count the villains from the Christopher Nolan trilogy, they've had some downright memorable and fleshed out villains. I know, I know it's an unfair comparison, but they don't have much to pull from at this point. What I'm saying is, that I want those threatening villains to be threatening villains instead of jokes. Putting our beloved heroes in danger is thrilling and makes us cling even closer to them. There's also that tiny (or maybe not so tiny) part of us that want to like the villain or at least enjoy how big and bad they are. I think those two things are the major points they can learn from each other. Along with that is the writing and pacing, which is something I've already touched on at least to some extent in this post and the "BvS" review. Both movies are over two hours long, but when you have action that moves along smoothly and stimulating dialogue, it doesn't feel like you're sitting in a theater for 10 hours. Pretty much, when you're having fun, it doesn't matter how long the journey is.

Captain America: Civil War continues to be an exciting installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as a step in the right direction on what to do with their newly introduced heroes Black Panther and Spider-Man, along with a better development with their villain. The story not only continues to be consistently balanced between entertainment and overall development, but remains exciting and engaging throughout its over two hour running time. The movie also doesn't feel too cluttered with its extra characters and various subplots and maintains focus on the greater issue revolving around Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and Iron Man. While at times it can lean a little toward another Avengers film, it does overall feel like a third installment to the Captain America series and makes me excited to see what they have in store for not only the characters we're familiar with but with our new heroes Spider-Man and Black Panther. Also, if you haven't already, check out BlipMasta5's review.

Rating: 4/5

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