Saturday, April 30, 2016


The latest installment from the juggernaut Marvel Money Printer has shown us that you can in fact have superheroes fight against each other, and still give them clear motivations. I hate to make this all about the whole Marvel versus DC debacle, but take note Warner Brothers, because this is how it's done. Scroll away friendly reader, because this review is spoiler-free.

You would think that these movies would be getting stale once we'd hit the 13th entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but somehow they manage to once again keep things fresh and introduce new dynamics into the fray; hell, I've watched it twice already. If The Avengers was a movie about all the good that comes from this gargantuan superhero team-up, then Civil War shows us the other side of the coin. Saving the world from mass attacks always comes at a price, and that to save the many, a few innocents are always going to find themselves casualties among the destruction. This movie is really the first time the MCU has addressed this issue of collateral damage, and shows us how each of the characters is affected.

The Sokovia Accords, or known in the 2006 comic event as the Superhero Registration Act, is introduced and serves as the metaphorical crowbar that wedges our heroes apart. Following the civilian deaths caused by the battles in New York, Washington DC and Sokovia, over 100 countries band together to create the Accords, which are designed to stop The Avengers from having free reign over what they decide to go after. Before the team are allowed to approach a situation, the act must be sanctioned by a panel designated by the United Nations. Stark, deeply affected by the loss of life his actions have cause, immediately supports and signs the Accords. Captain America though feels as this would limit the power they have to help people with, and is apprehensive towards it, beginning the rift that forms in the middle of the Avengers squad. There's a lot more to the plot, but this is all I'll give away.

While Civil War boasts a very impressive roster, it is first and foremost a Captain America movie, rather than an Avengers movie. In The First Avenger we met a gung-ho young soldier with a heart of gold, who became a complete badass in The Winter Soldier. Here we see his character developed further, settled more into this new world of his, and faced with some of the toughest decisions of his life. He's been my favorite member of the Avengers for a while now, and this movie hasn't changed my mind. That being said though, the movie definitely conflicts you, and while Cap is the protagonist, the movie isn't biased and doesn't lead the audience in one direction or the other. The major heart of the story is the trifecta of emotion surrounding Cap, his old friend Bucky and Tony Stark. Everyone else is a background player.

The show-stealer, however, was my man Spider-Man. Within 60 seconds of him first appearing in the film I was one-hundred percent sold on Tom Holland as our friendly neighborhood web-slinger. He wise-cracks his way through the much-hyped airport scene, while the rest of Team Stark takes it much more seriously. Paul Rudd as Ant-Man also shines in his small role, with a lot of great one-liners and a fantastic action setpiece, making me much more excited for Ant-Man and The Wasp. Hawkeye doesn't have much to do here, but he's as cool as he's ever been, and the same can be said for vision. While Black Panther's introduction was a little rushed, he was another highlight of the film. T'Challa was well defined and more important to the plot than I expected, and Chadwick Boseman gave a great performance. Scarlett Witch was developed very well here, and I can see them planting the seeds of the comic-book relationship between her and Vision. Elizabeth Olsen gave one of the better performances in the film. Robert Downey Jr. gives the best performance he ever has in his iron clad suit, showing some real anger and emotion. I could go on about the characters and performances all day, but this is a review not a 2,000 word essay; point is everybody did their part, and did it well.

Action. We see it in every single comic book movie. Heroes and villains punching, kicking and shooting each other, same old same old, we get it. Captain America: Civil War has hands down the best action scenes in the MCU so far. The Russo Brothers have cemented themselves as the guys who deserve to be running the show. Everything is filmed and edited so crisply and cleanly, and the fights are so visceral you can feel every hit. They go for a more hands-on, ground level combat approach, which makes you feel more attached to the fights and the characters within them. One of my favorite things about this movie is the scale. They've omitted the usual “end of the world” bullshit in lieu of a much more personal story. No one's trying to blow up the Earth or shoot a bunch of people from the sky. It's just pure emotional conflict, with some strings being pulled from the shadows.

Let's talk about that airport scene, y'know, the one from the trailer. Watching a dozen heroes run at each other doesn't look as epic as the all-out war in the comics, but rest assured, IT IS. I hate to jump aboard and add fuel to the hype train, but this sequence is as good as it gets. Hands down the best action scene in any comic-book film I have ever watched, this 20-minute ripper gave me everything I wanted, plus everything I didn't even know I wanted. It is all-out, hero on hero glory, so many different personalities and abilities clashing in one glorious melting-pot of fun. Everybody gets their moment to shine, everybody has their highs and their lows, and I was completely lost in the child-like wonder that was on-screen. It was colorful, loud, bombastic and fun. It didn't try to be dark and serious, and I am actually glad for that, because this is what superheroes are all about, and why we love them. This scene is worth the ticket price alone, I paid to see it twice, and will do so again.

While this movie is about heroes going toe to toe, this movie still has a villain presence. Daniel Bruhl plays Zemo, who in some ways instigates the film's major conflict. I'm not going to spoil any details on his character, but I thought he worked for the most part. I wouldn't categorize him as a major MCU villain, he did his part for the story and was an interesting enough character. Frank Grillo returns as Rumlow AKA Crossbones, and I was honestly disappointed with his use in the movie. Again, no spoilers here, but they definitely could have handled his character a lot better. Don't go in expecting much of a villain, because this movie really is about these characters we've grown to know and love over the last 8 years, the movie builds and crescendos all the way to the emotionally draining climax.

As for other minor issues, I don't have too many. As previously mentioned Crossbones was wasted, and Vision didn't have a whole lot to do either. He was one of my favorite parts of Age of Ultron, and here his character came off as very uninteresting, and it felt like he kept switching between being too powerful, and not powerful enough. There are a couple of 'too convenient' moments that I can't get into because of spoilers, and aside from Scarlett Witch the movie didn't have a terribly strong female presence.

Now that the hard part is out of the way, let's conclude. Captain America: Civil War gave me everything I needed from it, and it's a relief after the mediocre 2015 Marvel had. While I don't think it hits the dramatic heights and tension of The Winter Soldier, or the fun camaraderie of Guardians of The Galaxy, Civil War is definitely up there as one of the best films Marvel Studios has put out, and it did almost everything right. There is so much to love here, do not miss it in theaters. Hell, see it three times, I know I will.

Jacob's Score: 9.5/10

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