Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Captain America: Civil War Review

For the first Captain America film, they had to add the subtitle "The First Avenger" because they were worried it wouldn't have enough pull overseas. And now the movie with the most American title ever is dominating the box office worldwide, and I'm here to give you my spoiler free thoughts on it. Click on to read the review.

This had to be my most anticipated film this year. Winter Soldier was one of my favorite comic book and action films of all time, and I just can't get enough of the MCU. And I have to tell you, this film lived up the the hype in every way. I absolutely loved it. It's not an absolutely perfect film, though, so let's break it down starting with the good things.

First of all, wow. What a cast. The acting was on point the whole time. Not one person turned in a bad performance, and you could really tell how much everyone cared about this property. Notable people that should be mentioned, I think, are Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Everyone was great, but I think, in terms of performances, these guys really stole the show.

Another thing this film has going for it is the story. It's extremely tight and focused. Everything in this film goes to further that, too. As opposed to the problems that Batman v. Superman or Age of Ultron had where things were forced in to help set up future films, everything that happens in Civil War goes to further the central plot. The plot is also very heavy, and carries a lot of emotional weight. Both in the writing and in the way the characters interact. You really feel the power of the franchise at this point. But never does it sacrifice Marvel's signature charm and sense of humor. And the Russo brothers really have to be commended for their storytelling capabilities.

Speaking of the Russo Brothers, they know how to direct action. And the action sequences in this film were undoubtedly some of the very best in the MCU so far. Maybe even some of the best of all time. After seeing it a second time, I still feel that way. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun watching action scenes on the big screen, I mean... that airport scene. Good lord. I mean... good lord. It was perfect.

I think, though, where this movie really shines, is that it makes you completely understand the motivations for each character. And that's what makes this film so special. It's ultimately a film about the characters as people, not superheroes. And it develops them with such care. Something the comic event sorely lacked. You may go into this film with one point of view, but I don't think you'll leave with the same one. If you don't see both points of view as you watch the movie... you're doing it wrong. And I want to take this opportunity to talk about a few of those characters. Without spoilers, of course.

First of all, Cap. I love the first Captain America, and as I said earlier, I love Winter Soldier even more. He's not only one of my favorite comic book characters, I love him even more in the MCU. And he's still done justice in this film. He's not a perfect person, but he'll always stand by what he believes is right. No matter what. Even if it puts him at odds with those he cares for. And that's another thing this movie does wonderfully. While it's easy to look at the movie as an Avengers film in disguise, it really is, at its heart, a film about Captain America and his friendship with Bucky.

Next up is Iron Man. There was a lot of debate early on as to whether or not Tony would truly support the accords as he does in the film. But it makes perfect sense in the movie. It's the culmination of his arc in a very satisfying way. And though they put him against Cap in his own movie, you still completely understand his motivations.

Of course I have to talk about Spider-Man. A lot of people are calling him the best on screen Spider- Man we've ever seen, I'm not ready to say that just yet. I'd say he's on the right track, and he was definitely the most fun to watch doing his Spider-Many things. But Spider-Man is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. And there's an emotional complexity and an overwhelming sense of responsibility to the character that was perfectly captured by the first two Raimi movies. And I just didn't quite see it here. Not necessarily because it wasn't there, but just because we haven't had enough time with him yet. I can't wait for his standalone, though. Where I think I might get what I'm looking for. I loved him in the movie, and I can't wait for more. I'd also like to say that this is the first time I've ever been physically attracted to Aunt May. Kinda broke my brain a little.

Lastly, just because she's another character from the comics I absolutely love, I have to talk about Scarlet Witch. I really loved her in this. She's portrayed as younger in this film than she is in the comics, and I feel like she makes perfect sense as a younger version of that character. I also really like how her powers work. She may be pretty nerfed, but she has a few scenes that show she's still one of the most powerful Avengers. And I really appreciate how her character was handled.

Alas, there's no such thing as a perfect film, and I'd like to take a moment to talk about a few of the things that let me down in the movie.

First of all, let's talk about the villain. Without giving anything away, the villain is sort of disposable. You could have taken him completely out of the movie, and written around him pretty easily. At the same time, though, it's a different kind of villain for Marvel. I liked his motivations and that they weren't to just 'take over the world.' Man. Even the cons have pros.

Also, this movie has an awful lot to do. It does it remarkably well, make no mistake, but it doesn't change the fact that it could have benefited from a little more time. And it can cut rather quickly, making the film occasionally feel somewhat jumpy. As I said earlier, it benefits greatly from its focused narrative. And because of that, you don't feel shortchanged. But it's worth noting that a few things, even potentially important things, are occasionally glossed over or rushed.

In the end, Civil War isn't just a superhero movie. It's a movie that's about its characters. It's a movie about friendship and vengeance. And how people have complex motivations. And it never loses that in all the glorious spectacle.

Final Score: 5/5 

This may very well be my favorite MCU film. While I think Winter Soldier still may a better constructed film, the best moments in Civil War are some of the best things I've seen in the MCU. Regardless, it's only the second I've given a perfect score.

So what did you think of Civil War? Is it really the best? Or is it overrated? Let me know in the comments. Stay tuned, as I'll be reviewing many of the other MCU films, as well as others a long the way. Next up: Batman v. Superman. But not before I give you my spoiler thoughts on this movie, which should be up soon. See y'all next time!

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