Captain America: Civil War Review

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Best Super Hero Movie Ever.

Captain America: Civil War L to R: Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Director Anthony Russo, and Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) on set.  Ph: Zade Rosenthal  ©Marvel 2016

Ph: Zade Rosenthal
©Marvel 2016

I know, you’ve heard that claim before, even from me. This time is different. With Captain America: Civil War, Joe and Anthony Russo have seriously raised the bar for the genre. Civil War is not only a non-stop action film but its also a well told story that doesn’t get lost in the sea of characters that appear in it. This is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written because I don’t know where to even start. This is a massive film, yet the Russos managed to make it all come together and connect in this 146 minute masterpiece.

Let’s start here: If you're going to make a movie based on two iconic characters coming to blows then you have to sell the conflict that drives a wedge between them. More importantly you have to present the conflict in a way that leaves your heroes still heroes. That's why Captain America: Civil War succeeds where so many other films fail. Despite the advertisement campaign that urged fans to pick a side as either #TeamCap or #TeamIronman, Civil War makes this decision difficult. Both Steve and Tony make good points. Both also make mistakes and are wrong. This causes the audience to have an internal battle as to who is actually right in this fight. When Tony and Steve finally come to blows, it’s not only brutal (yes, BRUTAL) but it matters because you're also watching a friendship fall apart.

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2016

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2016

And it’s not just Tony and Steve whose friendship is put on the line but the entire Avengers team. That’s how this film is able to manage such large cast. The Avengers up to this point have been family. Even new additions like Wanda and Vision have been integrated into the team and family. At one point Tony jokingly asks who keeps pouring coffee grounds down the sink and fusses over it as you would expect close college roommates. This film watches each member have to take up a side and arms against their former friends. Punches aren't being pulled here (except for one time and that is quickly called out).

There might be complaints that Daniel Bruh’s Zemo is yet another “flat” villain for Marvel but I think that’s premature. Think of this film as more of an introduction for Zemo, an origin if you will. He's not meant to be the real focus. The real “villains” of this film are the egos and principles of Steve and Tony which lead to heroes and friends coming to blows. That’s what the audience really wants to see and instead of elevating Zemo to be larger than that, the Russos keep their eyes on the prize and deliver want fans want to see.

Photo Credit: Film Frame..© Marvel 2016

Photo Credit: Film Frame..© Marvel 2016

Just like with Winter Soldier, the Russos take special care to make sure the female characters, Black Widow and Scarlett Witch, get treated well. While I didn’t have a problem with Natasha’s treatment in Age of Ultron, some did. I think that those that were disappointed before will feel much better about her role in this film. In a way, she’s the “adult” in the room who can see that both Tony and Steve are making valid points but at the same time are too headstrong to compromise. Wanda not only gets to show off just how powerful she is but you see her struggle with the fact that she’s one of the most powerful Avengers and what that means. Her interactions with Vision reveal two powerful Avengers still struggling with understanding what they can do and their responsibilities. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany play off of each other very well and those familiar with the history behind those two characters will enjoy seeing them interact with each other.

The Russos were helped by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch (Directors of John Wick) as Second Unit Directors on the film and the effects are immediately seen. These are some of the most well choreographed and filmed fight scenes that have ever been seen in a non-martial arts film. The fighting is fluid and we watch characters flow from move to move, combo to combo all while the camera doesn’t crowd the shot. We get to see and feel every punch, kick and slam. There are also very distinctive fighting styles from each character which keeps the fights interesting. For example, Sam’s Falcon wings and suit have been upgraded and allow for Sam’s fighting style to incorporate the fact that he can fly. Add in some high tech gadgets and Sam Wilson is actually not someone you want to mess with.This is an action packed film that doesn’t really slow down. Watching Bucky and Captain clear a staircase full of soldiers is just as entertaining as the giant battle Royale between heroes at the airport. As I mentioned before, the final fight between Tony and Steve is one of the most brutal fights we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not a safe film. People get hurt.

Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Photo Credit: Film Frame
© Marvel 2016

In addition to familiar faces, we get the highly anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of two characters: Black Panther and Spider-Man. Fans of these characters will not be disappointed. Chadwick Boseman stepped up to the role of T’Challa and will make those who have waited for the first black superhero to get live action treatment happy. Black Panther is not only done well but is a constant presence in this film. There are fight scenes with Black Panther that are going to make you wish that theaters came equip with DVR so you could rewind the scene. As for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, those that didn’t think they wanted to see another Peter Parker Spider-Man film will quickly change their minds. It becomes clear why Sony has handed creative control over to Marvel Studios for Spider-Man. We’ve never truly had a teenage Spider-Man until this film and as an audience we didn’t really know what we were missing. Seeing a young Peter Parker have to interact with other heroes (another thing we’ve never really seen) that are older than him is like watching a comic book come to life. Also, just think about this: Young Peter Parker, his Aunt May (Played by Marisa Tomei) and Tony Stark in a room together. Yes, its as magical as you’d imagine. There are two after credit scenes for this movie and both involve the newcomers. One is a scene that many of us have been waiting a long time for. I will leave it at that.

The MVP of this movie might be Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. Ant-Man ended Marvel’s Phase 2 and was a success. If somehow you still weren’t sold on the character after that, Civil War should be what you need. In a movie that doesn’t carry as much of a humorous tone as other films in Marvel’s stable, Rudd brings some levity to scenes to keep them from getting too serious. Also, if you just don’t see how a guy who shrinks can be useful in a fight with the likes of Iron Man, War Machine and Vision, well that question definitely gets answered.

I could continue to write more and list each of the other characters in this movie and talk about them but I don’t want this review to be 2000 words. Bottom line is just see the film. The meticulous planning that Kevin Feige and Marvel have put into the MCU is paid for in full with Captain America: Civil War. This is why Marvel is on top and why every studio that makes comic book films is trying to catch up to them.

Make Mine Marvel.

*If you want to hear more about this film, make sure you check out the audio spoiler-free review here. We'll also be adding in a spoiler review on the Premium feed for Premium members.

 

 

 

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Charles (Kriss)

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