Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Marvel’s latest superhero blockbuster has landed with a spectacle of climatic super-powered fights, emotional conflict, and fully-realized characters.

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When Captain America came to the big screen, his movie was probably the weakest of Marvel’s Phase One. However, with each subsequent movie, Captain America’s movies have just gotten better. Following The Winter Soldier‘s improvements over The First Avenger, Civil War actually manages to improve over my favorite Marvel movie to date.

Flawed, But Still Cap

Let’s not forget that this is a Captain America movie. Despite the deep cast of characters in this movie (each with their own poignant turmoil to deal with), the character of Captain America and his struggles are central to the movie.

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Marvel’s movies are currently excelling where DC’s films are failing. DC believes that no one wants to watch a movie with a morally upright central character. So, DC takes Superman and makes him a being with immense power and questionable morals. Captain America remains righteous throughout his movie.

As perfect as Captain America seems, however, he is not without his flaws. Captain America is a man that has outlived his life span and everyone he knew is either dead or dying. Bucky represents a part of Cap’s life that he is desperate to hold on to. Bucky brings an element of weakness in the nearly flawless facade of Captain America without sacrificing who Captain America is.

CW_Poster_01Seeing Both Sides

I came into this movie completely Team Cap, just as I was during the original “Civil War” comic event in 2005. But, daggummit, the writing in this movie was so excellent that I was able to see both sides of the conflict. I even sympathized with Iron Man and his reasons for wanting to police the superhuman community.

Not to belabor Batman V Superman‘s failings, but the similarities of BvS and Civil War‘s central conflict between heroes of differing idealogies cannot be ignored. Unlike BvS, I was able to understand each character’s motivations –  even the most minor of characters!

Three-Dimensional Characters

As I just mentioned above, Civil War‘s writing is phenomenal in regards to the connections it manages to create between the audience and the huge cast of characters. I found myself extremely compelled by the character of Scarlet Witch (with whom I felt no connection to in Age of Ultron) and Black Widow surprised me with the depth of her character (I haven’t been a huge fan of her since her debut in Iron Man 2). Even Spider-Man, as minor a role he played, had a compelling reason to participate in this movie. The only character I didn’t feel had good motivation was Ant-Man, but he’s such a minor character in the film that it doesn’t matter. He’s also hilarious.

Civil War has great writing and great characterization.

Welcome To MCU, Spider-Man

As soon as I saw the white text reading “Queens” appear on the screen, I began squealing like a little girl. I am a huge Spider-Man fan, have been for years, and Marc Webb’s recent “Amazing” movies were just so very disappointing. I have been ecstatic to see the MCU get a hold of Spider-Man (because let’s be honest: MCU’s movies are gold right now).

I could not be happier.

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Tom Holland is a perfect Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire was a nerdy Peter Parker and Andrew Garfield played a very quippy Spider-Man, but Tom Holland captures both personas of the character. He’s extremely nerdy and extremely funny.

I cannot wait to see subsequent Spider-Man movies with this actor and version of the character.

Black Panther Has Never Been Cooler

The subtitle says it all. Black Panther has really never been cooler. I was curious how T’Challa would fit into the overall story of Civil War and I found myself very happy with how it was managed. Black Panther’s motivation for joining the conflict is compelling. As much as I was Team Cap, I found myself cheering for Black Panther to succeed in his very personal mission.

Unreal Fight Sequences

And I mean “unreal” in the sense of it was totally wicked, and I use “wicked” in the sense that it was really cool, and I use “really cool” in the sense that it was totally badass.

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The combat choreography in The Winter Soldier was the best I had seen in a superhero movie… until I saw Civil War. The action sequence at the airport is straight out of a comic book and manages to look amazing and not cheesy. I could go on about the action in other scenes, but I don’t want to spoil this movie’s stunning plot. Suffice it to say that the action is amazing and had me dancing in my seat in the movie theater.

A Little Slow 

As action-packed as Civil War is, the action is relegated towards the second half of the movie. The first half of the movie is largely exposition, establishing the two sides of this conflict, the powers pulling the strings, and each of the characters. It takes a while to get going, but all this exposition is badly needed to make the action at the end of the movie meaningful. As great as the writing in the exposition was, I was frothing at the mouth by the time the action started. Which I’m still not sure was a triumph or a disadvantage of the movie.

Loki Is The Only Great Villain

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The main conflict of Civil War is between Captain American and Iron Man , but there is a third party pulling the strings. With the focus on the two heroes, there really isn’t a need for a great villain, but it just adds to the disappointing trend that so far there has been no really great villain in the Marvel movies besides Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. The villain of this movie’s motivation is understandable and sympathetic, but I just didn’t find myself to drawn in by his character.

I was also disappointed how Crossbones was only featured in the film for a few minutes. He’s a major Captain America villain and his time in MCU was too short.

 

YskcNjFThe Acting

Marvel’s casting has been on-point. Every character has been perfectly cast in each Marvel movie. I’ll admit that I was not happy with the casting of Chris Evans as Captain America a few years ago, but I truly cannot imagine a different actor in the role. I am amazed at Marvel’s ability to coerce these top-billing actors to share screen time, even if it is minimal. Civil War has some big name actors sharing the spotlight and each shines in the amount of time they get.

Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. reprised roles they have been perfectly cast as. Sebastian Stan brings Bucky to life in a compelling way. Chadwick Boseman had a standout premiere performance as Black Panther. I could list the other standout performances featured in Civil War, but I would have to list the movie’s entire cast!

The Music

Henry Jackman returns to the MCU to compose this movie’s soundtrack. He composed The Winter Soldier‘s soundtrack. He’s also composed the soundtracks for X-Men: Days of Future Past, Kick-Ass, and Big Hero Six. Jackman does a great job capturing the themes of the movie, playing into the grand action sequences along with the dark and shadowy subterfuge.

The Kids

Marvel movies are kind of a tough one for me to approve for kids. It has great moral role-models and great themes, but it does have a lot of cursing and suspenseful action. I kind of choose to leave it to the parents as far as taking their children to Marvel movies go, but I would highly regard the PG-13 rating.

The Grade

Civil War brings clashing ideologies to the big screen and through masterful writing helps the viewers see both sides of the conflict. Stellar acting and characterization brings the emotional struggles and choices within the movie to the forefront of the film’s focus. Despite a slow beginning and an overwhelming supporting cast of characters, Civil War manages to deliver what may be the greatest Marvel movie to date.

I give Captain America: Civil War a grade of…

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Have you seen Civil War yet? I highly recommend it. It’s a great movie and will possibly be the greatest action movie this year. Leave your comments below.

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