RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 147 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION ANTHONY RUSSO, JOE RUSSO SCREENPLAY CHRISTOPHER MARKUS, STEPHEN McFEELY STARRING CHRIS EVANS, ROBERT DOWNEY JR., SCARLETT JOHANSSON, SEBASTIAN STAN, ANTHONY MACKIE, DON CHEADLE, JEREMY RENNER, CHADWICK BOSEMAN, PAUL BETTANY, ELIZABETH OLSEN, PAUL RUDD, EMILY VanCAMP, TOM HOLLAND, FRANK GRILLO, WILLIAM HURT, DANIEL BRÜHL MUSIC HENRY JACKMAN
Captain America: Civil War is a loose adaption of Marvel’s Civil War comic book arc from the early 2000’s.
Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) are at odds. After the events of New York, Sakovia, and most recently a bomb accident in Nigeria caused by Scarlett Witch, the United Nations have agreed to enforce the “Sakovia Act” upon the Avengers. It will make the Avengers a subordinate of the UN and ultimately keep them in check in order to prevent further destruction caused by by them.
While Tony Stark wants to sign the treaty, Captain America is against it which leads to tension between him and Tony and ultimately divides the rest of the Avengers.
This movie is incredibly awesome and starts out with a blast! Right from the get-go we get an incredible action sequence that sets the tone (for the most part). The way it is shot reminds very much of the Bourne Identity franchise. Quick cuts, close ups and shaky camera movements make you feel every punch and explosion. Even the fight choreography looks amazingly gritty and feels very powerful. You never feel dizzy, nor do you feel lost following whats going on. The direction and cinematography during the action is the best I have ever seen in a Superhero film. It also feels very real and believable.
One of the criticisms I have given Marvel Studios in the past is that the action feels too over the top and fake, also because of over-reliance on CGI. Sure, there is tons of comic book action with superpowers and such, but it never took me out and made me roll my eyes. In fact, I had so much fun watching the characters use their powers that I couldn’t get enough. They combine their strengths and work as a team, which is so much fun to watch. It’s just spectacular!
Another thing I love is the tone of the film (mostly). It feels much more dramatic than any other Marvel Studios film outside of The Winter Soldier and you feel the stakes. It can be easily compared to Batman v Superman (BvS), since both films deal with similar themes about the destruction caused by super-humans and the fallout of it – only that Civil War does a much better job at it because it keeps the focus and develops its characters much much better. Sure, we already know the characters, so it’s easy for Marvel to make us invested. But that’s only one side of the coin. The other is that each character has his own motivation why to join either side of the team and the movie portrays that effectively, while introducing new players into the mix. The addition of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) feels very natural and makes total sense for the story.
But the best thing about all this and how the story is told, is that the movie doesn’t need a villain. The villain is created by the viewer by choosing sides, either with Steve Rogers or Tony Stark. The genius thing about it is that both opinions are right and you understand why either side acts the way it does. But everyone has an opinion and naturally you will drift towards either Team Cap or Team Iron Man, and on the flip side create your own antagonists. For some it might be Steve Rogers and for others it may be Tony Stark. But you never really hate either one of them because you still see the reasoning behind their opinion. While I am on team Iron Man, I still agree partly with Cap on some things. There is no right answer and that creates great drama and tension because ultimately in your heart you hate seeing them fight one another.
Speaking about villains and how unnecessary they are for the plot. We still have a “real” villain in Zemo (Daniel Brühl). We all know that Marvel Studios has a big problem with the portrayal of their villains and that doesn’t change here. Zemo is totally wasted and unnecessary. You could take him out of the story and almost nothing would change. Sure, he is responsible for some of the twists and turns, but really, even without him, the story would most likely play out the same way.
AIRPORT FIGHT (no spoilers)
Let’s get to the meat of the review which most likely will cause some controversy here. There is one action scene somewhere after the middle that is incredible and will make comic book fans totally geek out. It’s when both parties of the Avengers clash on the airport (It’s in the trailer). I’m very torn with this scene because, while I find it really freakin’ amazing and worth the admission price alone, for some reason it doesn’t really work for me in the movie.
First, it’s a big tonal switch. The fight feels very lighthearted and, to me, sometimes comedic. The reason for that is the inclusion of Spider-Man and Ant-Man, who both are very witty and joky characters, into the fight. Suddenly, all the tension, grit and drama, which was present in the entire movie, disappears and gets replaced by a lot of jokes and comedic dialogue. It just feels like too much of a departure from the rest of the film.
Second, the inclusion of Spider-Man and Ant-Man into the plot feels a little forced. They basically get recruited by the side they end up fighting for. Only problem is, why would they even choose to participate in a fight where they are asked to hurt somebody they haven’t even met before? Would you ever participate in a fight, if some stranger comes up to you and asks you to fight somebody he has a feud with? Of course not! That’s common sense. I was saying before that each character has a clear motivation to fight and choosing sides. But Ant-Man and Spider-Man seem just fight for the sake of fighting. It’s not as bad in case of Spider-Man, but Ant-Man just make it seem like he doesn’t care for the reason why he gets recruited. Don’t get me wrong, I love that they are in the movie. It just feels like the producers have found a lazy way to include both characters into the plot without earning it.
Third, speaking of lazy writing – the entire setup for the fight feels a little bit staged. I know why they fight at the airport, but something isn’t right about it. Maybe I missed something, but for me it felt like Tony Stark giving Steve Rogers a call and be like:
“Hey Steve! Wanna fight?”
“Hey, great idea! Where you wanna meet?”
“Lets meet at 4pm at the airport tomorrow. Will you be able to make it?”
“Yeah, sure. Let me just call my buddy Ant-Man, if he can join us.”
“Now that you mention it – let me also ask Peter Parker. Btw. if he doesn’t want to fight, I will blackmail him. See you tomorrow!”
Then, there is a scene before the fight with Captain America and the daughter of Agent Carter that just made me roll my eyes like crazy. Luckily, the reaction of the other characters and the funny setup for it made it worthwhile and saved the scene for me, even though thinking back on it I still feel like – Really?! You really just did that?! Anyway…
One more word to Spider-Man. I love the new Spider-Man. His character is amazingly played by Tom Holland and the action scenes involving him are amazing and funny, just as it should be with Spider-Man. Also, all the references about Aunt May and the fact that she is so young, are so funny. My critique just goes to how Spider-Man got involved into the story.
That just was a lot of criticism to a scene which in itself is incredibly awesome. The fight is spectacular and maybe the best action scene with Superheroes ever put on screen. Everybody gets to shine. You really feel how much fun the screenwriters and the director had with putting that scene together.
It just doesn’t really work for me in the context of the movie. You basically can take the scene out, watch it by itself and still feel satisfied. Even when you take the scene out of the film, the movie doesn’t change. For me it just feels like fan-service on a very high level. But maybe I’m to harsh…
Now, one more thing I want to point out here, while I’m at it. You have probably seen in the trailer when War-Machine looks pretty beaten up and held by Tony Stark grieving over his seemingly dead body. Marvel has been criticised for not sticking to their guns when killing of characters
Even though I’m pointing out a lot of issues I have with the movie, I still think it is awesome and one of my favorites in the MCU, maybe even my favorite behind the original Iron Man. The good still outweigh the bad big time. The thing though is that after the first 60 minutes, I was thinking to myself that this could be it – a 10/10. Everything works! A perfect Marvel movie! But then some things happened that just felt a little lazy and inconsequential, which dragged the movie down for me. Too bad, really because other than that I think that the movie is perfect comic book action.
It’s thrilling. It has tons of suspense and great looking action. The story is dramatic and incredibly dense. So, if you are a fan of superhero films, you probably don’t need the review anyway to go see the film. But if you are not a Marvel or DC fan and just want to watch an amazing action film, this is absolutely for you.
Also, you don’t have to know the previous Marvel films to enjoy this flick, although, it will make the characters more familiar to you and amp the drama, if you have at least seen both Avengers movies + Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
P.S.: Just a side note about the title of the film. Why didn’t Marvel just call it Civil War or Avengers: Civil War? Other than the fact that the film furthers the plot around Captain America’s relationship with Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier, the movie totally feels like Avengers 2.5