Captain America: Civil War – Review


It’s finally here, Phase 3 of Marvel kicks off now which is set to be one of the most ambitious film projects of all time, which will culminate in 10 movies in total. It was supposed to be 11 but I am not going to count Inhumans just yet because the film is in development hell right now and I suspect that it is going to be pushed back to a probable phase 4. Announced way back at comic con a year ago, just before the release of Avengers Age of Ultron, it was announced that Captain America Civil War would be the first film of this new phase and would kick off this new era of Marvel with the Russo brothers Anthony and Joe returning from Captain America The Winter Soldier to direct since that film received a lot of critical praise and was really loved by the public and comic fans alike. It was also announced that the screenplay would once again be written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely which added to the hype and would be a massive coming together of many heroes of the Marvel Universe. This is also interesting as this is the team that going to be behind the upcoming Avengers Infinity War which will be split into two parts across two consecutive Summers in 2018 and 2019 so it will be interesting to see how they manage a massive group of characters since The Winter Soldier only really had a few of the main characters and was pretty much a self contained Captain America movie.

I was actually pretty hyped for this film, The Winter Soldier was an excellent movie, probably one of Marvel’s best, I personally would put it third on the list considering I enjoyed the original Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy more, but it’s still a good movie and is one of the most balanced and interesting looks at drone warfare in modern films up until Eye In The Sky came out. I’m just going to get this out there though, I know these films don’t tend to concern themselves too much with adapting the comic note for note which is a blessing in Avengers Age of Ultron because the comic sucks, but I’m really not a fan of the original civil war comic written by Mark Millar, it’s not too bad an event by any means with the exception of the ending which comes out of nowhere and really contradicts what we had been told up to that point, but it didn’t help the fact that the Tie ins weren’t consistent with what was going on and it led to a lot of character ruination, some of which hasn’t been healed up to this point particularly with Spiderman who still hasn’t recovered completely from the abysmal storyline One More Day which was a direct follow up from Civil War. I am not holding that against this film however, since it was also announced the film would contain a lot of characters appearing for the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Black Panther, who will be getting his own movie coming up, directed by Creed director Ryan Coubler and also, as revealed in the second trailer, Spiderman, who will getting his own film Homecoming, out next year. So, can this film adapt a comic that I wasn’t too fond of, but make something great out of it, I have special confidence considering Marvel were lifting their embargo on reviews a month before the film’s release in the US, that shows a lot of confidence. Also, firm warning here, I am not going to be spoiling anything of this movie, it will be spoiler free, however, in order to talk about it I am going to have to talk about things from all the other Marvel movies, so no restraint of spoilers for anything in the Marvel movies or the TV seiries, including the Netflix series.

The plot of Captain America Civil War is that after a botched mission in Nigeria, secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (played by William Hurt) along with the United Nations sets up a registration act for Super Humans in order to control where they go and what their actions will be to avoid liability. Tony Stark aka Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr) is leading the charge for pro registration, meanwhile Steve Rogers aka Captain America (played by Chris Evans) is determined not to sign, believing it to be counter active to their work, but he is also having to deal with the re-emergence of Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan) who has supposedly caused the terrorist incident at a UN conference that results in the death of many individuals, including the current King of Wakanda (a fictional African nation in the Marvel universe). With Captain America trying to bring in the Winter Soldier alive he has fallen foul of the registered government heroes and it is leading to an all out conflict between Ironman’s side and Captain America’s side. I was actually amazed how much the early portion of the film borrowed from the comic, including a lot of Tony’s motivations to start registering. It is certainly a much more faithful adaptation of its comic counterpart than Age of Ultron, however, the film does have its own identity apart from the comic and that’s where it excels. This film has an excellent plot, there is tons of excellent build up, pay off and the plot really keeps you going throughout the entire film. The Russo brothers have a really hard task to achieve because they are juggling several characters with all of their own different motivations and story arcs, yet the Russos make this look effortless and this is even more outstanding considering they have more characters to deal with than the original Avengers movie. What’s more, none of the characters feel short changed. No hero feels like a cameo. This many characters and sub plots would normally lead to a film being a massive mess with trying to cram too much into a short space of time, but it actually doesn’t feel that way, it feels natural and organic. I would even go so far as to say I think the film manages to do a lot of what Batman V Superman tried to do but does almost every beat of it better. The conflict feels more natural and well bought up, the build up is excellent the other heroes feel much better integrated into the plot, even the villain which this time is Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl) feels better. He starts off as a rather underwhelming villain but he slowly becomes better and better as the film progresses.

The film also feels a lot less politically charged than its comic counterpart which is much to the benefit of the film because it means the film won’t feel dated in years to come like the comic. It also means that the film’s ‘whose side are you on’ tagline feels a lot more apt that it did in the comic, which basically vilified the pro registration side throughout its entirety, here however, it feels better and more ambiguous. We are still supposed to be rooting for Captain America’s side but that doesn’t change the fact that the other side feels somewhat sympathetic, plus the film does not feel like an excuse to just have the heroes fight each other which is what the comic felt like. The one thing that really excels for me is all the characters. It is overloaded with characters, they all feel excellent, to such an extent if feels more like an Avengers movie than a solo Captain America movie. Don’t get me wrong, Captain America is the main character and we do follow him throughout the film and at a lot of points it feels like a sequel to Winter Soldier, especially the scenes with Falcon and the Winter Soldier and their camaraderie is rather interesting, in fact the camaraderie of both sides is rather interesting to begin with and it also does a good job introducing new characters and does them in a way that really endears you to them really quickly and gets out their motivations and their credence. As I mentioned before, we have Black Panther in this movie who is played by Chadwick Boseman who actually gets a similar story arc to this film in Ben Afleck’s Batman, but it feels like he has a more interesting progression and pay off than Batman and that was one of the positives to Batman V Superman. They do a fantastic job with him and I really enjoyed the character and I am looking forward to his upcoming solo movie, but the best new character of the film and probably the best character overall is Spiderman (played by Tom Holland), he doesn’t get a large amount of screen time but for the time he had they did expertly. This is without a doubt, in my opinion, the best live action Spiderman we have had to date. They get everything right, it doesn’t feel like he has too much of a purpose to be there except to fill up the numbers for Tony Stark’s side, but at the same time he doesn’t feel like he has just been put there to promote the upcoming Spiderman Homecoming movie which will be out next Summer. Marvel knew they had the rights to the character back and were determined to make the most of it and they do it to an excellent degree. I am seriously looking forward to Spiderman Homecoming on the back of this.

Civil War runs at a similar time length to Batman V Superman, it has a total time of 2hrs 27 mins including post credit scenes and actually that running time really works for the film because it has a lot to get out and it gets it out very well and the pacing is well done, so as a result the film never feels like a slog. It actually has some very decent twists, you may see some of them coming but I think they are pretty good, I won’t go into detail for obviously avoiding spoilers, but man, this film felt like it did a lot more in the 2hrs 27mins than Batman V Superman did. The film also feels very personal to the characters, which is again something the Russo brothers seem to direct very well. The ending, as always does wrap things up pretty nicely, but also sets up future movies as is per usual with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, oh and stick around till the end because there are two post credit scenes, one that adds a little extra meat to the end of the film and one that is the set up for the Spiderman Homecoming. What can I say, this plot had me gripped and it’s not too simple, but not too complicated at the same time. The only thing I will say though is that Zemo comes off as a bit weaker to begin with, but he gets stronger as the film goes on and by the end he feels like one of the best villains that the Cinematic Universe has had to date, though I still say the best villains so far have been Wilson Fisk from Daredevil and Killgrave in Jessica Jones as well as Loki of course. While I was a bit annoyed that Zemo did not have his villain costume from the comics it does make a lot more sense by the end, and also just having a villain there makes the plot a lot better than its comic counterpart. What can I say, it’s just really, really good.

As for the performances, there’s a lot to get through so I am just going to go through them and list them. Chris Evans was born to play this role, he is still excellent as Steve Rogers/Captain America, the same goes for Robert Downey Jr as Ironman, he is still fantastic and I am hoping he is going to keep it up for more of phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scarlett Johansson is still given a nice meaty role for this film and she does it to the best of her ability and she does a good job. Sebastian Stan is still pretty good as the Winter Soldier especially considering he gets a lot more to do in this film and he has a much more interesting character arc than in the last film. Anthony Mackie as Falcon gives his best performance of any MCU films to date, especially considering the last time we saw him he was getting thrown about by Ant-man, speaking of which, Paul Rudd’s back in the film and he is still brilliantly hilarious, likewise I really enjoyed Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye again and I still think Don Cheadle is good as War Machine. Emily Van Camp is an interesting new addition as Sharon Carter, niece of Peggy Carter from the TV series Agent Carter, despite the fact that she is not in the movie that much she does an alright job even if her part is not as well written as the others. Elizabeth Olsen is good as Scarlett Witch but I think she has lost a bit of her accent between movies, slightly distracting considering she had a much more pronounced Eastern European accent in Age of Ultron. Paul Bettany is continuing his expanded role as The Vision, though I think he gets a lot less interesting lines than he did in the previous films. Daniel Bruhl makes a good villain and William Hurt is very good as the Secretary of State. As for more newcomers, I really enjoyed Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and look forward to him continuing his role in the upcoming Black Panther solo film and my goodness, Tom Holland has blown it out of the water in his short time as Spiderman and has out done Tony Maguire and Andrew Garfield, seriously if anyone is worried about Spiderman Homecoming this has proved we are in good hands, hopefully the director can keep it up. Martin Freeman is in here but he’s basically a cameo and Marissa Tomei makes her debut as the new May Parker who does alright but doesn’t make too much of an impression.

As for the fight scenes, they are fantastic. They are all well choreographed, well thought out, there are a good mix of computers and great stunt work and the majority of them feel like they are well shot. It does feel like the camera is kept in too close a couple of times so we are not allowed to see much of the fight scenes but I still thought it was really good overall and when we get to the actual quote on quote ‘Civil War’ in the Airport in Germany it all feels like it has been carefully thought out, who is fighting who, at what point and makes the best use of their powers and abilities, especially true for Spiderman who gets some very inventive fight scenes. The fights make him a bit dialogue heavy but they even make a joke about it later on down the line, which by the way, if I forgot to mention, the dialogue is excellent in this film, but that is kind of becoming standard in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the moment (they even make a couple of jokes about it). Seriously the airport scenes alone are probably the best 15 minutes of fight scenes in any superhero movie and I don’t say that lightly. The effects are also fantastic, especially considering they have to juggle several different kinds of effects in one space, but again Marvel seems to be getting really good at that with two Avengers films under their belt and half the other cameos they seem to get in half the Marvel movies now.

I saw the film in 3D but I wouldn’t recommend doing so, there is very little actual really good 3D and it is very obvious that this was a post conversion. Even the Ant-man effects which were really great in 3D in the Ant-man film last year which I reviewed don’t feel brilliant in this one. I would say it’s worth paying extra for the 3D glasses to see the film in IMAX, because I think this film suits an IMAX screen, since the cinematography is fantastic, but for the 3D itself, it’s not great and you really won’t notice the effect throughout most of the movie.

Captain America Civil War is fantastic. The Russo brothers deliver one of the best Marvel movies to date, easily standing up with the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and the Winter Soldier. This has been everything that fans want in one place, the fight scenes are excellent, the plot is great, the dialogue is fantastic and it doesn’t spend too much time sequel baiting at all. There are a ton of characters and they are all used to good extent and feel relevant and the Russo brothers not only do this well, but make it look like it’s easy and that’s a feat that has only been pulled off by Josh Weedon in the past. If this is the team behind the Infinity War Movies, sign me up immediately because this film kicked ass. I think some fans might be taken a bit aback by the fact that there is not as much of the Weedon-esque humour in this film but it’s not entirely absent and feels like it has just the right amount in the movie. If you are a fan of the Marvel films I would say check this one out, if you are not that really in to the Marvel films then prior to this you should at least watch all three of the Iron Man films, both of the Avengers films and all three of the Captain America films. I know that is a lot but there are a lot of back story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point and it is kind of necessary viewing at this point.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe will be returning in November for Americans, we are getting it one week early, with Dr Strange and despite the fact that I am looking forward to it, I don’t think it is going to outdo this film because this has been one of the best films of 2016 so far if not the best.

As for the films I saw between this and Son of Saul, I saw three films, but I am only going to comment on two since I saw The Boy and The Beast at the flat pack film festival and as you know from my best of and worst lists, I don’t count film festivals releases when I measure up the year, plus I intend to give a review to Boy and The Beast when it gets its general release, just don’t go looking at my Twitter account as I forgot people can read that and I do give my thoughts on that page, oops. As for the other two:

I saw Friend Request and Bastille Day, neither of which have an American release date at the time of this review which should say quite a bit about the former considering it has a largely American cast and is set in the States though it is a German production. Yes, Friend Request is terrible, it’s a really awful run of the mill horror film, not just made worse because the last horror film I saw was The Witch, which is a fantastic horror film and probably the best in this genre in this decade, but it is also not helped by the fact that the film had a really interesting premise, but completely screws it up for the easiest lowest common denominator to appease a fickle audience. It has nothing but jump scares and blatantly ripping off other more popular horror films, to such an extent that they don’t even try to be subtle about it. Some of the scenes are so shot for shot you think they have plagiarised the Blair Witch Project and The Ring. As for Bastille Day, it’s ok, it’s not something you should rush out and see, but so far as turn off your brain action films go, it’s not that bad, with the exception of the twist at the end, so as a result the film completely rips off Die Hard.

“So what were your thoughts on Captain America Civil War or even the two films I mentioned above. Did your agree with me or not?”

I welcome all opinions, please leave a comment, and remember if you want to submit your own content please visit our how to submit section.

Well I ran a straw poll on my Facebook page, asking my friends and my Twitter followers to vote for the next review, since the films I wanted to review all had their release dates or DVD release pushed back, and they voted for “Bad Neighbours 2”, so come back on 13 May were I will be releasing my review of that.

Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and as Star Wars has been out on DVD and Blu Ray for a couple of weeks, have you seen it, and did your agree with my review of it?

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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