Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Of all the Marvel movie franchises, it seems that the Captain America trilogy is the one that reigns supreme. Every Marvel movie has its ups and downs, with some being more entertaining and others lacking a deeper exploration of its central heroes. But when it comes to the first and second Captain America movies, I feel like we’ve seen a more solid, equalized blend of action and character growth. So I was curious as to how this next Marvel film would top the others. With a stellar cast, great directors behind the camera, and an interesting plot, my biggest fear was that film would be too convoluted and unfocused to live up to its potential. But thankfully, Captain America: Civil War lives up to the hype, being not only a great addition to the Captain America storyline, but also one of Marvel’s best features to date.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, this latest installment addresses the elephant in the room- collateral damage.  Let’s be honest, it’s fun to watch the Avengers fight off aliens in New York and defeat Ultron on a floating city on the verge of collapse. But we tend to forget that although our beloved heroes have saved thousands of lives, there were still plenty of lives that were lost. The United Nations respond to the death and destruction by drafting the Sokovia Accords, which dictates that the Avengers be under strict regulation by the government. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is pro-registration, arguing there needs to be oversight, while Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is against it, claiming that doing so means to surrender their freedom of choice. The tension between their two conflicting ideologies is what ultimately divides the team. But in truth, the idea of government supervision is only one piece of the puzzle. The war between former friends is also fueled by the devotion to friendship, the need for revenge, and the looming threat of the villainous Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl).

There are so many good things in Civil War that I don’t know where to start. The action is some of the best I’ve seen in a superhero film period. The fight sequences were so intense and were dispersed evenly throughout the film. Each fight is cleverly choreographed and filmed without shaky-cam (well, for the most part). You can just feel the impact of every punch, and the sheer brutality of the fight scenes mirror the characters’ emotional baggage. The film is a little over two hours long, but I was invested in every single minute of it. There isn’t a dull moment, and no scene feels out of place.

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Every actor in this film brings their A-game, especially the newcomers who make their grand debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chadwick Boseman is absolutely perfect as T’Challa/Black Panther, an African prince who seeks vengeance for his father’s murder. Not only is it great to see another POC superhero on the silver screen, but his fierce determination, sophistication, and ability to kick butt makes him such a strong and compelling character. Another highlight of the film is Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Holland’s portrayal of the web-slinger is unlike any other rendition we’ve seen before (there’s no origin story, thank god, and Parker is living with an infinitely younger Aunt May). He was funny, geeky, and tons of fun, just as he should be. His overall appearance looked very nice, but the CGI suit could’ve been rendered better. I’ve heard people complain that this Peter Parker is way too young. I completely disagree. Why? Well, maybe it’s because this is the first teenage Spider-man who isn’t being portrayed by an actor who’s in their thirties.

The rest of the actors do a phenomenal job in their roles as Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Rhodey (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Emily Vancamp and Frank Grillo also give good performances as Sharon Carter and Crossbones, even though they get less screen time. One of the most powerful performance comes from Sebastian Stan as Bucky/Winter Soldier. He’s appears very stoic as he attempts to piece his memory together, and yet he brings humor and personality to the character. Stan taps into the duality of the Winter Soldier, and his switch between emotionless assassin and a man who’s remorseful of his actions is heartbreaking.

The relationship between Steve and Bucky is as sweet as it is tragic. It adds to the heavy emotional weight of the film, contributing to the overall theme of loss and causing conflict for other other characters. The Russo brothers were also smart in not favoring one ideology over the other. There is no definitive right or wrong. Both Steve’s and Tony’s perspectives are understandable yet flawed, and, without spoiling too much, the film doesn’t provide a comfortable compromise.

While Captain America: Civil War is a fun and fantastic film, it still has a few flaws. The conflict between Stark and Rogers would’ve been enough to carry the film, but I guess there’s a rule that states for every hero, there must be a villain. Daniel Bruhl does a good job as Zemo, the official antagonist, but his character isn’t as strong a presence as he could have been. His very existence doesn’t severely downgrade the film, but he is one of the weakest links.

There’s a subplot concerning the possibility of there being more Winter Soldiers that literally goes nowhere. It’s built up as a significant plot point, but it leads to a dead end, thus serving only as a deus ex machina to get certain characters to a certain place. Also, the film regularly switches perspectives. Sometime it feels like less of a Captain America movie and more of an Avengers 2.5 or Iron Man 4.

Though despite the extra needless parts, the film still stands as an emotional powerhouse. It’s a cohesive work that furthers the characters’ arches as well as showcases the best qualities of each hero. It’s hard to tell whether Civil War is the best of the Captain America saga, since I feel that the second film, Winter Soldier, is more focused and doesn’t have as many unnecessary plot points. But what I am sure of is that Captain America: Civil War is a thrilling emotional roller-coaster ride from start to finish.

Cosmic Grade: 4.5/5 stars

 

 

 

 

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