This review has been a long time coming. Well, as long a time as can be for a blog that started less than two months ago. One of my first reviews was for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A lot of comparisons can be made between that movie and Captain America: Civil War.
So I’ve actually gotten some requests to finally do a review from the other side of the aisle. Which is fine, there’s no reason not to do it other than how long ago I saw the movie. Which doesn’t quite hold water since I also saw Dawn of Justice months before I reviewed it. Recently Civil War came out on DVD, plus I’m currently on vacation and haven’t seen any new movies. So I decided now was the time to finally go back and give this movie the attention it deserves.
Yeah it’s… it’s real good. Real real good. Go watch it. You’ll almost definitely love it.
What? Why’re you still here? I did my review.
That wasn’t enough? *sigh* Fine.
In the aftermath of The Winter Soldier and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron the world has become a fairly messy place. The Avengers team is currently comprised of Captain America, Falcon, Scarlett Witch, Black Widow, and sometimes Iron Man, Warmachine, and the Vision. They run around the globe stopping terrorist and periodically super powered miscreants.
The problem is, people are getting a little upset about it. Every time the Avengers show up to save some civilians, some civilians still end up getting killed. Never mind the fact that it is always fewer people than would otherwise die, they’re still upset. The UN decides there needs to be more oversight of the Avengers to make sure all the proper steps are taken.
To this end more than a hundred countries have come together to ratify the Sakovia Accords. This would force super powered heroes to register themselves as part of the Avengers, who would then be administrated by a UN committee.
Captain America, good old Steve Rodgers himself, thinks this is a pretty crummy idea. The resulting fallout causes a schism within the group that sees nearly a dozen heroes chasing each other across the globe. Both new and old faces are thrown into the mix. Espionage and intrigue arise when the Winter Soldier, actually Steve Rodger’s best friend Bucky, is framed for committing an atrocity, kicking the conflict into overdrive.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, this movie is amazing. The plot is interesting and paced well, with completely believable actions from everybody involved. Nobody does anything crazy for bad reasons. The completely reasonable attitude so many of the main character have is frustrating in a really fun way. You’re left wishing one of them would be an idiot just so you have a reason to agree with the other guy.
But that doesn’t happen. Instead you’re constantly whipping back and forth between the two sides of the argument. Admittedly you spend most of the movie rooting for Captain America, but you never stop thinking that Iron Man has a point. Even to the end you want their to be a nice, tidy way for everything to get resolved so they can just all be friends again.
The acting is also top notch. It’s not that hard to believe, given the cast Marvel has managed to assemble after fourteen movies of a cinematic universe. Chris Evans feels like he was absolutely born for this role. Robert Downey Jr. continues to play Tony Stark so perfectly you’d think the character was based on his performance. All of the supporting cast does an amazing job as well, though Elizabeth Olson’s accent feels a bit transient at times.
Of particular note are Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland, who play Black Panther and Spider-Man respectively. Boseman captures the serious and ferocious tone of the character perfectly, while still managing to give him appropriate energy. And after two fairly failed attempts by Sony, Marvel manages to cast Spider-Man perfectly on their first try. Holland has exactly the excited attitude and excitement the character needs. His mid-battle jokes strike the perfect balance of quippy and youthful, giving the character a vibrancy he has yet to have. At the same time, his Peter Parker finally comes across as an appropriately adorkable nerd instead of just a super awkward grown man or a skater boy.
The fight sequences in the movie are also superb. The choreography of the close in hand to hand are fast paced and enjoyable to watch. All of the fights in the movie are personal and visceral. The last two Avengers movies had the team squaring off against endless hordes of cardboard robots. The extra heft is greatly appreciated this time around.
The airport fight scene towards the end of the movie is one of the most fun cinematic fights I’ve ever seen. I’m already willing to call it an iconic scene, so well does it capture the attention. There’s a massive cast of exciting heroes present and eager to punch each other completely senseless. And every single one of them gets the attention they deserve. All their powers are highlighted and shown off in cool ways. This includes a few that might catch you off guard and leave you excited.
Now that’s not to say that the movie is without error. There are a few small missteps I would be remiss if I didn’t mention.
To start with, a few characters do feel slightly off, either because of the writing or the acting. Tony Stark feels holier than thou and almost completely opposite how the character was before. It’s done deftly enough that it still comes across as believable, but it’s jarring nonetheless. Additionally, Scarlett Johansson continues to feel like she’s dramatically overacting. I’ll be the first to admit this could be a personal thing, as I’ve never enjoyed her acting.
The fights, while overall excellent and tightly executed, are prone to being overcut. There are a few dramatic moments in the film marred by being unable to really tell what’s going on. An example in the middle of the film sees Black Panther performing an elaborate takedown on the Winter Soldier. The whole maneuver takes three seconds to execute and for some reason there are four camera cuts. Cuts are supposed to help fight scenes look less choreographed. When they’re overdone we simply can’t tell what’s going on.
Additionally, some moments of the plot are a little hard to accept. They ask you to suspend your disbelief just slightly farther than you might be willing to. The entire airport fight, as brilliant as it is, could easily be subverted by both parties. The choices are obviously ignored in service to the epic fight, which is somewhat frustrating.
These complaints are small in the scope of the overall film. This is really an amazing movie. It’s enthralling to watch and fun to go back to a second or even third time. This is easily the best blockbuster to come out this year. It’s possibly one of the best movies this year period. If you haven’t seen it yet, you absolutely should. Even if you don’t like super hero movies and haven’t seen any of the others, you should still go see it. It’s that good.