SBox Recommends: Captain America – Civil War (Movie Review)

Note: SBR never spoils. You are safe. Enjoy!

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It’s strange how far we have come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Can you believe we have reached the point where we’re talking about the final Captain America movie? So strange. Though I have to admit, this particular Captain America movie goes a bit beyond being just a Captain America movie. This is the rising action of the Marvel story arc; the point where we’re no longer setting up the world and are now introducing the conflict. And what better way to introduce that conflict than with war?

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen superhero infighting in film. In fact the last one was just a few months ago, and caused a huge stir for reasons too numerous to list here. If the pressure wasn’t already on Civil War, it certainly was now. Alas, this is Marvel we’re talking about, here. Where there is Marvel there is usually a home-run and Civil War is no exception.

Story

Captain America: Civil War is the third Captain America movie and the thirteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, based on the Civil War comic book series.

The Avengers have tackled major threats in the past with usually unanimous praise, but no threat is more taxing to such a team than themselves. After a mission in Wokonda caused the inadvertent death of several innocent people at the Avengers’ hands, the world begins to wonder if the Avengers harm more people than they help. The incident brings about the Sokovia Accords, a UN mandate for all superhumans to register with the government and only act if and when the government allows them to. This bill forces them into opposing philosphical sides. Those with Iron Man believe such restrictions are necessary for the greater good, while those with Captain America consider this law morally compromising. The situation becomes exacerbated when the Winter Soldier reappears as a target of the government, wedging the team further apart.

Writing

While all Marvel films are action films, Marvel likes to tackle different subgenres of action from time to time. The Captain America trilogy, for example, borders much more on the side of political thriller, particularly with The Winter Soldier and Civil War. This style and direction has been proven to fit the Marvel mold flawlessly and that has not changed here.

Civil War is a fantastic story of conflict among friends, and a fantastic epilogue to the events of every Marvel film prior. They handled this situation with a ton of respect to each character, perspective and plotpoint. Not many action films are in the position to successfully initiate a divisive, hypothetical conversation such as this film does, and they nail it. The Team Cap and Team Iron Man dynamic is more than a promotional hashtag. It’s a representation of everything this movie stands for.

You can go into the movie with whatever presumed team you like, but odds are you’ll walk out with your stance more or less shaken. The film strongly imposes both perspectives instead of just saying Cap is right. Sure I was Team Cap going in and I’m still Team Cap, but no one can deny that Stark makes some excellent points- points that have actually swayed some fans toward his side. There are no bad points discussed throughout the movie, neither are there bad perspectives between characters. Everyone has a distinct reason for choosing their side. I love how Iron Man’s reason for siding with the Accords is different from Vision’s and how Vision’s differs from Black Widow’s and so on. Same with Cap’s side. There are even two sides of similar perspectives between War Machine and Falcon. It made the debate not only interesting but fun.

As for how the non-Avengers characters (each with subplots of their own) are implemented into this story, it’s impressively smooth. It never feels unnatural when the film introduces Black Panther or Spider-Man into the mix. Ant-Man’s insertion is very funny. And while the Winter Soldier was apparently never part of the comic, his involvement, I felt, was essential for this particular story.

Basically, everything fits very well and is told in a cleverly thoughtful and interesting way.

One final word of mention involves the movie’s tone. Marvel films are known to be very lighthearted, joke-heavy and upbeat, and so is Civil War in a way. However, I believe Civil War was the darkest Marvel film yet. This film feels a lot more tense than the other films, has fewer jokes and even ends on a somewhat uneasy note. It’ll probably appear jarring to those used to the Marvel style, but it’s a welcomed change that fits the intensity of the story.

Effects/Action

It’s a Marvel movie, so good use of CGI is pretty much a given. The CG characters tend to look just as good now as they did in past installments. The destruction scenes and explosions seem incredibly realistic. Overall, this film is no more or less impressive than any Marvel film before it. Nothing unusually impressive, but by no means terrible.

The only character I feel the need to mention in terms of effects is Spider-Man. After the initial shock and excitement of seeing Spider-Man in the recent Cap trailer, we began to critique Spidey’s oddly animated suit design, which I’m happy to report was implement better than I thought it would. It’s one of those things where the more you see it the less jarring it seems compared to the other characters. You quickly get used to it, especially when you see the suit in action.

Speaking of which, I have a new favorite action scene of all-time. People have no shortage of superlatives in describing the nerdgasm that is the airport battle sequence, but trust me when I say it’s deserved. Everything you wanted this movie to be is in this roughly 10-15 minute sequence. My personal favorite aspect was that it was very matchup heavy. While everyone usually gets punched by each opposing team member, many of them close choose to dart on just one character. I don’t want to spoil those matchups for you, but you’ll see what I mean.

The chase sequence with Black Panther and Bucky was really good, too. This scene plus the other action sequences surrounding that scene show the world what Black Panther is all about. It’s a fantastic demonstration of the character.

And the eventual final showdown between Iron Man and Captain America, without giving anything away, is brutal, emotional, tragic and fantastically jaw-dropping.

Acting

Like the effects, the acting ability in a Marvel film, especially with pre-established characters, is usually great. I won’t bore you by talking about every last character and how there performance is as good as ever. Instead, I’ll focus only on the main two stars and the new characters.

Chris Evans as Captain America pulls off a flawless performance. He has always found a way to up his game with each film he appears in by showing a new layer to Cap each time. You got a taste of his devotion to his friends in The Winter Soldier, but that aspect is fully realized this time around. As the continually commanding voice of reason among the Avengers, he garners sympathy and respect without even trying.

Speaking of stepping there game up, no one did that better than Robert Downey Jr. I say that because you are introduced to a totally new side of Tony Stark. It’s not your typical joke-heavy, optimistic Stark this time around. Oh no. This is a much more straight-laced, guilt-ridden, emotionally tortured Stark. He still makes the occasional witty remark, but those are few and far between. It’s a good kind of different, though, because this kind of story demands this more downbeat Iron Man. He is one of my favorite performances in this movie, especially when towards the end.

Daniel Brühl plays one of the film’s antagonists, Helmut Zemo, while Frank Grillo returns as Crossbones. Crossbones is admittedly not in the film for very long, but I found him enjoyable in the little time he was there. Zemo was in the film a bit more and is much more compelling than most non-Loki Marvel villains so far. Many will disagree and I see why, but his motivation alone sets him apart from past villains.

Chadwick Boseman enters the MCU as the now famous Black Panther. I was hoping to get gripped by this new character after all the buzz was favoring him, and that happened mere moments after he walks in the room. Black Panther is a beast, and is the best thing about this movie. He badass, sympathetic, determined and calculated all in one. Marvel is cruel for giving me this amazing character and making me wait two years until I see him again; and that is a very good thing.

Now we get to the major question of the film: Tom Holland. Spider-Man Version 3. Some of you may know that Spider-Man is my favorite superhero, and therefore I was hyped when he was announced for Civil War. All I did up to his first appearance was cross my fingers and hoped with all my heart that the movie gods make Tom Holland a good Spidey. And they delivered. Tom Holland was excellent, and I loved him as Peter Parker. This new take on him is a much less experienced and young Spidey with a more optimistic and innocent outlook than previous versions. Yet he’s still very wise-cracking with a ton of heart and no shortage of jokes. Thank you Russo Bros!

On a side note, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man was hilarious. This movie is made perfect with him in it.

Production Value

The music in this film is pretty good. Nothing extraordinary, but definietely very intense and grand. It certainly sets the mood especially towards the end with a loud and emotional score that could just as easily fit a Shakespeare production. It oozes tragedy.

In light of the film’s unusually drabber tone, this film even looks a bit darker at times. It’s an excellent cinematography cue to have started the film light, in-tuned to the Avengers films, and ended up with a darker scenery. It shows the distiguishability of this film from the light tone of the previous films. The film is also shot in-line with the style of The Winter Soldier thanks to the Russo Bros direction, which is great.

The cameras follow the action scenes fluidly with very smooth shots. I don’t recall any shaky cam for my squeamish friends, and the editing is perfectly paced with the scene. There is one very well-placed panoramaic shot in the style of The Avengers 1 and 2, and it’s the best thing any Marvel film will ever see.

Overall

Captain America: Civil War is one of the best comic book films ever made. That includes the MCU, the Avengers films, the Fox owned films, the Spider-Man series, the DCEU, the Nolan trilogy, the Superman films, you name it. Notice I say one of the best, though. It’s up there, before you get mad. In terms of the MCU, it ranks very high as one of my favorites on par with The Winter Soldier and a bit under the first Avengers. It’s a fantastic action movie and an excellent conclusion to the Captain America trilogy. More than that, it’s a gripping adventure through and through.

Verdict: 9.6/10

Recommendations

Marvel fans will obviously have to see this on principle. In fact, most fans have seen this film more than once by now. For non-Marvel fans, you can probably get into this film no problem, but it’s best appreciated after seeing at least Avengers 2. This film can and will appeal to all age groups as long as they have a passing interest in action movies. Captain America movies more than any Marvel film series has an unusually low barrier of entry due to its political/psychological thriller style. If you hate action movies, Marvel, or films leaning even a tad (and I stress tad) on the dark side, this isn’t for you.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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