Marvel's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Forces Audiences to Choose Sides

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Captain America Civil War

I've written and rewritten this first paragraph numerous times and can't seem to find what I want to say. But now I've got it: this review is brought to you against the best efforts of Charter-Spectrum, the worst internet service provider in the Midwest. If you enjoy paying full price for partial service, inept technicians, frustrating automated systems and bring harassed for weeks about not having their equally atrocious television service, give Charter-Spectrum a call today. Now, about Captain America 3...

MARVEL'S CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is the biggest Marvel blockbuster yet, really more of an Avengers sequel than a true follow up to the Russo Brothers spectacular CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Time for that time-tested tradition in the mighty Marvel manner...ROLL CALL! Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downeyn Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany) are all present and accounted for. Joining them are Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp). The bad guys are Crossbones (Frank Grillo) and Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) with the absent Hulk's nemesis General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) mucking things up as he usually does. Martin Freeman has finally escaped Shire only to be cast as Everett K. Ross, a footnote in the Marvel comic universe. Having two unrelated (as far as I know) Ross men seems silly--why couldn't they have cast him as Henry Peter Gyrich?

I'm going to skip the usual plot discussion because by now you probably already know what to expect. Something bad happens, Captain America and Iron Man disagree on the direction of the Avengers their friends take sides. Chaos ensures. The film is a bit bloated in the early going, with lots of plot threads and backstory battling for screen time. I will say that the basic conceit of the film, the thing that divides the Avengers, is a little different than what happened in the comics. I'm okay with that but by the end of the movie I found myself wishing I could pick my side all over--like most of us will probably feel this November.

What works? Black Panther and Spider-Man! Tom Holland is terrific as Spider-Man, nailing the perfect blend of Peter Parker's hero worship, rapidfire banter and new hero exuberance. I look forward to the next Spider-Man movie with this young man in the role for the foreseeable future. Chadwick Boseman's future is now. This guy is a megastar on the rise and Marvel signing him to be Black Panther is a brilliant but of casting. His upcoming Black Panther franchise should be nothing short of sensational. Paul Rudd still has a lock on his role as Ant-Man, bringing his tiny powerhouse back in a big way. Of the returning Avengers, everyone plays their parts well but Anthony Mackie really stood out. His role as Falcon is way more interesting than I'd expected and Mackie is prefect for the part, much as Downey and Evans are for Iron Man and Captain America. I'm trying to not delve too deeply into the plot to avoid spoilers but Chris Evans once again plays an excellent Cap, even though I'm not sure I'm on his side as the story plays out.

What doesn't work? Trying to squeeze too much exposition and backstory into two and a half hours. There are some funny moments when Tony Stark recruits Spider-Man but the entire scene is really unnecessary. Less is more. The big problem, of course, is that superhero fights are lame. Don't believe me? Ask Ben Affleck. There's never anything remotely heroic about it. With the multitude of exciting villains in the Marvel Universe it's a shame they don't use them. Shame they wasted Martin Freeman too. I was rather hoping he'd be in DOCTOR STRANGE with his friend Benedict Cumberbatch. The film gets bogged down here and there in exposition. I don't know why Hollywood constantly feels the need to try to explain everything. I don't care how Stark recruited Spidey. I don't need the details of every job the Winter Soldier did for the Soviets or how that all ties into Iron Man's past. I wouldn't have minded an appearance by Nick Fury, Phil Coulson or Daredevil though.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR isn't perfect. It's no BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE either. The Russo Brothers entertained me once again, despite tackling one of my least favorite comic stories and trying to do too much in one movie. It's rated PG-13 for violence and a little language. 

 

"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0