Sunday, 1 May 2016
Captain America : Civil War - a review
Let's cut to the chase. Is this the best Marvel movie ever? No. For me, Winter Soldier sits proudly atop of that pile, with Guardians in a very close second. It is, however, an excellent film and is Marvel's most mature entry to date. It is unafraid to tackle heavy duty issues, such as the consequences of the character's actions and the journeys they have taken.
In saying that, Tony Stark's story arc, through this film and the franchise as a whole, is proving to be the most interesting. We started out with a cocksure weapons maker who saw the light. Now we have a world weary Tony who is burdened with the bloodshed caused by him, directly or indirectly. It's not often we see a hero have to deal with the aftermath of his heroics but Robert Downey Jr does it with real depth. He's not a man getting stronger from his trials. He's getting more fractured by it, which makes him all the more fascinating. If talk of him being willing to do more Iron Man films is true, Feige should be tying him down to that contract ASAP.
Steve Rogers falls into the more predictable storyline. After tearing SHIELD apart in The Winter Soldier, structure instituted by politicians makes him suspicious and causes him to rely on the only thing he trusts, the friends he fought with, namely Bucky. For a man who is trying to do the right thing, he is willing to do a hell of a lot wrong to save his friend. It is what you expect of the man though, so no real surprises there. Bucky, on the other hand, offers a brilliantly honest appraisal of who he is and what he has become. Despite his effective innocence, he is still haunted by the evil he has been involved in.
Of the other characters, the Russo brothers give them all chance to breathe in this film, which has its pros and cons. Some of them are necessary. Black Panther steals the show with an effective introduction and motivation throughout. His standalone film is far too far away for my liking after this.
Scarlett Witch gets good time to develop but it does appear to be aiming towards a longer arc because it seems to serve little purpose in this specific film. The same could be said of Spider-Man, who is superbly played by Tom Holland. His contributions in the action sequences are immense fun but the exposition introducing him slows the film down. Again, it appears to be a way of cutting out the need of an origin story for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This film shouldn't be doing heavy lifting for other films and the pace suffers a bit for it.
It is nit picking to an extent because it is still a top notch film. Marvel have set themselves an impossibly high standard and are always more liable to fail by comparison. That shouldn't mean we dismiss their entries as bad. Captain America: Civil War will sit near the top of the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a long time and Feige is right to trust the Russo brothers with the Infinity War films. It is also a signal that it is time for a change of direction, as it is starting to feel a tad stale. With Doctor Strange looking like a complete left turn for the MCU, followed by the second Guardians film, I have no concerns that such a change is being implemented.
As for my favourite parts... the action sequence in the airport is outstanding. Creative and funny, all while exploiting the variety of powers around, it certainly wasn't a 'colour by numbers' scene. The thing I think should be commended though was how the stakes felt immensely high without any 'end of the world' scenario being involved. The final battle in this film is one of the most stressful things I have watched. I am talking up there with watching Bane batter Batman in The Dark Knight Rises. I remember feeling sick to my stomach, thinking "He's going to kill Batman!" Civil War put me in that same zone, which is to be commended.
Overall, Civil War is great film with tiny issues of pacing and, much like Age of Ultron, being weighed down with servicing the bigger MCU arc. Other than that, I think it lives up to the expectations. DC will be looking on and wondering why Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't get nearly as close to the mark as Captain America: Civil War did. With that said, it still doesn't feel like the stand out film of the year, nor the complete comic book movie we hoped for. X-Men: Apocalypse and Suicide Squad get to step up next. Game on.