13 May, 2016

[Movie Review] Captain America: Civil War

poster from io9

Captain America: Civil War is the long awaited continuation of the superheroes within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). A semi-direct sequel to Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War features the current Avengers team minus Bruce Banner (Hulk, last seen flying towards the atmosphere in the jet) and Thor (current location uncertain) though both should be returning in Thor: Ragnarok next year. Still, this movie isn't lacking on the superheroes. If you haven't seen the movie yet, I'm going to warn you now there will be spoilers below the cut so read at your own risk.

The movie features a number of interesting hooks starting off with what appears to be a mission by the Winter Soldier in December of 1991. Though watchers aren't privy to what's going to happen the film doesn't focus on it for long skipping ahead to the modern day Avengers on a mission. Captain America, Falcon, Black Widow, and Scarlet Witch are all together still, working to stop a criminal from releasing a biological weapon. It's implied that they've been chasing him for a while, though if the character was shown in the last few movies, I don't recall. He was rather non-memorable. The fight scene that ensues is a decent one, though there is a lot of a technique called 'shaky cam' where the camera moves shakily along with the actors. Useful if you want to stretch out a fight scene but there's almost too much of it at times making it difficult to focus on the actions. Disaster happens, namely Scarlet Witch trying and not quite keeping a bomb from exploding and accidentally killing a good dozen or so people.

Given that the Avengers have had free range for the past four years and seem to have little idea where the two strongest members of the team are; the governments of the world have called for a meeting to ratify the Slokovia Accords, a set of rules stating that the Avengers will become a government run organization. Obviously, not everyone is completely on-board with the idea, creating a fissure between the team with Iron Man wanting to sign onto the Accord and Captain America feeling that it will limit the Avengers power. The rest of the movie examines the idea of whether or not it's right or wrong, with Tony trying to protect people and Steve trying to find the truth. In the middle of everything, Bucky Barnes turns up again having been framed for the bombing of the United Nations Meeting to ratify the Accords. 

Introduced within the movie is Black Panther, one of the most badass characters of the all times. Driven by revenge, T'Challa spends the first half of the movie chasing after Bucky, fighting with anyone who gets in his way. Given that his suit is both bulletproof and features claws made of Vibranium (same stuff Cap's Shield is made of), Black Panther has a distinct advantage over most of the people he comes up to fight with. The main fight scene where everyone is present features a number of previously seen characters including Vision, War Machine (Rhodey), Antman, and introduces Tom Holland as Spiderman. Excellent in his portrayal of a teenager superhero, Holland offers a fair number of one-liners that leave the audience laughing though the entire fight is pretty good for non-sequitur one liners if you want to have something funny to quote at people. 

The subjects of jealousy, revenge, and what's right and wrong pop up a fair amount throughout the rest of the movie. The movie beautifully shows that even when people make up there's always a bit of tension, not just an instant "we're friends again, everything is completely fine" mentality. Beautiful screenplay writing, dramatic use of close-ups, and a cliff-hanger ending leave the universe wide open for more movies to coming including the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), a stand-alone Black Panther (2018), and Doctor Strange (2016) that's coming in the fall. All of these of course, will lead up to the next Avengers Movies - Avengers: Infinity War Parts I & II (2018, 2019). 

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is a decent installment in the MCU though there are a number of glaring flaws. One is the continued backstory of Wanda Maximoff who was changed Jewish-Romani mutant to a more ethnically cleansed version who gained her powers through Hydra (comparable to Neo-Nazis). While the explanation for her powers had to be changed due to copyright (the rights to X-men and that part of the Marvel Universe still belong to 20th Century Fox), the change to what her current incarnation is less than stellar. (Also there was the needless death of Quicksilver in the previous Avengers movie.) The movies contains a fair amount of shaky cam, especially during the fight scenes, and some things felt a bit confusing (the additional plot of five other super-soldiers who in the end weren't important at all).

Last impression is this, if you enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you'll probably enjoy this movie, just don't expect it to match up with the Comic Universe. Three and a half stars out of five.

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