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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain America: Civil War is the culmination of the Avenger and Captain America films. As soon as Civil War was announced, it was my most anticipated Marvel film, much more so than Age of Ultron at the time. The Civil War story has the potential to really hit hard emotionally and thematically by saying something meaningful and creating conflict between everyone's favorite two superheroes. And with all of that hype and pressure, can Civil War possibly succeed? Let's find out!

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Genre: Action, Comic Book, Drama, Sci-Fi,
Release Date: May 6, 2016
Running Time: 147 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Thematic depth, Clash of ideologies, Emotionally riveting, Understandable motivations, The airport battle is literally the best superhero throwdown ever, Spider-Man is absolute perfection, Balanced characters, Stunning visual effects, Superbly choreographed action sequences, Shocking plot twist, Friend against friend, Hilarious dialogue, Perfect tone, Consequences, Strong conclusion, Black Panther is great, Exceptional performances across the board, No "right" side,

The Bad: One small plot convenience, maybe (requires rewatches to confirm),
Plot: 10/10- Captain America: Civil War presents the audience with two opposing ideologies and neither side is strictly in the "right." As the film continues, you might even switch sides at points depending on your own ideals. It brings up meaningful themes on government control and various other issues, which are brilliantly weaved into the narrative and character motivations. Captain America's reasons for fighting are understandable, and Iron Man's reasons are also understandable. And there truly is a war between the two and the supporting cast's reasons for choosing each side makes sense. Motivation is key and Civil War executes that perfectly. Some might have issue with the antagonist, but even his motivations are also reasonable, so it worked.

After some riveting action, Civil War’s pace does slow down. Personally, the pacing is superb because all of the dialogue sets up the characters, presents ideals, and makes you care about the impending battle and conflict. Each plot point moves fluidly, even the Spider-Man introduction, albeit slightly less so. The Russo Brothers do an incredible job balancing the screen time, and despite the darker, more serious, tone, the humor is naturally inserted throughout the film. 

Characterization: 10/10- Despite Iron Man and the various supporting cast, Captain America still shines as the main character. His friendship with Bucky, aka Winter Soldier, is moving. There is such a strong sense of brotherhood between the characters, which drives the narrative. Of course, Iron Man is brilliant. There is so much character development packed into his screen time. Tony is shaken; he is troubled, and his actions reflect that. Seeing Tony and Cap and the rest of the cast battling is enthralling and packed so much emotional weight. Towards the end, the film's emotional impact is brutal because the characters' relationships are so well established, so real; it's stunning. Ultimately, Cap and Tony's actions are driven by personal reasons that I can sympathize with, which is not easy for a movie to accomplish. Neither side is ever the "villain," and it just works.

As for the supporting cast, each character is given their time to shine. Spider-Man is absolute and utter perfection. As a Spidey fan, in less than 10 minutes, Tom Holland won me over 100%. He's funny, witty, and awkward. He is a teenager, and he acts like it. Honestly, I had a bit of a geek heart attack at seeing Spider-Man alongside the MCU characters. Black Panther is seamlessly included in the story without a hitch, as his character drives plot points. Falcon, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and the rest of the cast is given just enough time for each character to shine.

Direction: 10/10- The Russo Brothers are masters at their craft. The airport fight scene is unquestionably mind-blowing. It might be the most impression action sequence ever in film, and definitely the best in a superhero flick. The choreography and the inventive use of powers are stunning. It will be a battle that goes down in movie history.
My only visual criticism is that the fight sequence earlier in the film with the Winter Soldier features a few too quick cuts and the 3D made a few seconds a little blurry. Otherwise, the action sequences are superb.

The Russo Brothers' cinematography creates a strong sense of realism. Even though superheroes are throwing around their insane powers, everything looks grounded, which fits the tone. The usage of more practical effects and stunts certainly helps.

Acting: 10/10- Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. obviously take center stage. While you would expect Downey to overpower the cast, Evans remains the focus and the remainder of the cast feels well balanced. Sebastian Stan continues to play an excellent Winter Soldier, and Chadwick Boseman nails Black Panther so well. It cannot be expressed enough, Tom Holland is a Spectacular Spider-Man! And everyone else in the all-star cast hits the mark 100%.

Special effects: 10/10- Marvel movies always deliver stunning visuals and Civil War is no exception. The use of more practical effects compared to The Avengers certainly helped the sense of realism, and many scenes left me wondering what was stunt work and what was computer generated.

Soundtrack: 8.9/10- Henry Jackman's score is the only lacking aspect of the film. It is certainly quite good, especially during the film, but nothing stands out. However, as I listen to the score on its own, my opinion might change.

Humor: 10/10- Despite being a more serious film, Civil War mixes in the perfect amount of humor. Spider-Man is hysterical, Tony is witty, and Ant-Man is way too funny. The Russo Brothers and the screenplay writers really know how to balance the humor and banter, which makes me even more excited for how the Russos will handle Infinity War.

Entertainment Value: 10/10- Captain America: Civil War is one of the best cinematic experiences I have ever had. It is right there with The Force Awaken, and I wanted to see it again as soon as I walked out of the theater. Marvel movies have always been entertaining, but Civil War is on a whole new level.

Overall: 10/10- Captain America: Civil War is near perfection. Emotionally resonate, thematically deep, and insanely fun, it is everything that we needed. Civil War marks a darker chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with consequences that will impact future films, yet it ever loses the joy that Marvel does best. Captain America: Civil War is the Empire Strikes Back of the MCU, a perfect conclusion to the Captain America trilogy, and Marvel's greatest film to date.

Closing comments: My review cannot possibly do justice for how truly brilliant Civil War is. Every other movie this year has a tall order if they want to top this masterpiece of a superhero flick.

Recommended for: Everyone, Marvel fans, Action fans, Sci-Fi fans, Superhero fans,

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17 comments:

  1. This movie was basic perfection in my eyes. Every note was hit right, every character felt used right, the emotion I felt was incredible watching this. We're so lucky to have had such a trilogy climax, having been built on so many movies, pay off SO DARN WELL. JUST OH MY GOSH, THIS FREAKING MOVIE. AJSKDLFAJS;DFJKALS;DFJKLA;SJFDKL;ASJFKLDAJSKLDFJALKSDJFKLASJDFKLAJSDKFLAJSKLDFAJSKLD;FJALS;DJFKLASJDFKLA;JSDKFLAJSKDLFJASKLD;FJALSKDJF;
    AND SPIDER-MAN. I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO COLLAPSE OUT OF YOUR SEAT WHEN WE READ "QUEENS" OFF THE SCREEN, IT WAS SO AWESOME FEELING THE HYPE TOGETHER.

    Excellent review, this movie is definitely one of, if not Marvel's best film to date. But I think it also speaks to Marvel's track record of creating such a wonderful set up of films to lead to such a showdown of heroes and clash of ideals and character conflict. ALL BOW TO MARVEL-SAMA!!!!!! ;) XD

    ~Jamie

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    1. Thank you Jamie! And yep, Marvel can do no wrong. :)

      -James

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  2. One Issue. The big white letters that kept appearing at the bottom of the screen to tell the viewer where the scene was set. Minor pet peeve. "Oh no, I thought that was a water truck."

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    1. I am assuming you're not joking, but do you mean it was hard to read? I can't specifically recall the on screen text other than "Queens." But you are probably right. And yes, great scene!

      -James

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    1. I would say yes, I liked.... haha.

      -James

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  4. Well...This movie made me a half-marvel fan. By half I mean I still think there are too many of these movies coming in the future. That said, Civil War was the first superhero movie by which I did not feel let down. In fact I loved it and watched it twice in theaters (something I don't do) and could at the time see myself going back every week if my income could have handled it...So it's safe to say it's one of my all time favorites.

    And did anyone take note of the fact there was no title card shot in this film? I think this will start a trend of missing title cards, which will visibly imporove the flow of future action movie openings...

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    1. Wow, I'm glad you finally found a superhero movie that you could truly enjoy! That reminds me of your various comments throughout the last several years about how most of them were a let down. But that's great JT!

      And oh, good catch. You are right though. It did flow better. Thanks for the comment!

      -James

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  6. I take it that you like the movie, well, I like it too. The only issue is that the title should have been renamed to Avengers: Civil War. I definitely agree with you, Civil War is Marvel's own Empire Strikes Back.

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    1. Well, it is ultimately about Cap and Bucky's arc, so I still think it fits with the Cap films, but I see your point. Thanks for commenting!

      -James

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  7. Great review! Agreed, this movie was awesome and definitely one of the best Marvel films so far. While I sided with Iron Man more-so (though, mainly the accords idea), I liked that neither side was 'evil'. I also really enjoyed Black Panther's character and I can't wait to see his film (also loved that he was the moral center of the film in the end). I also agree about Tom Holland's Spider-Man; he is now my favorite actor to play the role. Scarlet Witch was amazing as always and I look forward to seeing more of her. Oh, and Ant-Man was hilarious XD

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    1. Thank you very much! And yep, there is no "wrong" side. Both sides have their points that can appeal to each viewer differently, which is what made it so great! And yes, Black Panther was so well done! And Spidey too! Glad you enjoyed the movie too and thanks for commenting. :D

      -James

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  8. Good review James -- I'm glad you liked it so well! I agree with your thoughts on Bucky and Sider-Man! Definitely my two favorite thing about this movie. I also really appreciated the Russo's direction of the action. It doesn't get better than that! Although I personally didn't enjoy the airport battle any more than the other smaller sequences -- besides the fact that Spidey was there. ;) As you know we disagree on quite a few things, but I won't point anything out. I'm sure you understand my viewpoint well enough, and I wouldn't change yours if I could. :D

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    1. Thank you Sarah. :) Yes, the Russo Bros did a great job in the direction. And yes, Spidey was great! And yep, we can agree to disagree, which is what makes reviews so much fun sometimes! :D Thanks for commenting Sarah. :)

      -James

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  9. Great review James! I thought Civil War was perfect. The Russo brothers are fantastic. A "geek heart attack" haha that's perfect. :)

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    1. Thank you! And yes, pretty much perfect! And thanks. :)

      -James

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