Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Film Review

Captain America Civil War Movie PosterCaptain America: Civil War

Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr.

Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo

IMDB Rating: 8.3

The latest Marvel blockbuster signals the start of Marvel’s Phase 3 of global cinematic domination. Many people have called this – the thirteenth Marvel film – the best Marvel movie yet, but can this really be considered a classic simply through action scenes and special effects?

Civil War brings the majority of the Avengers together again, plus a few extra superheroes. While the Avengers are on a mission in Lagos, Nigeria, they end up causing incredible amounts of damage while successfully capturing criminals. Scarlet Witch, while protecting Captain America (Evans) from an explosion, inadvertently throws the explosion into the side of a hotel, causing major casualties. The world considers this the last straw, and issues the Sokovia Accords. This is a document, agreed upon at the UN and signed by 117 countries, that forces the Avengers to work under the supervision of a panel. They are asked to either sign and agree to only work when called upon instead of the free and reckless way they do now, or don’t sign and retire. This document stirs up a lot of debate between the group, split at a head by pro-signing Iron Man (Downey Jr.) and con-signing Captain America. The group end up splitting into two teams on opposite sides, forced to fight each other for what they believe in. Meanwhile, a new villain emerges with his own reasons for wanting the Avenger’s destroyed, who targets Captain America’s close friend Bucky.

I don’t think it is offensive to say that Captain America is simply a string of action scenes. Yes, the plot is a really good premise, and the story by the end was actually quite good despite feeling laboured at the start. It was as if the plot needed that first big fight to really get it going. But when those fights come, boy does this film get good.

The main action scene (the one at the airport that everyone wanted to see) was almost worth the price of admission in itself. It was excellently choreographed, and although how some of the side characters were dragged in, and how little time and development they had, feels a little ropey they all contributed massively to what was an excellent five/ten minute spectacle.

On a slight down note, this was one of very few points in the film that I thought got the balance between fun and action correct. At the beginning especially, Captain America seemed to feel the need to force some wisecrack or half-assed comment into the film for a cheap laugh. It felt very forced and cheesy, and at one point I referred to it in my head as very ‘Marvel’. Past the major fights it went back to being a serious film and I think that’s where it should have stayed throughout, minus the fight scenes of course.

The acting throughout the film was solid, although there’s so many actors it was impossible for anybody to truly stand out. They all appeared to be on a similar level, and also seemed to have great chemistry between them.

If I was forced to rank these actors I think the first one that jumps out at me is Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, who’s really only a side character but I found myself really paying attention to him whenever he was on-screen thanks to an honest and heartfelt performance. I think similar compliments can also be paid to Anthony Mackie as Falcon, who again turned a side role into one of the main events of the movie. On the other side of the coin, I’m not sure how I felt about Scarlett Johansson’s performance. Something was off, and I’m not sure what it was but she didn’t seem to suit the character at all, nothing like how she first looked in the original Avengers. It lacked a lot of character, and I feel like she ended up being nothing more than an object to help carry the plot along.

I think it was good directing throughout here by the Russo brothers. The two of them seemed really confident to me. They seemed to have a clear picture of how they wanted each shot, each scene to play out and the story followed the path they set out for it. It was good to watch because you got the impression you were watching their film, and feeling exactly what they wanted you to feel.

Civil War also appeared to be shot slightly different form recent blockbusters I’ve seen. Now I’m no expert on frame rates and the sort, but it did appear that this film – or the action scenes at least – were shot slightly differently. All the special effects seemed really clean and smooth, and were shot really nicely with good choreography throughout.

Maybe this new fancy shooting played a role in some of the quite obvious errors in cutting that seemed to show up in this film. There seemed to be two or three times where people were landing on different body parts, for example. These are the only blotch on what was otherwise extraordinary action sequences, but still are not something you expect in a billion-dollar movie.

Overall, there’s definitely just cause to say this is the best Marvel movie yet, and I think I would just about agree with that statement. The same old balance between fun and action is, while being considerably better than the greyness of DC, starting to feel quite boring and repetitive now. However, Marvel films are – and will continue to be – saved and then some by action scenes and an enjoyment factor strides ahead of anyone in the movie business right now.

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