Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely 

starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Sebastian Stan

genre: Action | Comics

released: 28 April 2016 (Australia & Germany), 5 May 2016 (Greece), May 2016 (USA)

As the Marvel behemoth continues to grow, it will try to find new ways to out best itself with every film that comes and essentially find ways to stay relevant to mass movie audiences. In this regard, I don't doubt their methods or execution in accomplishing that. However, it's the little things that bother me and make me believe they are too caught up in their own success story. As they haven't made the extra effort of fine tuning some of their constant downfalls or really go the next step in what is to make the ultimate comic book film.

story:

After the events of Sokovia and the death of many innocent people, the world has looked at the Avengers actions with a different light. Leading the world governments through the U.N. to pressure the superhero team to sign the Sokovia accords or else be considered common criminals.

This decision splits the team in half with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) supporting the U.N. commissioned plan and Cap (Chris Evans) leading the opposition. If this weren't enough, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) Captain America's old friend and past Soviet controlled assassin 'The Winter Soldier', has been thrown into the mix as a pawn to a bigger plan and framed for an attack on the U.N. Splitting the group even further with friendships at stake and secrets yet to be revealed.

thoughts:

As the film progressed, I was worried there wasn't going to be any major surprises or twists and that the influx of hero on hero action would be everything to it. Thankfully, that wasn't the case and the intensity of certain events was played up, but not to the full effect that everyone may have desired.

Overall, where the film managed to succeed is first, in its ease with a short amount of time due to the large array of characters to build a connection amongst them, while also certain sub groups. Such as the team connection between Cap, Bucky and Falcon and the eventual divide between Cap and Iron Man, while also the chemistry between Vision and Wanda. Then to additionally have action scenes, especially those at the end where it has all the moments that will satisfy audiences in terms of scale and surprise. While also the plot development and character motivations all making perfect sense and never conflicting with what the characters stands for or from a story stand point. Great examples of this is the villain's motive that is reasonable according to the events in the previous films and even the U.N. actions. Where they just want to appease the masses that the law will be followed and that masked vigilantes can't just operate whenever or wherever. In this the writers did a masterful job, with Marvel really being on top of their game making the events push the characters into new world orders and divisive situations.

Where all the mentioned may be more than enough for many of the fans out there, for others including myself it isn't. As maybe it’s the fact that the comics (source material) spoiled us too much in providing a truly great story, where things came to an impasse and changed the Marvel comic book universe forever. But that sort of impasse could never come to be in the film universe and even though the film sort of did have its big moment, it wasn't quite the same or as heartfelt as we would have hoped.

Unfortunately, the troubles don't lie only there. As the rest of the production's handling of certain events wasn't at the level that we should expect it to be. Such as the overdrawn action scenes in the beginning and middle of the film, that could have been trimmed and added less to the film compared to the endings action set pieces. As its best to savor the action for the end, while also not getting action fatigue by the time you reach it. Additionally, the Bucky chase scene in Germany had its moments but once the running under the bridge started and Bucky was suddenly super speeding and jumping distances that he couldn't possibly make, my disbelief just couldn't let it go. As far as I remember in the comics and in the film, Bucky doesn't have the superhero serum in him, so how he managed do all those things is beyond me. Nit-picky maybe, but not obvious to a fan of the comics and a little too much to accept. Also, Black Panther may have had some really out there moves and acrobatics, but they were mostly ruined because it was all CGI and not with an actual professional doing them. This should have been something they payed more attention to compared to Daredevil's fluidity in the cheaper production that is on Netflix. Not the same level of quality, even though you spend more money.

Furthermore, let’s get to the Cap villain issue and they're overall lack of despicableness. As a big Cap fan, I always loved the contrast between him and his arch nemesis bad guys. How patriotic and idealistic Cap would be and how vile and ruthless his villains were. However, when the first Cap film came along, Red Skull was a one-dimensional character and not crafty or viscous to the point you hated him. He just was an unexceptional cool looking villain, that's it. Second film came around and Robert Redford was the bureaucratic villain that just wanted a new world order, just cause. No extreme opinions on humanity, no mention on the fact that Hydra is Nazi organization, everything was just left to him being a villain that's it. Third film now comes along and Baron Zemo a Nazi in the comics is now not a Nazi, not a proprietor of crushing human spirits, he is just a man on a mission of revenge. Not that it doesn't work in the film, but why is it three films in a row and Cap hasn't had a full-fledged Nazi villain where Cap could spute a monologue along the lines of "I will never let you thugs try to run the world again". Is it too much to ask Marvel?

To get back to point, certain things may be enough for some fans, but this isn't the case for all. As this is pretty much due to the dissatisfaction with Marvel Studios failing to deliver on its titular baddies and focusing a little too much on the action especially in the beginning of their films, instead of spending the time focusing on character oriented motivations and arcs. While also the fact that they fail to reach the heights of the comics or create new ones on the big screen. And while there might be one thing that makes this film special as mentioned in one of the previous paragraphs but I will not mention as it is a spoiler. Would have been an even grander moment if Tony Stark and Steve Rogers had a longer lasted and more invested relationship throughout the Marvel films. Because two Avengers films weren't enough to signify that they were best friends besides war buddies.

verdict:

This film won't find many haters, on the contrary it has found many fans and critics applauding it for being the best in the series and a sort of rekindling of the superhero genre. Something that I beg to differ with, as it may please us with its fanboy moments and well handling of comic book material to more serious and adult heights. However, that's not the whole film and I'm not going to let it off the hook for continuing past mistakes and not raising the bar by making a superb production from start to finish.

Personal Rating:

review by Paul Katsaros

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