Captain America: Civil War

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action
Release Date: May 6, 2016


Movie Review - 'Captain America: Civil War'

by Adam Pavlacka on May 6, 2016 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

With many people fearing the actions of super heroes, the government decides to push for the Anti-Hero Registration Act, a law that limits a heroes actions. This results in a division in The Avengers.

Iron Man may have lit the fuse that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but it has been the Captain America films that have been consistently among the best of what Marvel has to offer. "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) introduced us to Cap, while "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014) explored some of the challenges that Cap faced while living in our generation. "Captain America: Civil War" keeps the personal focus on Cap while ramping up the action to 11.

Just as they did in "The Winter Soldier," the Russo Brothers keep the core motivations of Cap (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) as the driving force behind the story. Yes, there are some epic fights, including one blow-out battle royale that makes everything in "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" look like small potatoes, but strip away the spectacle, and the real conflict here isn't between two opposing sets of super powers but rather two opposing belief systems.

The schism between Cap and Iron Man builds organically over the events of the film, which allows the conflict to feel real rather than forced. Neither one is doing what he does out of jealousy or rage but because each one feels that it is the "right" way forward. The core of the conflict is at an ideological level, making it all but inevitable. With that said, just when you think you have it all figured out, the film manages to subvert some of that reasoning with well-placed story elements.

While Cap and Iron Man are the focus, "Civil War" doesn't skimp on the supporting characters. Ant-man (Paul Rudd), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Spider-man (Tom Holland), Vision (Paul Bettany) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) all make appearances, and each is given plenty of time to shine. These aren't just quick cameos; all have character-building moments that are important to the story told in "Civil War" as well as to the future of the MCU as a whole. Decisions that are made here will reverberate throughout future Marvel films.

A decision that you'll have to make as a theatergoer is whether or not to see "Civil War" in 3-D. If you're planning on seeing it on a regular screen, you can probably pass on the 3-D, as the effect isn't anything special. However, if you have access to an IMAX theater, then IMAX 3-D is the way to go — not for the 3-D effect so much as the IMAX size. The airport battle, which is teased in the trailers, is absolutely worth seeing in IMAX.

One nifty piece of casting includes William Hurt reprising his role as Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross from "The Incredible Hulk" (2008). In the grand scheme of things, it's not a huge role, but it does play a key part in the story and provides a nice callback to one of the early films in the MCU.

It's also worth calling out Tom Holland's take on Spider-man, with Holland simply nailing the part. This may be the most comic-authentic take on the character yet, as far as attitude and physicality is concerned. Holland gives us an enthusiastic, if somewhat naive, hero who only wants to do right by the world. His enthusiasm shows up on the screen as Spider-man being unusually chatting during combat. It's infectious, and it works. One of the best back-and-forth bits of dialogue has to do with Iron Man realizing how young Spider-man actually is when the latter refers to "The Empire Strikes Back" as "that old movie."

Humor is sprinkled throughout "Civil War," with some of the biggest laughs being visual rather than verbal. What makes it all work is the pacing. "Civil War" doesn't just run breathlessly from one action sequence to the next; it spends time on character building, segues into a high-octane action sequence and then relieves some of the tension with humor. It's a basic cycle, but one that the Russo Brothers handle quite well.

Where "Civil War" could have done a little better is with its villain. Like many comic book villains, his plan is contrived. That isn't the main issue, though. The problem is that the master plan seems to rely a little too much on coincidence and luck. Someone who hates the Avengers that much would surely focus on a plan that didn't have so many wildcards.

Ultimately, "Captain America: Civil War" provides a great cinematic experience, no matter how you watch it. It works as a stand-alone film, as the third film in the Captain America trilogy, or as one of the top-tier MCU films.

Score: 8.5/10

"Captain America: Civil War" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 26 minutes. It is showing in 2-D, 3-D and IMAX 3-D.

Editor's Note: Like most Marvel films, "Civil War" features bonus scenes after the credits start to roll. There are two different scenes here: One occurs shortly after the credits start, and the second does not appear until the very end of the credits. If you leave early, you'll miss out.

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