“Captain America: Civil War”

“Captain America: Civil War”
Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

NEPgl8lumxKmSU_1_bFirst, an apology, to the tens…of you that read this blog. I had shoulder surgery about two months ago and I went to exactly one movie over the next six weeks, “Batman v Superman”, and that experience proved to be too painful to duplicate, both physically and, especially, emotionally. But with time and physical therapy, I am able to return to the theater! So expect a flood of reviews over the next couple weeks.

And so, to the task at hand…”Captain America: Civil War”…

Admittedly, I have a habit of reviewing Marvel summer blockbusters a little too quickly…when the sheen of color, 3D visuals and roller-coaster excitement is still way too fresh. As a result, I rave about how fun it is and how one shouldn’t miss it…only to come to the realization after two or three weeks, that it hasn’t stuck with me in any way…or worse…that it wasn’t really all that good to begin with. So I’ve waited…about a week…and…I gotta say…I think this one is pretty damned good. MUCH better than “Ultron” and possibly rivaling the original “Avengers” film.

The Russo’s took to heart the lessons given by “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Deadpool” and the aforementioned maiden film of the franchise…irreverence, irreverence, irreverence. You don’t necessarily lose stake by adding humor, and, while the subject matter is heavy, the dialogue is delicious…especially since they added Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, and a Bar Mitzvah-aged Spider-Man to the mix. Oh, the morose attitudes of Downey’s Iron Man, Evans’ Captain America, and Johansson’s Black Widow still persist, but they get their zingers in there when called for.

As for the main story.. one of my biggest issues with the Marvel/DC canon is that in every one, thousands of faceless civilians die as numerous buildings collapse, subway trains fly in to the sky (where one presumes they eventually fall back to earth) and neutron bombs, magnetic beams, and electric pulses wreak havoc on the human race…all with no seeming regret, or even acknowledgement, by the characters who caused it. This time, however, they, and the whole world, ARE aware and, even better, are held accountable. It’s a creaky story, to be sure, but I welcome the shift.

The acting is quite watchable, and sometimes really good. Chadwick Boseman is a wonderful addition to the Marvel bullpen, and Daniel Bruhl, as usual, is superb, this time as our villain. But what makes the film really go is Tom Holland’s cusp-of-adolescence Spider-Man. It’s nice to see a character not take their powers for granted. We WANT to know what it would be like to have superpowers…and not only do we get to live vicariously through someone discovering what those powers can do, that sense of discovery comes with the giddiness of a child. A great choice…and easily the best Spider-Man incarnation yet. The one misstep is William Hurt, I’m afraid. His ultra-method quiescence undermines the purpose of his character. Not bad, just brutally underwhelming.

The effects and action are typically magnificent…definitely over the top, never-ending and utterly unbelievable…but it’s a mile-high merry-go-round and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Henry Jackman’s score is your typical bombastic affair and, in no way, astounds. Which isn’t to say it isn’t serviceable and appropriate…it is. And, as a rule, it doesn’t get in the way.

Look, you either like these films or abhor them. Not much in between. So, if you like them, you’ll really like this one. If you are forced to go to make a partner or family member happy…I think you’ll really enjoy it. But if you dislike these films…this won’t necessarily be the one to change your mind. So far, only “Guardians” and “Deadpool” scale those heights.

Oh, you won’t find any of that humor or irreverence in any of the trailers…but…

Written May 15, 2016


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