The U.K and Ireland have the uncanny luck once again of receiving a Marval movie release before the US. And I can already see people foaming at the mouth at that very thought, but fear not all, you’ll see it very soon and get your chance to envision the hype on screen. For this review, there’s really only one spoiler I will be taking focus on, and for most it won’t even be a spoiler at all. So read ahead without fear!
To keep the synopsis simple, the Avengers have been through many world disasters now, each of which has led to civilian lives being lost. The world is now growing fearful of the enemies that the team’s existence is causing to surface and threaten security. An attempt is made to reel the Avengers team in somewhat, with this notion splitting the lead members Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) apart. The plot thickens and more fundamentally, the cause becomes more personal, forcing the two on paths that don’t co-exist easily. More than liberty and security are at stake, and there is only one result which this can all lead to…
Coming on the heels of the exceptionally solid “Winter Soldier” and the massively successful “Age of Ultron”, you couldn’t blame the team from feeling a bit of pressure to deliver. I mean, the hype behind this movie has probably only been matched by the first “Avengers” movie. And even though we are in a far different landscape to that release where Superhero movies are a printing press for revenue, there is still the constant fear that one movie will come along and mark the moment where the genre ceases to grow. So yeah… no pressure guys.
So it made sense for the team to use this time to bring in some new characters in order to freshen up the landscape, while also carrying on from the story of Winter Soldier, which is probably Marvel’s most critically-acclaimed film to date. Anthony and Joe Russo are back directing, while Kevin Feige returns to his familiar role as Producer. So, with all these pieces set in place, have they succeeded once again?
Yes. What, were you expecting a different answer? Of course they have succeeded! To back up this rush of conclusive thought, let’s start with the base story itself. It springboards quite nicely off of Winter Soldier as mentioned earlier, but also draws to light a world which is seeing the Avengers as a potential threat rather than just the last call for help. Widening rifts between the big characters is always a risky choice, but again it works well here since mainly, you can actually see the reasoning behind both points of view. Sure, both are driven by ultimately personal reasons, but after all, these guys are human. It isn’t as if Iron Man is some higher form of being, he is still working towards seeing his goals achieved. So when they are at odds and on the brink of ripping each other’s necks off, you can buy the emotions driving the conflict. And lastly, you have (to run a chicane around a major spoiler) a spanner in the works which has had the characters on strings the whole time. Bring these three aspects together… sound familiar? Maybe compared to a recent film you may have seen, just a small title called “Batman vs. Superman”.
Of course it was only a matter of time before I brought up Zack Snyder’s very lucrative, but ultimately-panned DC release. Having seen both it becomes extremely clear why one worked, and one didn’t. Well, actually there’s a Homer Simpson-sized To Do pile of reasons, but the primary being you care why the main characters are in conflict. Their reasoning has a basis, you can see why it has been building up over time and under intense pressure, has finally smashed above the surface. It gives you a reason to care for what is going on, and the collateral damage which is caused. This isn’t about being a fan of one side or the other – one team made a solid story while the other left too many unanswered questions which were integral to making the mechanics of the plot work.
But, let’s move away from that sticky Toffee Pudding of a subject, and on to the new characters. And here is the —SPOILERS— for the worst kept secrets in a Marvel movie.
And I can’t believe I am saying this…. but this is quite possibly the best character generation of Spiderman we have seen in a live action setting. I was floored by how fucking bang-on he was. His awkward, but likeable personality, his wish to simply do good, the costume, the comedy, the dry humour, it was all so delightful! He brings a lot of well-needed laughs and lightness to what is quite a serious story. As for Tom Holland? He was a brilliant piece of casting, and immerses himself into the character in such an effortless way.
The same can be said of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, though maybe not to such a dizzyingly awesome level. He is still an excellent actor here and gets some fucking bad ass moments. The costume is very unique and immediately stands out against the rest, and his motivations in the film, although being rushed along a bit too much, are solid. I’m very happy that he will get his own movie to help expand the character more. —END OF SPOILERS—
Moving on to one of the big selling point of any Marvel film – the action. And I’d be shocked if I was wrong in saying that the effects in here are better than those we saw in Age of Ultron. There, they looked rather rough at points, but in other areas simply glorious. The quality is certainly much more consistent in Civil War, the team seem to be mastering the effects for each individual superhero, so when you see all these effects on the screen at the same time, it is a moment to savour. I was very worried about the action getting tired during the 150-minute running time, but to be fair they do change the styles and motivations enough to keep each battle a bit different. The big mashup between the opposing sides is by a mile the highlight of the whole film, like the Battle of Gondor in “Return of the King” there is almost no end to the creativity in the fighting, or the cinematography that captures the fights from every level. Once shot with Ant Man is going to make fans of the character pass the hell out I reckon. There is just so much to talk about in terms of this which is positive.
And I can’t leave out the final battle, which for a Marvel movie is unusually brutal . I mean hot shit, the pure anger and betrayal that is being let off will have you squirm in your seats at times. I think it captures that sense of what a particular superhero would be like if one day they just snapped, and let all their built up feeling out at once. I’ll say no more since wow, writing about it will never do it justice.
The actual drama and story build-up feels very solid. It may be true that keen-eyes audience members will pick out where the plot will go from early on, but is still has some nice twists and turns along the way to keep people interested. I also applaud how the majority of the main characters are given some depth to their arcs. Sure, some just turn up for the brawl for, well, reasons. But hey, if we had that for everyone the film will be longer than there are hours in a day.
So with all that said, did I find any problems worth mentioning? I can certainly see the sheer number of character in the story making some feel a little over-whelmed. There are times where the plot gets a bit too busy, it is a natural effect of increasing a cast beyond a critical point. Most won’t have problems since they’ll enjoy all the characters, old and new. But I should bring this up nonetheless. As I mentioned earlier, the build-up for Black Panther’s arc was a bit rushed. The end of the film kind of has the same issue with temp too, where it tries to wrap everything together in a time lapse where they could have added another two minutes. But, I don’t know… at this time and point nothing sticks out as being a terrible story choice, or significant in stature. Well, the location screen titles were kinda’ dumb, didn’t need to be that big.
We have all been waiting long for this one (some still waiting), but “Captain America: Civil War” seems to deliver on the promises it made in those trailers. The action is bombastic and intense, the new additions are fantastic, and the effects seem to get better and better with every movie. And after what we saw in BvS, it brings into the clear light of day what was needed to make that work, and why what was done here worked so fucking well. Everything had a sense of traceable quality to it, from the script to the set designs and globe-trotting locations.
Like “Winter Soldier”, it meets the expectations you had going in, while throwing in some surprises you weren’t. The actors work brilliantly with each other and feel very seasoned now. To be honest, this is right up there with being the best effort by Marvel’s live action division. I’ll definitely find myself watching this again and again in the future.
Thanks for reading!