Sunday, May 08, 2016

Captain America-Civil War Review: Civil Discourse

Whenever a comic book based film boasts a lot of super-powered characters I cringe because that usually means that the folks in charge intend to burden plot with spectacle rather than a good story. Thankfully the team responsible for Captain America: Civil War do a great job at balancing both. The 3rd phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets off to a rollicking start.

The film starts with a flashback in 1991--where we see Hydra operatives from Siberia send the brainwashed Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum and assassinate its driver and passenger. Cut to...

One year after Ultron's defeat in Sokovia at the hands of The Avengers, Captain America aka Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) stop former S.H.I.E.L.D; operative Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos--when Scarlet Witch tries to displace an explosive blast into the sky, it destroys a nearby building, killing a number of Wakandan humanitarian workers.

At the team's headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (last seen in The Incredible Hulk and played by William Hurt) informs the Avengers that the United Nations is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish an international governing body to oversee and control the Avengers. The team is divided: Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)  supports oversight because he feels responsible for Ultron's creation and Sokovia's devastation while Rogers has more faith in his own judgement than the government's.

Widow tries to convince Cap to support the Accords, but is unsuccessful. At the conference in Vienna where the Accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T'Chaka () of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, who T'Chaka's son, T'Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) vows to kill. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) tips off Rogers to Barnes' location and that the government does not plan to take him alive. Because Barnes is an old friend and war comrade, Rogers decides to capture Barnes himself, without authorization. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to his hideout in Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the authorities and T'Challa, but Rogers, Wilson, Barnes, and T'Challa are apprehended...

The 3rd Cap film is an adaptation of the Captain America: Civil War storyline penned by series vets Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely from which Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo called action. While there is certainly no shortage of action and spectacular sequences--it's still light on its feet-yes it slows down--but the pic never stops to give you enough time to check your watch.

The film tackles some of the same ethical and moral questions raised by Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The difference? "Civil War" is much more fun to watch. Despite the fact that this is indeed Marvel's darkest movie yet--there's still enough humor and warmth found within to prevent the film from being a total downer. During the sequel's pivotal 17 minute  battle between the opposing sides--things are serious-but there is also plenty of fun to be had....

Newly minted  Spider-Man () gets a fine introduction into the MCU--and while I still wish that former Spidey Andrew Garfield was wearing the suit--I look forward to seeing where this third big screen incarnation goes next in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film's other big introduction is Black Panther. Boseman is just terrific I can't wait to see more of him as well.

Cap 3 biggest flaw is its true villain Zemo (Daniel Brühl). Once again we have a comic book movie bad guy who is woefully underwritten and thus poorly realized He doesn't really seem all that menacing. Behind the scenes he is the puppet master--but onscreen he's no menace. A shame because Brühl is talented.

"Civil War" has it all...Action Spectacle Drama Humor--A must see.

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