Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and a butt-load of other Avengers.
Review by Mike DeAngelo:
Leading up to the release of Civil War we’ve seen a heaping of praise dumped on this film by the press that screened it a few weeks back (lucky bastards…). Many have been calling it the best Marvel movie of all time, leading fans into an absolute frenzy heading into the premiere. It was a reverse Batman V. Superman scenario. I can feel you pushing me to make a statement of quality, so I’ll just say it: It’s a damn good movie. Is it the best-est, blockbuster-iest, action fest of all time? Probably not. And that’s the issue with movies receiving the highest of praise – it comes with the highest of expectations. Expectations that are often unrealistic. Bottom line, Captain America: Civil War is another solid, bar-raising entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I’m going to keep this review as short and to-the-point as possible. Do we really need me to comment on the direction when we know the Russo brothers and their team make the crap out of a Marvel movie? Do I need to critique the acting when we’ve seen the actors nail these parts time and time again? No – as both are still in tip-top shape in Civil War.
So, let’s just talk about the movie as a whole. The Russo brothers were pretty vocal about making their last film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as Honest Trailer- proof as possible. With Civil War, they’ve really taken that to the next level. All motivations are clearly laid out and understandable, the action is smart and fun, and, if you’re willing to roll with the superhuman-ness of it all, there’s not a whole lot to call B.S. on.
Newcomers to the MCU, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), are expertly portrayed and incorporated into the larger framework. Both are also given a little more screen-time than the other side characters, but let’s face it, that’s what we wanted anyways. I’m not going to lie, Tom Holland is a friggin’ great Spider-Man/Peter Parker. In the little time he got, you see Peter’s heart, wit, and heroism in spades. That’s why he stands out so much in the movie – he’s so well written and acted. It’s also refreshingly grounding to see a teenage perspective to this universe and I can’t wait to see Marvel’s first full take on Spidey.
It’s also no surprise that there’s another conflict than the one between Cap & Iron Man - a conflict that’s being fueled by a new villain to the MCU. This is where I sense people will have the most differing opinions. As I’ve mentioned in my previous Marvel movie reviews, the films tend to shine despite their weak villains. These villains tend to be very large and colorful, but ultimately one-dimensional. Obviously, there are exceptions – Loki and the Winter Soldier come to mind most immediately. This time around, it seems that the filmmakers made an active decision to do the exact opposite, as the villain is very human and becomes more interesting as the film goes on. Where people might have issues is that he’s not flashy at all. His quest is more small-scale & personal - not one that requires cities or heli-carriers to drop from the sky. Personally, I felt it was a refreshing way to subvert expectations and I will likely be more and more thankful for it with each repeat viewing.
I was also surprised that the film services both sides of the Team Iron Man/Team Cap conflict fairly evenly. I was expecting to take a certain side pretty easily, but the film makes you struggle with it. Let’s be clear here – Iron Man is not the villain of Civil War. The thing that makes the movie so interesting is that it makes the conflict just as difficult for the viewer as the characters.
Mix in some great moments and mini-arcs for the rest of the Avengers, some interesting new supporting characters, a couple small twists and you’ve got yourself one jam-packed movie. It’s a film that, despite the ten million moving parts, feels fairly lean in comparison to what has come before – and that’s a testament to how well-made this movie is. No fat to trim here, just sweet superhero awesomeness. So, is it the best Marvel movie yet? Probably. Either way, it’s certainly a confident step forward into the future of blockbuster filmmaking.
OVERALL SCORE: 9.5/10 SUPERHERO ACTION POSES