Sunday, May 8, 2016

Captain America: Civil War - Average Joe Review

So, on May 7-8, 2015, I went to the theater to see Ant-Man. And this is my review of the movie.
(May 7-8 because it started at about 10:30 and lasted until 1:10 at night)

First off, this review is spoiler free if you've watched the trailers for Civil War. Assuming you have, you have the go-ahead to read the following review.

Civil War. Easily my most anticipated movie of the year. Sure, Batman v Superman was up there, but I had a nagging feeling that that movie would bomb (which it did), but Civil War had me hyped since I heard about plans for such a movie. Captain America versus Iron Man? Of course I would love it! Although going into this movie I had knowledge of the comic book story arc by the same name, I tried to distance myself from most of the promotional material (except the trailers, of course). Clips on the Marvel Entertainment Youtube Channel, I neglected, TV spots, I fast-forwarded, actor interviews, I skipped over. I think part of the reason I disliked BvS so much was that the marketing was so horribly managed: it was as if I had already seen the entire movie through the promotional material. So yeah, I distanced myself from Civil War marketing best I could.

Now for the actual movie. Wow, what a movie. It was dramatic, action-packed, thought-provoking (or as thought-provoking a superhero film can be), well-acted, all around a great movie. Directed by the Russo brothers, Civil War was an all around stellar film. The Russo brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie in the MCU many regarded, at the time, as one of the best installments yet, earning such high praise almost solely because of it's amazing action sequences. Such great choreography and action really shine through in Captain America: Civil War as well. 

The general premise of the movie is that the Avengers have been split into two teams, led by Captain America/Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, and Iron Man/Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.. 

<sidenote> Are there supposed to be two periods there or only one? K thx. <sidenote>

The cause for such a rift in the Avengers is over the Sokovia Accords, a documents that makes the Avengers a public organization controlled by UN. Basically, the superheroes will have to act according to the UN and only the UN. Tony Stark is all for this: after all, his endeavors have resulted in mass destruction in the past, and a surprising number of villains were of Stark's creation. However, Captain America wasn't having it. What if the Avengers needed to go someplace that the UN didn't green-light? What if the UN itself was/were the bad guys? After the HYDRA fiasco of the Winter Soldier, Captain America wasn't so ready to let the government tell him what to do when, and understandably so. The proposal of the Sokovia Accords was, as the name suggests, after the Battle of Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but also because of a battle in the beginning of Civil War (which I won't go into now because SPOILERS). One thing leads to another and everybody takes matters into their own hands. And then it all goes to hell. (In a good way)

As always, I'm a little bit skeptical of movies like Civil War which are jam packed with characters, wondering if each character will shine on their own amidst all the chaos. In Civil War, I feel that each character did shine, although characters such as Hawkeye and others that were introduced later on in the film didn't have as much going for them. I know in the past I've said I was a huge fan of Hawkeye, but that has kind of reversed into a begrudging acceptance of his presence in the MCU. I don't know why, but he's definitely not in my top 10 favorites any more. Anyways, back to the point: the characters in Civil War do shine, even if it's just for a brief few moments. After all, with so many characters in the MCU crammed into this film, you can't get everything. Welcome additions were Black Panther, the Wakandan prince with his own agenda (which I won't get into here because SPOILERS), and... drumroll please...

SPIDER MAN!!! Tom Holland positively stole the show as Spidey, and finally all our prayer's have been answered: we have a great Peter Parker and great Spider Man!  Tobey Maguire was a good Peter Parker and an okay Spider Man, and Andrew Garfield was a bad Peter Parker and a good Spider Man, but this guy Tom Holland, he's the complete package. Finally, an actor who portrays Spider Man, in my opinion, the way he was always meant to be portrayed. I think part of the reason I loved his performance is my nostalgia towards Spider Man 2, the best Spider Man prior to Civil War. Of course, Spider Man 3 made me lose all respect for that franchise, but yeah Tom Holland is great. If you've seen any of the promotional material, you know what I'm talking. A teenaged snarky genius with superpowers is a welcome addition to the cast of adult superheroes doing super serious (hahahaha see what I did there?) superheroing, and in the main battle scene at the climax of the movie, Spider Man truly shines. 

Of course, RDJ does a wonderful job with Tony Stark, and although there was a lot less quipping from him than in past films, RDJ brought out the dark side of Tony, the side necessary for Tony to fight Cap. The action was quite compelling, and really made the Iron Man - Captain America interactions electrifyingly tense with anticipation. Chris Evans also had a stand-out performance, bringing out the dark side of Cap that Steve Rogers warned of in Age of Ultron. Both performances made for dramatic interactions between the two, and made the plot so much more riveting. All the other performances were great too: Anthony Mackie as Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky/Winter Soldier, Don Cheadle as Rhodey/War Machine, Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Elizabeth Olson as Scarlet Witch, you get the idea.

The CGI was also great, which can't hurt, although it was to be expected with such a huge budget. The action sequences were where Civil War really shines. Amidst all the chaos, the tension and rift in the Avengers is non-stop action that the Average Joe came to see. The Average Joe came to see Captain America beat up Iron Man and Iron Man to beat up Captain America, and Civil War delivered. Intertwined with dramatic, sometimes witty dialogue, the choreography and cinematography of the action sequences is characteristic of the Russo brothers: less shaky-cam, more storytelling. I could actually follow along with the punches, who was beating up who how. Other films, take notes.

There was also actually character development. I saw Captain America and Iron Man grow on screen, diverging from the norm of "good guy" to rivals, enemies to the end. Although having several years of the MCU to become attached to these characters might've aided the film, it's to the film's credit that I was still so invested in these characters whose stories I walked alongside. I could empathize with Captain America feelings towards the government, I could respect Iron Man's logic, but in the end, I didn't want either character to go away. Scarlet Witch and Falcon and Bucky especially also grew. In Age of Ultron, I barely got attached to the telekinetic mutant, but in this film, I see her struggle with the magnitude of her actions, and see her overcome that struggle for the greater good of what she thinks is right. Falcon also became so much cooler in this film, for lack of better words. In Winter Soldier, I wasn't the biggest fan of Falcon, but he's gotten much more interesting than a simple Captain-America-follower since that film, having his own thoughts and opinions on the Sokovia Accords, amongst other matters. Bucky however, stood out. In Winter Soldier, I was a bit worried of how he would be portrayed in the future in the MCU, but Civil War erased those worries completely. His story arc really came fully circle (get it, arcs and circles and stuff, hahaha), and I believe in Bucky as a  character now. As you know, character development is what I love to see most in a film, and this film, it delivered.

Now for the villain, the bad guy, whatever you call it. I feel like telling you the villain's motives and stuff is pretty SPOILER-RIFIC, so I won't go in depth at all, but all I will say is this: I felt as though the villain's driving force for doing what he did was pretty un-dramatic, and not of huge weight. He goes into his motives in the latter half of the movie, but such a brief scene didn't quite resonate with me. In other words, it was predictable from the very start. I really wish that Marvel could've done something out of the blue for this character, but they went the easy route, which was probably necessary to make the movie as good as it was. 

All in all, Captain America: Civil War was an absolutely stellar film in almost every way. Great acting, great action, great plot, it would be an understatement to call it awesome. I give it a 4.9/5, for even though everything was freaking awesome, amazing, spectacular, stupendous, the less-than-convincing villain doesn't give it a perfect score. However, this movie replaces The Edge of Tomorrow for the title of My Favorite Movie. Good job.