I have a confession to make. After seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron, I must admit I was worried the Marvel cinematic universe was becoming stale, and that that staleness would eventually turn to rot, I thought the film marked the beginning of a slippery slope into mediocrity.
Fortunately for all us true believers, Captain America: Civil War has proven how much of I moron I was to lose any amount of faith in the MCU.
Before I actually dive into my review I need to get something off my chest before I explode. the MCU Spider-Man has arrived, and he has arrived in style! For the first time a movie has managed to nail both Peter Parker and Spider-man. Tom Holland is Peter/Spider-man, in much the same way Robert Downey Jr. is Tony/Iron Man. It is literally worth the price of admission to see Spider-Man in action.
Okay, with that of the way we can get to the review.
From start to finish the film never loses it's pitch-perfect pacing. The story clips fast enough to demand its audience's attention, but slow enough to form a cohesive, smooth story. The only problems I had with the plot are really just the little inconsistencies with logic that come with any action movie. For the sake of those who don't want spoilers I won't be giving examples. Suffice it to say the excellent dialogue, brilliant action sequences, and superb acting from almost all the film's stars distract audiences from these little nitpicks so expertly, even CinemaSins would feel like an asshat for pointing them out.
One thing that makes the plot of Civil War feel fresh is the fact that Baron Zemo, the film's main villain, is given a surprisingly small amount of screen time. The part he plays is small and subtle. Not to poo-poo other critics or anything, but I feel they mistook his subtlety for a poorly written and acted character, and I absolutely disagree with that assessment.
The main villains of this film are Discord, Vengeance and Disunity. In other words the Avengers are fighting against their own flaws as much as they are fighting each other. The film tackles some pretty high concepts. Fortunately, unlike a certain other face-off between heroes that came out earlier this year, Civil War has just the right amount of humor and action to keep the audience from sinking into despair, or worse: boredom.
In fact, the Russo brothers have managed to deliver a film that actually ups the ante on action from Winter Soldier. The brawl at the airport shown in the trailers is literally some of the best action I have seen in any superhero film. The Russo brothers have a knack for shooting the fighting in their films with a certain gritty brutality, that is missing in other MCU films.
Of course what's a good plot without some compelling characters? I am happy to say that, miraculously, but not surprisingly, Civil War manages to give each character enough screen time and development for them to be compelling. This is especially true of the aforementioned Spider-Man and the other newcomer, Black Panther. The King of Wakanda maintains a commanding presence throughout the film. In fact the part is played so well by Chadwick Boseman it managed to get me pumped for the standalone film. That's saying something because until a two-hour Wikipedia session last night, I knew next to nothing about the Black Panther.
Anchoring the film are the excellent performances by Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. Both stars would have every right to "phone in" their parts by now-- This is Evans' fifth outing as the First Avenger and Downey's sixth as Iron Man-- but both give their best performances yet. Downey is particularly impressive as we see an Iron Man who is much more somber than in any of the other films.
The most impressive thing about this film is the fact that I kept vacillating between who I was rooting for. On the one hand you have Captain America who is trying trying to stand by his morals and save his best friend. On the other hand you have Tony who is struggling with the consequences of the Avengers' actions. Both sides have valid points, and there is no clear side for the audience to take. The real emotional punch of this film comes from the feeling that everyone is losing, there is no clear winner at the end of the film. For the first time a Marvel Cinematic Universe film wraps up with loose ends. It had a very Dark Knight type of feel to.
The Wrap Up
+Impressive performances, especially from Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans
+Heavy themes are balanced by humor and action
+An understated villain enables the film to focus on the hero's conflict
Nothing to see here.
Captain America: Civil War manages to correct the MCU's course, which slightly deviated with Age of Ultron. If you are feeling a little comic book movie fatigue, this film has the potential to restore your excitement for the MCU.
Do you agree with my assessment of the film, or do you think I'm a totally biased Marvel fanboy asshat? Let me know/make accusations in the comments below!