Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: Captain America: Civil War

Captain, my Captain

Hype is a heck of a thing. And short of The Force Awakens, I don't remember a movie having more hype around it. By the time the actual movie came out, I am reasonably certain you could splice the entire movie together from the myriad TV spots and trailers. But does Civil War live up to all that hype?

The answer is: Kinda? Like, mostly? It's a lot to live up to, ya know? It's really good, but there was a LOT of hype. Ya know?

Not all of it was even the fault of Marvel/Disney. Once praise from critics started pouring in, it reached a fever pitch. And that praise is warranted! But, man, I honestly will remember the hype more than I will the movie.

So let's talk about the movie itself, even though you have already seen it. On the off chance you have not, I will try my very best to avoid spoilers.

Civil War did a LOT really, really well. I loved that it was actually a better Avengers movie than any of the ones that SAY 'Avengers' in the title. I loved that even with all those people in there, no one really felt left out, yet it was still a Cap movie.

I loved the villains. Again, avoiding spoilers, it did this much more gracefully than any other Marvel movie to date. And it didn't do it by just making Tony/Iron Man the bad guy. He was actually relatable and understandable, save for one early scene that felt like it was trying just a little too hard.

On the whole, it was a very, very good movie. Cap's character gets even deeper and more interesting, and really, so does the rest of the crew. There were, however, several small things that bugged me. Time/location jumps are really, really bad. That, or our heroes can literally teleport places, which I don't remember really being anyone's skillset. There was one part, in particular, where it killed two very impactful scenes for me because I was trying to figure out, how and when, exactly, two characters who were somewhere else entirely were suddenly in a very different place.

There have been a lot of complaints about the lack of stakes in this - someone should have died, no one was ever in any really danger, and I honestly disagree. The stakes were not absent, but they were different. I am treading on dangerously spoilery ground here, but the stakes was not the death of Cap, Iron Man or even Bucky. It was their trust and reliance on each other - and that died, and died hard. I liked it, because the movie was at least being honest with us. In, say, my least favorite Marvel movie, Thor: The Dark World, they beat you over the head with the universe is going to die and not once do you even care or feel suspense. Civil War never lies like that, instead telling you no one is going to die, but they might not trust each other again.

The airport fight scene, which in another movie would have been either a dour affair with lots of grimacing, or one where the heroes effortlessly trample the Bad Guys, was instead filled with friendly quips punctuated by punches, or vice versa. There were actual stakes there, too- it was the part I worried about the most coming in, but in execution, no one was trying to kill each other- just stop [CHARACTER] from  [DOING A THING]. So no one needed to die in order for the scene to work - and it made the emotional climax of the scene that much more powerful, as all the quips and jokes turned serious and everyone realized they now had to live with the consequences of their actions.

Also, Black Panther and Spider-Man are worth the price of admission alone.

The Math:

Baseline assessment: 8/10. Holy crap, this is a great movie. It's just the right mix of fun-popcorn flick and actual statement. The Russo brothers have outdone themselves, and I feel really bad that two Infinity Wars movies will probably break them like Avengers broke Joss.

+1 for actually doing service to the 739 superheroes who are in this movie (count is approximate)
+1 for not doing another Spider-Man origin. Or even talking about it. Seriously. Thank you.

-1 for weird time/location jumps
-1 for not possibly being able to live up to all the hype
-1 for all the hype

Conclusion: 7/10: an enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws. Which is actually the best description of the MCU. (Reviews policy here)