Review: Captain America: Civil War [2016]

a review by the Crow.

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OPENING THOUGHTS

It wasn’t until earlier this year that this crow first watched the second instalment in the Captain America franchise on a … erm. Okay, it was drinkie-and-cards-night with friends, and we got bored and blah-blah… whatever. We watched the damn movie.

After being a bit “meh-d” out by the first Captain America movie (it wasn’t bad, it was even above average, but I wasn’t all that thrilled by it), The Winter Soldier was surprisingly a far more solid movie. However, its glaring flaws held it back a little too much for my liking.

So, when time came around, I walked into Civil War expecting nothing much, but a little hopeful about this movie.

See, this is the thing: Age of Ultron was such a disappointment that I’d had it in my mind that the MCU was beginning to show signs of franchise fatigue. Since I haven’t yet seen Ant-Man, it was either make or break with this movie. It was either going to be really, really bad, or decent/good. What it wouldn’t be is middling. The MCU’s gone to the point where playing it safe with a long-running franchise like Captain America would actually be folly when you title it Civil War.

So, how’d it do?


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PLOT

WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS CONSIDERABLE SPOILERS

To make a long story short, following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and the “intro battle” of this movie going fuckup (RIP Crossbones; tbf, you were a bit of a ****), the Avengers are expected to sign an agreement called the “Sokovia Accords” and accept the UN oversight that will come into play after said accords are signed.

This causes an immediate rift between the avengers, and with Tony Stark brought back to help out with the decision, tensions begin to build immediately between Cap and his counterpart.

At the meeting where the Sokovia Accords are to be signed, an explosion is triggered, and among those killed is the Wakandan king.

The lead suspect is Bucky Barmes, the Winter Soldier. Cap rushes from the funeral of his old bae Peggy Carter to track him down and run him off to safety. Things go South, and Bucky is on the run not only from the local constabulary, but from a mysterious black-suited feline-man as well, all while Cap and Falcon try to help him flee.

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They end up caught anyway, and our feline-man reveals himself to be prince T’Challa of Wakanda (Black Panther! Finally!). They’re stuck in prison, and that’s from where we get to our main villain.

Of the things the movie handles well, Helmut Zemo is one. He’s not really the character from the comics, but oh tiddlywinks is he a great villain. You know how Age of Ultron was meant to make things  more personal? Well, Zemo’s motivations are far more personal than anything Ultron had going for him.

The moment I was done watching Civil War, the first thing on my mind was ‘this movie should have been the sequel to the first Avengers‘. Sure, Thor and the Hulk were in Age of Ultron; and yes, Scarlet Witch and the Vision were introduced, but considering the content, Age of Ultron should really have been Iron Man 3. And Civil War should have been the Avengers sequel.

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Bucky goes on a rampage after becoming “activated” as the Winter Soldier, and after a battle, Cap and he regroup with Falcon. The three uncover Zemo’s involvement and decide to hunt him down with help from some other assorted superheroes.

Racing against them, Stark assembles his own splinter group (including the new Spiderman!), and the two sides face off at an airport. And at long last, after so many one-on-one tiffs over the years, we get our first superhero team vs superhero team fight ever!

And what a fight it is!

Once the dust settles, despite losses on both sides, Cap and Bucky go off to find Zemo at his hideout, with Stark deciding to aid them in their quest once he discovers the truth about the bombing.

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The plot handles everyone’s motivations brilliantly. The script allows every single character to come alive in their own right, and that helps make each of them more relatable. The awesome thing about this is that because everyone’s pretty much at odds with everyone else, and because sides are changed and temporary alliances formed, it makes for a rollercoaster ride for the viewer.

The final moments are a wind-down following the climactic battle, and each and every character has their destination set. All in all, this is not just the best Captain America movie, but the best Avengers movie so far.


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EXECUTION

The movie is produced with high standards in mind. This crow will therefore only concentrate on some of the movie’s flaws to begin with.

Everyone seems to have at least some form of Captain America serum running through them. Even ordinary Joes are capable of mind-bogglingly superhuman feats. Take Rhodey, for instance: just like I said would happen to the Batman in my BvS review, that fall should’ve outright killed him. The Stark suits have no way of defending against impacts like that. Not once is it even technobabbled away. Stark and Rhodey should’ve been goners long ago.

The same applies for Ant-Man.

At a few points, the humour seemed a tad flat. But that’s actually not a real problem. The movie’s ominous, brooding overtone is hard to pierce through.

The performances by each and every actor (hey! Martin Freeman!) are top notch, and the action is beautifully choreographed.

Good job, production team!


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CHARACTERS

Oh, dear me. Where do I even begin with this one?!

Er…

Well, let’s start with Captain America himself: the man plays the part of the soldier with authority, despite his misgivings about his superiors. We finally get to see him fully step out of the grip of orders from on high (although he has done so on occasion before) and become his own spearhead.

Iron Man is, as usual, fun all-round. The only two highlights (and he has quite a few) of his performance here are his reaction to finding out the truth about 1991 (which he carries right through to the end), and how hurt he is by Cap’s referral to Barnes as his “friend”. Both moments are effortlessly played through Downey Jr, but add so much to the movie.

Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier is pretty much what you expect of him. When I heard that they were going to have scenes shot in Romania, I was at first excited that Constanta (where Stan is from) would make an appearance, but we get Bucharest again. Not bad. Not spectacular, either.

Helmut Zemo is not a man to be taken lightly. He has no powers, no nothing. And yet it’s he who finally tears the avengers apart. One year, he’s seethed with revenge. One year, a bomb, and a book is effectively all it takes for him to get the job done. I really hope his next appearance builds on Brühl’s menacing performance.

Black Panther! We finally get to see T’Challa, and what a badass the man is. Marvel’s got him right. This is exactly what I’ve expected to see, and they’ve crafted him perfectly.

I won’t go into too much detail about the rest of the characters, because they all do admirably. Spiderman was great to see back in action, and it’s nice to see the MCU building on the Scarlet Witch and Vision‘s relationship. Thunderbolt Ross also returns after his appearance in The Incredible Hulk, and since Norton’s departure and the love interest becoming vanished, it’s a bit of a surprise to see William Hurt back in the charactrler’s shoes.


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CLOSING THOUGHTS

So far, out of the superhero movie that this crow has seen this year, Civil War ranks the highest (Deadpool will soon make an appearance on The Corvid Review). Of course, Doctor Strange is one on his list, and you can read what the Raven thought of it over here.

The team behind this movie are taking over the future Avengers movies in Whedon’s place.

All I can say is, I’m happy for how Marvel continues to keep their engine running. I expect good things from them in the future.

Now pls pls fix the Iron Man franchise!

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Final rating: 7.5/10

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