Saturday, May 7, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

You know when you saw Batman V Superman, and you didn't know who you wanted to win because they were both acting like petulant dicks? In Civil War, you don't know which side to take, because, at least through nine-tenths of the movie, everyone behaves fundamentally rationally. No, not just rationally: they behave like superheroes.

It's tempting to say this is the main difference between the two, but that's absurd. Basically, everything Batman V Superman did wrong, Civil War did right. Hell, the movie opens with a fairly routine fight against a minor villain and a bunch of henchmen that's easily better than every action scene in BvS put together.

I assume this is partially because the Russo's knew Batman V Superman was going to hit theaters first. They must have realized their film would be compared to it, so they must have poured extra energy into making something they can be proud of. One assumes they felt pretty stupid in March when they realized they could have just phoned it in. Ah, well: live and learn.

In case it wasn't clear by now, I really, really enjoyed this movie. Or, more accurately, movies - Civil War was basically two films in one. Half of it is a sequel to Winter Soldier, and the other half is an Avengers movie.

I definitely enjoyed the Winter Soldier sequel, though it was slow at times and maybe a tad too dreary. But who the hell cares, because the Avengers flick was damn near perfect.

If you've seen the trailers, you know who's in this. And you've probably also heard how good they are. Well, don't believe what you've heard - everyone's underselling the new characters.

Note that characters is plural. I'm not just talking about Spider-Man swinging in and stealing scenes (though, holy crap - I was not prepared for how perfect Holland would be). No less amazing is Boseman, playing Black Panther, the character I've most wanted to see on the roster since well before the first Avengers film.

This is a hard character to get right, especially with his origin wedged in the middle of someone else's movie. But the Russo's pulled it off. Just like they pulled off Falcon, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and everyone else. They stuffed this thing full of characters and made it look easy. Every crappy superhero movie that couldn't pull off three or four characters just got taken to school: this had twelve heroes and two villains, all balanced beautifully.

And, wedged in the middle, it offered a battle sequence that competes with the alien invasion at the end of the Avengers.

The movie has a few slow parts, but they serve to set up believable stakes. Like I said, you spend the vast majority of this movie completely buying everyone's motivations and drive. There's a moment near the end where they push this a bit, but even that feels like it's fair game.

This is what a superhero showdown is supposed to feel like. It has stakes, purpose, and consequences, without insulting the audience's intellect. It builds on years of history to deliver something both meaningful and fun.

Check it out if you haven't already.

And, *spoiler alert*: the movie ends with DC Comics getting their ass handed to them.

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