Friday, May 6, 2016

A House Divided

‘Civil War’ is the highly anticipated third and final entry in the Captain America trilogy that began with the rather mediocre ‘The First Avenger’ and continued with the superlative ‘The Winter Soldier’ (reviewed here:   As the second straight CA film helmed by the talented Russo brothers, it is also the best in terms of sheer melodrama, thrilling action scenes and epic-ness of scope, feeling more like an Avengers movie with its large ensemble cast  than a humble standalone Cap movie.  With ‘Civil War,’ Disney/Marvel has done it again in exceeding our expectations and making us hopeless addicts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Russos follow the tried-and-true James Bond/Mission Impossible formula of whetting our appetites with an opening teaser set-piece action scene before the main event.  The opening scene of 'The Winter Soldier' saw Cap and Black Widow battling Batroc and his goons onboard a ship.  In 'Civil War' it was Cap, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Falcon fighting Crossbones (disgraced former SHIELD agent/Hydra mole Brock Rumlow) and his henchmen in Lagos, Nigeria.  While ‘The Winter Soldier’ was a paranoia-infused conspiracy thriller playing off our fears of an all-powerful Big Brother government controlled by sinister and shadowy forces (Hydra), ‘Civil War’ can best be characterized as a political/espionage/chase movie in the gritty hard-hitting Jason Bourne mold.  Inspired by the comic book storyline of the same title, the film splits the Avengers along political lines and pits Team Iron Man against Team Captain America in the ultimate “Super Power Beat Down.”  This isn’t the misunderstanding and half-hearted two-minute scuffle we saw in Batman V. Superman, folks.  Our heroes are fighting for their deeply held beliefs (in the case of team leaders Steve Rogers and Tony Stark) or their loyalties to the two team leaders over the so-called “Sokovia Accords,”  enacted to restrain them from wreaking the massive destruction and collateral damage in the Avengers films as if the Chitauri and Ultron had nothing to do with it.  For the first time ever, ‘Civil War’ also introduced a character from a rival studio with the new Spiderman v3.0 (Tom Holland), who provided us with a glimpse of his geeky awestruck charm and wisecracking humor.
Jam-packed with action, conflict, melodrama (including a shocking “revelation” in the final act), bromance (let’s face it, the CA trilogy is all about Cap and Bucky) and a good dose of levity and humor (thanks, Ant-Man!), ‘Civil War’ leaves us wanting more even after its bladder-unfriendly run time of two hours and twenty-seven minutes.  So whose side are you on?  Should our heroes be reined in and allow themselves to be controlled by a world body in order to minimize the damage of their well-intentioned but destructive actions, or are they only accountable to their individual morality and convictions?  There are no easy answers, but the critics are right in one thing: ‘Civil War’ is a perfect example of why we love superhero movies.
Grade: A+
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