Captain America: Civil War

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The best Marvel movie yet.
★★★★
Movie Review #1,079

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Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi. Running time: 2 hours, 27 minutes. Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem. Released May 6, 2016. Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Produced by Kevin Feige. Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Based on the Marvel comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, and Alfre Woodard. With cameos from Ann Russo, Stan Lee, and Joe Russo.

Oftentimes I tend to believe that the growing popularity of superhero movies is a complete manifestation of film as a form of entertainment, with little contribution to film as a form of art. Now and then, a great film will come out and convince me that superhero movies can be extraordinary as both art and entertainment. A great example of that is Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. Being that I’m not exactly a fan of the Marvel movies, I certainly wasn’t expecting that “Captain America: Civil War” would be the next film to remind me of how freaking great the genre can be. If every new yarn that the Marvel Cinematic Universe spins out is truly just another superhero film, “Captain America: Civil War” is something more than that. I will say right off the bat that this is a refreshing film for anyone like myself who ever thought the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be overrated. This is a smart, exciting, political film, exceedingly well written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the pair behind the two previous “Cap” movies, as well as “Thor: The Dark World”.

“Civil War” is essentially a third “Avengers” film, marketed as a third “Cap” film. The plot is brilliant, and its translation onto celluloid even more brilliant. As the film opens, it has been about a year since the Avengers defeated Ultron, and the Avengers are struggling as a peacekeeping force. On their newest conquest in Lagos, Nigeria, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) uses telekinesis to displace a bomb but ends up accidentally killing several humanitarian workers. The Avengers, as a whole, assume responsibility. Following the incident, the United Nations prepares to ratify the Sokovia Accords, which would establish a panel to keep the Avengers in check. This instantaneously causes a deep divide within the team. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America, opposes any such regulation of the Avengers; while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aka Iron Man, thinks they need regulation to keep them from hurting any more people and being seen as an enemy to the world.

The character development here is nothing like Marvel has ever done before, particularly for two characters that will be featured in their own respective films within the next year and a half. One of them is T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), otherwise known as Black Panther. T’Challa is the son of T’Chaka, the king of the nation of Wakanda, from which the workers killed in Lagos hailed. Initially, T’Challa seems like a peaceful, diplomatic individual. That’s up until the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), an ally to Steve Rogers, kills his father. Watching T’Challa join forces with Tony Stark is powerful. Later on in the film, Stark recruits our other new character: Peter Parker (Tom Holland), better known as Spider-Man. We’ve seen him have five of his own films from two different actors, and Spidey’s never been put onscreen as well as he is in “Civil War”. Tom Holland is a clever and enjoyable Spider-Man who, for once, strikes us as an actual teenager, not as a twentysomething. I won’t give away any spoilers, but let’s just say that the concise backstory offered for the character in “Civil War” is far better than anything we saw in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy or either of the “Amazing Spider-Man” movies.

“Captain America: Civil War” has just about everything we look for in a movie. It’s engaging. It’s exciting. It doesn’t feel like something we’ve already seen, and it offers itself the liberty to take innovative spins within its story. It runs for nearly two and a half hours, but it’s so entertaining you won’t even notice the time going by.

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