Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Following my complaints that the last two Captain America films were a bit dull because, as we all know, Captain America himself is a bit dull, Marvel have finally seen sense and buried him in a helicarrierful of other characters in his new movie, Colon Civil War. This is good, because some of those characters are Iron Man, Black Widow and Ant-Man, who are fun, but also bad because some of those characters are Arrow Man, Condorman and Fucking Weird Robot Man-Thing Man, who are rubbish.
Memorising the placement of these characters will be very helpful during the film

Considering how much hand-wringing went into worrying about whether four superheroes plus two little helpers could successfully share the screen in 2012's Marvel Avengers Assemble, the balls on writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely - as well as directors Anthony and Joe Russo - must have to be carted around in wheelbarrows after attempting to bring a dozen or so of the fuckers together here. That they've done it with a fair degree of success is an impressive feat of writing and direction which is unlikely to attract the kind of attention Joss Whedon did four years ago, and that's a shame.

But it's not applause and blowjobs all round just yet: despite a thoughtful and meaty first act that sets up the film's core antagonism in a way that makes Batman v Superman look like it was thrown together by shit-flinging monkeys, Civil War eventually decides that working out how to choreograph supermassive superhero smackdowns is more important than keeping focus on why they're all up in each other's grills, and eventually all that running around, jumping and fighting... well, it's exhausting.

To ReCap: as in BvS, people have begun to notice that superheroes are a destructive, dangerous lot. The Avengers' apparent indifference to their own city-smashing habits has resulted in a motion to bring them under the supervision of the UN, and while Tony Stark is all for that, Steve Rogers is more suspicious of political agendas, preferring his own judgement to the chance of becoming a government-sponsored weapon of mass destruction. It's an intelligent, well-laid-out argument which believably sets our heroes against each other, but it's not quite enough to trigger an all-out-war of the hashtags between #TeamIronMan and #TeamCap, so an additional wrinkle is added in the shape of Daniel Brühl's mysterious mischief maker, and this is where it all gets a bit murky.

Brühl makes fleeting, infrequent appearances throughout the story, and while it's refreshing that the villain isn't a showboating blowhard for once, it is a bit tricky to get a grip on exactly what he's up to. It's a pity, because his impact on the rest of the characters is crucial, and his plan requires the same amount of thought as - if not more than - the logistics of Civil War's numerous, enormous fight scenes, which we as an audience have been led to believe is what we really want to see from this film. When the repercussions of Brühl's somewhat underexplained actions are so far-reaching, it feels like they should have been given as much time and space to breathe as all the chin-stroking moral dilemmas are.
The centrepiece of Civil War is a gargantuan multiple face-off between the forces of good and, uh, also good, and while it's kind of fun, it's also crippled by its own ambition. Having painted itself into a corner where such a rumble can't be seen to cause injury to any innocent bystanders, the film instead sets the scene in a conveniently deserted airport, and the result is an amped-up but somewhat sterile version of Anchorman's news team fight. Every hero gets their moment - Ant-Man's is the best of the scene and, arguably, the whole film - and although it's shot and cut with welcome clarity it's hard to remember who's meant to be on whose side. And if I'm being honest, I do find strong people fighting each other a bit boring now. Only one character seems to get hurt in the entire scrap, so what's the point? Why not just have a nice sit down and a chat about it?

It's a shame, because there's some great work elsewhere. The banter between the leads is as on-point as ever, the humour is perfectly pitched and a couple of new supers are introduced organically and interestingly. One in particular gets a simple, beautifully-written and played introductory scene that does in minutes what other films spend entire acts on. But then, in the same film, Martin Freeman appears maybe three times for no apparent reason, as if most of his scenes were cut to allow more time for punching, and Vision - whose very existence and purpose is still a mystery to me - pads about an apartment looking bored in a range of comfortable slacks and polo shirts. He purports to be some kind of all-powerful, perfect synthetic being with infallible A.I., so why he's moping about like a Man At C&A catwalk model is baffling.
In fairness he descends from a proud line of androids in casual wear

By and large none of this matters; Captain America: Civil War is a perfectly serviceable summer blockbuster that reminds you how good Marvel are at this superhero malarkey. Where Batman v Superman was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, Civil War at least has the common decency to give you a good time in return for your hard-earned cash. I just wish it had extended the intelligence of its setup to the rest of the plot, because while the Marvel Cinematic Universe has the power to become one of the defining legends of our time, it's in danger of becoming overwhelmed by all the pixel-on-pixel argy-bargy. And if that happens you may as well just hire Zack Snyder and be done with it.


  1. Won't be as good as BvS tho :)

  2. @Anonymous - I've yet to see 'Civil War' and BvS was okay, if 'Civil War is as good as I've been hearing it's going to blow BvS out of the water.

  3. You're one of the only reviews I've seen that said nothing about Black Panther and Spider-Man, and by most accounts I've heard they are big highlights in this film.

  4. Or maybe I have, but chose not to use their names to avoid spoilers?

  5. Alright, if you say so haha.

  6. *sigh* "a couple of new supers [SPIDER-MAN AND BLACK PANTHER] are introduced organically and interestingly. One in particular [SPIDER-MAN] gets a simple, beautifully-written and played introductory scene that does in minutes what other films spend entire acts on."

  7. I thought it was good being subtle.

  8. I was right lol

    BvS got a ton of crap for plot holes/silly stuff so we could see them fight (as superheroes must fight so we can #team____man on twitter) yet CA:CW has a similar plot and equally silly stuff, even more so with Stark recruiting Spidey just so we could see Spiderman (who may as well been Garfield instead of some kid) yet the likes of Empire roll out the *****!

    did like the end 3 way fight though. 'sorry tony..hes my friend''..'so was I' Dat shit waz powerful..

  9. "Arrow Man, Condorman and Fucking Weird Robot Man"

    also WitchGirl and Cheadle in Ironman suit. but those 3 are the most boring superheroes ever though. whenever any of those are onscreen I immediately tune out. Black Widow gets away with it as ScarJo look so hawt in the wig and boots you cant help but forgive her silly poses and improbably kicking everyones ass like she had the Cap America thing done to her

  10. I love Captain America. He is a sign for heroism and I love the way he changed to be the biggest hero! I dreamed of Black Widow so many times, she is so sexy...