I’ve been doing this on my own personal Facebook for some time, but it has been long enough. It is now time for the inauguration of Unwelcome Reviews – a series of completely unwarranted and informal reviews of movies, shows, and other entertainment (that I sometimes happen to see in theaters before other people do). How better to start us off than with the best comic superhero movie I’ve seen since Watchmen? Let’s begin. — TBF
First, we’ll start this review by talking about another movie (because, hell, since you’re already reading an unwelcome movie review, screw the rules). This movie enters the scene hot on the heels of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. To talk about either of these films in isolation of the other would be tantamount to pretending Han Solo’s death didn’t bother you (even if you saw it coming the whole time) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
(Hey, I said no spoilers for Captain America: Civil War, I didn’t specify all the other films. Also if you haven’t seen SW:TFA at this point, shame on you! Anyway, let’s continue.)
So why do I bring up Batman v. Superman? Because it was a superhero movie about two powerhouse characters that, under intense scrutiny, didn’t quite stun audiences in the way it could have. Zack Snyder did a phenomenal job, in my mind, of spinning a new flavor of darkness in Batfleck. (Also, can we just acknowledge how AWESOME Batfleck is? Anyway, reeling it back in since this is not a review of Batman v. Superman…) But I bring up that movie because it had the opportunity, with only two or three characters, to spin a thrilling and suspenseful plot, one with a deep theme of divinity vs. mortality, one that linked to impending doom from the cosmos, one that gave Batman enough conviction to kill the Man of Steel himself (or at least more compelling reason to not kill Superman than their goddamn moms’ first names)…. and it ultimately fell flat. Hints and clues were haphazardly scattered, and major plot holes left many viewers and fans unsatisfied, with more questions than answers (and not in the good way). I gave it a C, for being passable, and at least finishing off on a good note.
Enter Captain America: Civil War (with special thanks to the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam MWR and Navy Motion Pictures for hooking us up).
It is, above all else, an action movie with lots of explosions. That much, we expected. But what my husband Ryan and I did not expect was a well-crafted plot, nuanced character dialogue, and gripping battle sequences. The Russo Brothers could have failed even one character in the larger-than-a-Super-Bowl-line-up superhero faction. It would be so simple to overlook a detail. Surely, if Zack Snyder struggled with 3 heroes (plus the 3 cameos) then surely, a team of twelve wouldn’t possibly work. How could you possibly develop twelve characters while moving forward any plot at all, within a span of 2.5 hours.
The Russo Brothers did not fail us. Not one bit.
My husband and I agreed – it was like ripping a comic book page and holding it to the light. Every shot was treated with care, and felt like it belonged on an physical paper spread. Struggle was emphasized; scale was enhanced; and the fights… good Lord, the fights. Black Widow fought like her namesake. Black Panther lived up to his name, landing cat-like and swiping with tenacity. Hell, even SPIDEY was done justice – he kicked major ass! I could literally just tally everyone up on this list, but the point is, every single character– from the one-liners, to the uniforms, to their M.O.’s, to every single punch that was thrown– was treated with respect, fully-fleshed, justified, and, surprisingly, not upstaged by the real stars of the show…
Now the question everyone has had — “Is it really a Civil War?” Does it live up to its very title, or has it been some well-deployed marketing hubris?
I am here to say: Yes. It is a war. There is no question about it.
This is exactly why I chose the image you see above (courtesy of blastr.com). This film goes far beyond petty political discord. This film reaches deep into your heart and pulls out your deepest trust issues. Marvel hits us at a time when we can hardly bear to trust our politicians or our government, and it makes us ponder the meaning of trust altogether. It questions authority & control in a time when we, ourselves in real life, question authority and control. It makes us question what it means to be “right,” and at what cost we should grasp our righteousness. The Russo Brothers do all of this, and still have us, the common viewers, leaving the theaters thrilled with what we have seen, more committed fans than when we arrived.
My only gripe is a minor one, and it is a shared gripe that I have seen with other critiques — the villain was not as developed as he could have been. But honestly, what does the villain even matter when the biggest threat to friendship is itself?
My score? A f*cking PLUS (A+).