Captain America: Civil War – Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War – Movie Review

The ensemble superhero movie is a great way to make a movie for the summer that will attract a huge number of fans, bring in the dough, and continue keep the money wagon rolling on.

But as we can see, from Zack Synder’s Superman vs Batman, it didn’t quite pan out, and too much of the director’s special sauce can actually make the movie quite awful.

The Russo brothers join a long line of directors who aim to bring a bunch of disparate characters together to form more than a mish mash of superheroes and they need to provide action, develop character, add humor and perhaps a dash of romance  into a story which should not be more than 2 ½ or 3 hours. Now that can be a tall order, again referencing Zack’s missteps, or as Joss Wheldon has deftly shown, it can be a group performing melodiously together to form a magnificent symphony of explosions, humor and heart. Now the Russo brothers belong to the latter group, and certainly they have done well.

What makes a good superhero or any other ensemble movie isn’t just a lot of big names. Think “Ishtar” years back. The movie had some of the top names and it bombed big time. So just getting marquee names isn’t enough. They have to work well together. And the stars here have a big head start. Some of them, like Captain A, Ironman, Black Widow, Hawkeye etc have been together for quite a few shows, and the chemistry shows. To keep it fresh, one could just throw in a few more heroes and hope for the best.

The Russos don’t just do that. There’s plenty of demo worthy action, but it comes well timed, and in between, there is intense acting, which may seem out of place in an action movie, but actually adds depth, in a way seldom found in a summer blockbuster.

So the original Avengers team have had some changes, and in their latest quests, there was collateral damage. This kind of emotional drama seldom sounds sexy enough to warrant inclusion in a supercharger action movie, but the Russos manage to add it and make it stick well, contrasting with the action to differentiate this movie enough from just a ‘big dumb fun’ actioner.

Then there is the newbies. By now, it comes as no spoiler that Antman and Spiderman also guest star in this show, and boy do they pull their weight. In particular, Antman has a big moment, literally, and he is no lightweight, pun intended. Spiderman has a rather tacky costume compared to the more pro looking, bespoked slick suits that seem to come off Saville row, whereas his seems to be bought off K Mart on sale.. nevertheless, it actually helps, as we are presented with a really nascent babe of a Peter Parker, barely half a year into his crime fighting career. Tom Holland, who looks a lot like the chap who played Billy Elliot, does wonders as the barely pubescent teenage superhero, who talks too much during his fights. I guess it does help that he is the only actor who is still in his teens (19) so he sound quite believable. The moments of levity that he injected were timely, and really funnySpiderman ala Tom Holland has a bright future, and a standalone movie will be very welcome. Good bye Andrew Garfield.

Now as for the action, it does come fast and furious, for if this superhero movie degrades into a talkie, then it’s going to loss fans by the second. But the interesting thing is that the big cross fight scene occurs halfway though the movie rather than at the end. And the Russos manage to pull this off well, saving the ‘mano el mano’ fight to the end, which actually helps with the development of the story, and gives Robert Downing some chance to show off his acting chops.
When you compare a bulked up Ben Affleck as Batman, who can barely move faster than my old man versus the fight scenes that characterised Bucky vs Cap American, and you see why one movie succeeded and the other went kaput. 

The only element that sputters is the attempted romance between Agent 13 and the Cap.. it’s a little contrived, and the sparks flew more when they tried to match up Black Widow and the Cap. This one was dead in the water and the bromance between Cap and his buddy had more in it by far. Black Panther was also not really interesting, whilst understandably so, Hawkeye’s screen time seemed like an afterthought.

So the ensemble superhero movie has a new benchmark, and long live Spiderman, Captain America and bring on the next installment!


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