Reviews of an Acute Cinephile.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War is about a lot of things.

It’s about loss, It’s about betrayal and regret; but primarily, it is a film about consequences, and how past demons are never truly buried, however hard someone might try.

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Being the 13th movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second Captain America movie helmed by director duo The Russo Brothers (or the Russos), after their debut with the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one would expect there to be some sort of franchise fatigue with this film. But that is not to be, as against all odds, Marvel and The Russos have crafted what could be arguably, the best comic-book movie ever made; and I do not make that claim lightly. (I can hear the Nolanites cocking their keyboard pistols)

The film begins with Captain America (Chris Evans) and his new Avengers on a mission in Lagos, Nigeria, when things go downhill due to a mistake made by the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Consequently, this mishap forces the governments of the world to conclude that this incident, after the wanton destruction caused during the avengers’ battles in New York, Washington DC and Sokovia, is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back; leading them to force The Avengers to sign The Sokovia Accords, a document that forces government oversight on The Avengers’ actions.  This splits the Avengers, with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr. at his best here, seriously, he’s f’in fantastic in this film, and proves why anyone who replaces him in the role has humongous shoes to fill), guilty over his part in creating Ultron and due to a chance encounter that shakes him to the core, agreeing to the act, while Cap doesn’t. Some of the Avengers side with Cap, the others with Iron Man. I’ll end the synopsis here.

Now bear in mind that I’ve only revealed about 0.1% of the film’s plot through the above synopsis, as I do not want to spoil this masterpiece for anyone. Yes, you heard me right, I called this a masterpiece.

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This film has one of the darkest, most emotionally complex storylines in a comic-book film; and the darkness and emotion here isn’t forced (*cough* Batman v Superman *cough*), but totally earned. This film benefits from having had its characters built up over the past 8 years in multiple different movies; so much so, that when they make a particular decision, you automatically understand why they take it. The Russos have done an amazing job directing this film as well, with certain choices that they make flooring me time and again. These guys just get it; and the action sequences in particular (with a special mention going to an end of second act, no holds barred, 17- minute royal rumble set in an airport, which was a comic-book wet dream come to life, and pretty much one of the best action sequences ever to be put onscreen. Period.) Contain the same raw grittiness and visceral feel that was ever present in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While the Russos have done a tremendous job, the script written by Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely is a real doozy too. I would love to read the script, because the structure in the film and the dialogues here are simply brilliant; with a great sense of escalation throughout.

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The special effects here are on point as well, with props going to Industrial Light and Magic for executing some truly great CG work (19-year old Robert Downey Jr. That is all.)

The performances here are some of the best present in any comic-book film to date; with Tom Holland as Spider-Man (Oh don’t worry, I’m getting to that), Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther (I’ll get to that too), Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr.  as Tony Stark, Scarle….You get the idea. Everyone’s fantastic in this.

Now, there was a lot of celebration when it was revealed the Sony and Marvel are finally coming together to bring Spider-Man in Civil War, and the big question is, How was he?

Well, short answer? Perfect.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man is the Spider-Man you never realized that you wanted. Sticking to his comic-accurate age of 16 when he gets his powers, Tom Holland encompasses the role perfectly; and needless to say, watching him on-screen put a big, fat grin on my face throughout, and simply made me even more excited for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. His interactions with Tony Stark in particular, are a joy to behold.

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Again, it is a testament to the directors’ and writers’ genius as to how they weaved him in seamlessly into the film, and also balanced so many characters and plot lines brilliantly.

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is also a standout, bringing a sense of regal grace and authority to his role as T’Challa. A particular response he gives when Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner introduces himself was pure gold and needless to say, I cannot wait to see him in his solo film next year, directed by the excellent Ryan Coogler (Creed)

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Now, when I started this review, I said that this film was about consequences, and no one personifies said consequences better than Helmut Zemo (Played by the brilliant Daniel Bruhl) this film’s antagonist. You’ll understand why I call him an antagonist as opposed to a villain when you see the film. Played with subtlety and grace by Bruhl, Zemo isn’t your “show-off” kind of villain. He doesn’t have any quirks or tics that would make him chew the surroundings. Instead, what we have here is an ordinary man, albeit extremely smart, trying to bring closure to his own story. Needless to say, He’s one of my favourite comic-book movie villains, if simply because of the themes that his story arc covers; and how it plays into the Avengers’ own issues.

Of course, the titular scuffle here though is between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark; and the conflict is brought to the screen with such raw energy and emotional complexity that there were sequences that moved me to tears. The climactic battle in particular was a standout, because unlike your generic superhero movie, we weren’t rooting for any one side to win. By the end, the story takes you through such an emotional roller-coaster, and you realize the gravity of the personal stakes involved that you just want them to stop fighting. The Russos have made a tremendous decision in shooting this climactic battle; as it conveys a very different tone to the relatively fun Airport sequence, and this truly gets the point across; with each punch landing with great emotional weight. So much so that, going in, I was Team Iron Man, but coming out, I was truly torn between the two sides. Also, enough cannot be said about Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. as Captain America and Iron Man. These men are the Christopher Reeves and Michael Keaton of this generation (Which is ironic when you think about it) and they truly embody their roles fully.

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This movie is a thing of beauty that I can’t stop thinking about and the themes and the messages here should convince even the most jaded of fans as to what Marvel can truly achieve when they fire on all cylinders.

In conclusion, I f*cking love this film. Bring on Infinity War

Rating: 10/10

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