Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America: Civil War is a thoughtful exploration of power, responsibility, vengeance, and friendship. The movie's first act is somber, balanced out by its slightly lighter middle -- and then things get dark for the finale. While Captain America v. Iron Man would have been a more accurate title for the film, at the story's core is Steve Rogers' incorruptible heart and soul, and his steadfast faith in his friends. Also: this movie's soundtrack is outstanding.

Tony Stark does a whole lot to drive the plot of Civil War. Following the Avengers' ultimately catastrophic victory over his creation, Ultron, Stark refuses to contemplate his own penchant for world-ending destruction. But he's clearly very disturbed (see "Someone Help Tony Stark") , and his cry for help takes the form of his support for the Sokovia Accords, a treaty that would give an international body oversight over the Avengers.

Steve Rogers staunchly resists this tide of change: "The safest hands are still are own," he tells the team. Just like when he told Nick Fury back in 2014's Captain America: Winter Soldier that building superweapons to counter potential global threats "isn't freedom, it's fear," Captain America sees the pitfalls of government overreach. He refuses to surrender agency to gain accountability. The rest of the Avengers take sides accordingly.

When his childhood friend Bucky the Winter Soldier reappears, Captain America goes rogue to bring him back. This eventually leads to the big superhero showdown, which is as epic as the trailers promise, but there are two striking things about this fight. First, the lead-up to it -- with both sides recruiting additional members -- is hilarious and consists, for me, of the single best scene in the movie (hint: it contains the line, "Not in that onesie you're not."). Second, the fight is when the movie's main theme, "Civil War," thunders front and center, and it is magnificent. While it incorporates the soaring trumpets of Captain America's own theme music as well as trilling violins and percussion for the explosive action, its crescendo is grim and ominous -- it's lamenting, not celebrating, the battle. (In fact, I hear echoes of Ni no Kuni in a section of eight tones...just me? Okay.)

The score is similarly tragic during the final battle, which, delightfully, is unexpected. The villain in this movie, played by walking Bitchy Resting Face Daniel Brühl, is nefarious and -- remember what I said in my FF Tactics review? -- a good villain must execute his plans successfully for him to be awesome, ergo, Zemo is awesome. A good back story is also a must, and this too is provided. I doff my monogrammed cap to writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely!

Assorted thoughts:
  • Spider-Man is terrific! Like Deadpool, he's a great fighter and has no filter between brain and mouth.
  • Marissa Tomei!
  • I like that Scarlet Witch is basically a nuke, and therefore must be guarded by Vision, another nuke.
  • Silly Cap, of course Natasha knew where you were headed and got there first.
  • Okay, Ant-Man has proven himself a worthy Avenger.
  • The Stan Lee cameo was so good. Do you remember all his cameos from the other movies?

TL;DR: Watch it, obviously.

This post brought to you by free cake!