First let me start this review by saying Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige, eight years into their record breaking run of movies, show no signs of slowing.
What staggers me the most about this movie making dynasty that Marvel has forged, is that the movies are both commercially satisfying, and critically lauded.
CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR continue this trend by making a compelling, large scale, blow things up, summer movie, that is also, under the colorful costumes, an unexpectedly thoughtful meditation on liberty, terrorism, governmental oversight, friendship, obsession, guilt, and how being absolutely certain you are right, is often the surest way to doing extremely wrong things.
I thought the action sequences were frenetic and fantastic, performances picture perfect, script and story both global and grandiose, while somehow amazingly staying intimate and grounded. Giving each character in such a large cast, their beats, their moments, and even moments of humor in a dire landscape.
Ultimately the film is a masterwork of direction, pacing, editing, and that falls largely at the feet of its directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who helmed their first Marvel movie, and their first movie of any real scale, with Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER.
Nothing in their previous experience would hint at the Russo Brothers being able to direct a movie of this scale, much less direct it brilliantly. So big kudos has to be given to Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios for just having the best eye for talent both in front of and behind the camera.
I don’t give out many A+ ratings. That movie CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER is an A+ of a movie, and I only like it more the more I watch it. And that movie was a testament to the Russo Brother’s unbelievable vision and ability to juggle disparate elements into a riveting whole. They continue that trend with this sequel to that movie.
And CIVIL WAR is very much a sequel to that movie, Steve Rogers rigid stance against outside oversight, a direct result of that movie and his betrayal by SHIELD/HYDRA. That betrayal, and his desire to never again be a pawn, never again just a soldier obeying questionable orders, is at the heart of the conflict in this film. And it’s a very layered and morally ambiguous question, as both sides have valid points, and treacherous blind spots.
It’s a very timely movie, given the very problematic state of American Politics this election year.
CIVIL WAR in summation is a fantastic movie with an excellent cast, and excellent characters, and a story that is both fun and a bit troubling. Particularly the choices the titular character makes, especially one you learn about right at the end of the movie, are ones that left a bad taste, and taint that character. It doesn’t sit well with me, which I think is just what the film makers wanted you to feel at the end. A sense of discomfort and unease.
It’s a brilliant and risky bit of film-making, to go that dire, but I think it pays off for them more than it doesn’t. I didn’t love the ending of the movie, but I understood this is the tone they wanted the film to end on, and arguably it’s the right tone, any movie with war in the title, should be somewhat troubling.
And this movie is that. End of the day I thought the movie was spectacular, one of Marvel’s best, but not quite as good as its predecessor WINTER SOLDIER or THE AVENGERS, but still great enough to get a solid B+/A-!
It’s one I’m definitely going to buy when the Blu-ray drops. And I think I’m going to go see in the theater again. Which is a rare thing for me. Highly Recommended!