Movie Review: ‘Captain America: Civil War’
PG-13 | 146 min
by Jason Koenigsberg
The follow up to 2014’s exceptional Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens with a shot of an isolated military base on a frozen tundra is meant to recall The Winter Soldier and let the audience know that his character will play a pivotal role in this latest film. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo return to direct and succeed once again in making Captain America, played by Chris Evans, always seem cool, never corny which is no easy task considering the type of superhero he is. Unfortunately, Captain America: Civil War felt more like an Avengers movie than it did its superior Captain America films and the actual plot involving the secretive terrorist organization Hydra was predictable and one that I found myself never caring about. This is the first Captain America movie to suffer from Marvel fatigue.
There are a lot of positive aspects to this film but they sadly get lost among routine action sequences and lame attempts at humor, especially all of the scenes involving Tom Holland as the new Spider-man. Anthony Mackie continues to be underrated and great in all of his films and is once again one of the better performances as Sam Wilson/Falcon. His stand-out performance is commendable among a huge cast of talented actors that somehow could not afford to bring back Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo or Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe their schedules were too busy. The worst big name actor that was given absolutely nothing to do is William Hurt. For such a talented actor to be wasted on such a thankless role that only had a few scenes is a travesty.
The riveting opening scene takes place in Lagos, Nigeria where we jump right into the action with zero character development. That works fine in a lot of movies except Captain America: Civil War had no character development for all of its characters other than Tony Stark/Iron Man played by Robert Downey Jr. This movie is crowded with too many heroes and none of them were given the chance to be properly established and evolve. Some great actors and themes that could have been fostered instead fell by the wayside for a lot of routine CGI action sequences.
Captain America: Civil War deals with death and loss more than any of the other Marvel movie, but regrettably you cannot appreciate any of it unless you have seen all of the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first time a film in the MCU cannon has been guilty of that.
Unlike the other recent DC film about a quarrel between its two biggest heroes, Captain America: Civil War goes out of its way to deal with the ramifications of collateral damage. Superheroes killing innocent lives is a main theme in this film that was touched on throughout but never properly dealt with. The gravity of killing all of these casualties was explored in the script but not to the depths that it should have been to make the action scenes resonate with a sense of honor and importance that the previous two Captain America films had. Instead it went for big, silly spectacles like the Avengers movies, and with the majority of the Avengers making appearances in Civil War, one must assume that was the path the filmmakers thought this movie should take.
The two new characters it introduced were Tom Holland as Spider-man who’s scenes were designed solely to get cheap laughs from the audience, and Chadwick Boseman as The Black Panther, who came across more like Catwoman when he was in his costume. The Black Panther appeared to be stronger when he was not wearing a mask and having his little cat claws out to scratch. In his super suit he seemed more feminine and graceful than he did tough. That is a testament to Boseman as an actor and I wish that his performance was in a better movie that was not squandered by being required to run around in tights.
The music score by Henry Jackman was too heavy handed and overshadowed the acting in many scenes. The filmmakers obviously had very little respect for the audiences intelligence and felt that we needed to be orchestrated on how we should feel almost every step of the way.
The biggest problem with Captain America: Civil War is that it was way too long. If the audience was allowed to care more about the characters and if the action scenes were more exciting it would not have felt too long. Instead this movie suffers from comic book burnout and one can only hope they start to spread these movies out because as the release calendar continues to roll out more of these Marvel movies, the less special they are all starting to feel.
Here is the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a vastly superior Marvel movie.