A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Produced By: Kevin Feige
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Running Time: 146 Minutes
For those who are unfamiliar with the world of the printed, tangible comic book universe (of which I am one), chances are that somewhere along the line at the very least, the title of Civil War would have been mentioned. Regarded as one of the most iconic issues in the history of the medium, the story is a pinnacle in the journey of Captain America and his fellow superhuman comrades.
As the name suggests, the story focuses on a divide within the community of heroes, which is settled in a violent, gargantuan and explosive fashion. The synopsis of Civil War is one that is intriguing, particularly when imagining the cinematic adaptation in the hands of Anthony and Joe Russo, who seemed to please fans the world over with their groundbreaking efforts in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Now, having seen Civil War in all its enormous, energetic and stimulating glory, it seems The Russo’s and Marvel have done it again…and by “done it again”, they have quite literally produced another formulaic, underwritten, overlong story that still doesn’t serve as the sizeable stepping stone into the final concluding battle we’ve been anticipating for several years.
As broad as Civil War is, encompassing an enormous spread of characters, locations and events, the film, amid the slew of incremental chapters, is ultimately rather self-contained and doesn’t serve as the cornerstone that ties in with forthcoming events within the MCU.
After the universal issue of collateral damage is thrust upon The Avengers following yet another cataclysmic but successful mission, the team are presented with an ultimatum. Government officials are moving to make the superheroes sign a registration act, therefore limiting them and their services unless circumstances render them utterly necessary.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) believes this is a good initiative that will help prevent the loss of lives to countless innocent bystanders, whilst Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) believes the duty of The Avengers is to protect the world, no matter the cost.
Persuading various members of the team to chose sides, The Avengers, now divided, attempt to convince the other side to join them, however as tempers mount and truths are revealed, it seems there is no turning back.
While Captain America and Iron Man are having their debates and heated conflicts, a man named Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is plotting an operation that will somehow interfere and cause a further rift between the team. Yes, once again, Marvel have shoehorned in a villain that is boring, confusing, underwritten and painfully superfluous.
While the sardine can of a cast settle their differences, to shift focus elsewhere with yet another character introduction seems idiotic and tiresome. Scrapping Zemo altogether would be beneficial to the story, the runtime and the overall experience.
What works exceptionally well within Civil War are the action set pieces. Rapid, grounded and masterfully choreographed, some of the best sequences of the year can be experienced within the film.
With some much needed downtime in between them, the refresher periods, although lacking in certain areas, provide a time to build the story, explore the shifting dynamics, but most importantly, they give us time to remind ourselves that this is a Marvel film; an event, a fun, mindless experience that we should sit back and enjoy. For all its writing inconsistencies and oversight, having fun is the primary intention for those involved, and they certainly achieve that.
Juggling the majority of the cast of The Avengers, what Joe and Anthony Russo have been able to achieve is a widespread balance across the vast ensemble, for the most part. While the likes of Everrett Ross (Martin Freeman), Crossbones (Frank Grilo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) are severely underwritten and poorly explored, the coverage of the remaining cast is impressively thorough, plus the film does enough to salvage that through it’s aforementioned over the top, loud and rocketing action.
Moreover, with the additions of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) thrust into the mix (both of whom have key roles to play within the central conflict), the juggling act of development, introduction and exploration of various characters is achieved very well.
It may seem unnecessary at this stage to be presented with yet another incarnation of the wisecracking web-slinger, however Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spiderman is introduced and handled refreshingly well.
A younger embodiment of the character, Holland is hand in glove with Spiderman. He has the look, the moves, the suit and the little sh*t attitude to match; all qualities that make him such a delight to watch for his relatively brief screen time. skipping the origin story and giving fans what they’ve been craving for years, there’s no doubt that Parker will be a major positive talking point to emerge from the film.
Civil War may have been promoted as a deep and emotional political stoush, however when it comes down to the crunch, the politically charged tension isn’t the primary theme at play. Extraneous variables cause the bigger stir within the narrative, however they distract and even detract from the more interesting and substantial plot thread.
By eradicating the out of place villain and solely focusing on the two beloved heroes clashing both verbally and in their spandex, Captain America 3 (which is more an Avengers film at the end of the day, let’s not kid ourselves) could’ve been a serious contender to join the pantheon of superhero cinematic excellence.
The conflict is solid enough, the Russo’s have delivered yet another pass mark of an explosion-fest with some additional emotion and humour to give it some actual punch, plus the stunt team masterclass on display is simply awe-inspiring. Marvel’s Civil War has a lot to please the fans, particularly after the cataclysmic failure of DC’s attempt just a month earlier, however in the grand scheme of things, Civil War could be seen purely as a time killer leading up to the grand finale of the imminent Infinty Wars. Regrettably, it’s difficult not to look past that.
The characters are handled well, but there comes a time when formula and repetition grow tiresome and tedious. It’s important however, to remember that Marvel films are designed to be fun in every sense of the word.
If you’re holding out for a stimulating action battle royale, you won’t be disappointed; the conflict is believable, divisive and tense.
This is a fight that thankfully can’t be resolved by having mothers with the same name…