I’ve long believed that Captain America has provided some of the very best movies to emerge from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that trend continues with “Captain America: Civil War.”
Based on a series than ran in the comic books a decade or so ago, “Civil War” features Cap and the rest of the Avengers (at least the characters that appear in this movie) being held to account by the governments of the world for the collateral damage they inflict while going about their business of defeating supervillians like Loki and evil organizations like Hydra. A compromise is worked out; the Avengers can stay in business if they agree to end their independence and submit to taking orders from a U.N. organization. Half the team, led by a slightly conscience-stricken Tony Stark, are amenable to the idea. The other half, led by a wary Captain America, want nothing to do with diplomats and politicians. Add in a bad-guy with an agenda of his own, and the result is an action-packed but also character-driven superhero movie that rises above the pack of this genre.
While clearly sympathetic to Cap’s point of view (the title is, after all, Captain America: Civil War) the filmmakers (and Robert Downey) do not allow the pro-control Avengers to turn into cardboard sell-outs. They also do an exemplary job of choreographing the action and integrating characters into the storyline, including the Black Panther and a few surprises. Virtually every major character has a good moment or scene or two, which isn’t always the case with these multi-character movies, where it can seem the director is less of a storyteller than a traffic cop.
The film’s action set-piece, a show down between the two sides at a German airport where, old friendships aside, no punches are pulled, is extremely well done. Unlike some other directors who seem to set these sequences in darkest nights with rain pouring down, obscuring everything, like a van Gogh painted in a thunderstorm, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely shoot their epic fight in broad daylight. They pay attention to detail and excel at showing how, even in combat, the action is driven by the individual characters making individual decisions, instead of the typical guys-dressing-up-in-tin-cans-and-knocking-each-other-down fight scenes in comic book movies. The filmmakers also add several plot twists and turns, and at a few key moments upend expectations.
This DVD package includes very few features, which is fine with me, I hardly ever watch them.
Recommended for: Fans of really good comic book movies.