Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War (2016/US)

Julien Faddoul

* (1 star)

d – Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
w – Christopher Markus Stephen McFeely   (Based on the Characters by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby)
ph – Trent Opaloch
pd – Owen Paterson
m – Henry Jackman
ed – Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
cos – Judianna Makovsky

p – Kevin Feige

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Emily VanCamp, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Alfre Woodard, Stan Lee, Hope Davis, Kerry Condon, Jim Rash, Ray Sahetapy, Gene Farber, Florence Kasumba, Amelia Morck, Julianna Guill

Marvel movies at this point feel like a collection of Christmas tree ornaments. Lamentably, it’s not the feeling when you gaze at a deftly decorated tree but rather when you first open the dusty box after 11 months of storage. A box full of old stuff that you kind of remember from last year and now it’s your job to make something stimulating out of them.

Each Marvel film has a fable-like allegory placed upon the characters. This is a perfectly legitimate approach at extracting affinity and insight, yet none of them have been particularly successful at either. They still feel like cold, corporate confections designed not to enrapture but to expand its own brand.

In Captain America: Civil War – the 3rd Captain America film, the 1st film of Phase Three and the 13th film overall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the characters are concerned with the endangerment that their powers inflict on innocent civilians. We know this because all the actors are habitually looking at the ground with solemn expressions during tight close-ups. These expository sequences are interspersed with scenes of either smug comedy or chases and battles, some of which are quite stirring.

After the destruction in Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron and an opening fight here that slays even more citizens in Nigeria, the Avengers face the censure of the global civic, leading the United Nations to create the Sokovia Accords, their goal being to regulate superhero interference.

Vision (Paul Bettany) sees the reason in this procedure, clarifying to the others that the development of more and more “enhanced” humans has meant a concurrent rise in planet-threatening emergencies, and that the Avengers’ very existence is an enflaming event. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) refuses to sign the accord, convinced that the Avengers’ independence is the only way to address concern before it becomes disastrous. As lines are drawn, and team members choose sides, Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) returns, as does a man named Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who seems to be obsessed with Barnes’ activities.

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) feels the worst about everything and can’t believe Rogers doesn’t want to comply. This leads to an even larger rift between to the two than there already was.

Eventually they all fight each other, all of which is the consequence of a myriad of bungled explications: a disharmony between Stark and Pepper Potts that is never explored, a romance between Rogers and Sharon Carter that comes out of nowhere, a villain’s plan that doesn’t really make sense, an extremely thin excuse as to Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch’s (Elizabeth Olsen) sudden state of rage, awkward cameos from Martin Freeman, Alfre Woodard and Marisa Tomei and the overall plunge into vengeance that all the main characters seem to take. I was never in anyway penetrated by the dilemma of what these people had to go through.

Despite this, there are fun moments. Most of them come from the two new additions to the group: T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) whose stealth abilities remain intriguing throughout and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) who is wonderful in the role as he continues to prove to be one of the more charismatic teenage actors today. The rest of the cast are either stiff or hammy, especially Mr Downey who is both in every scene.

The Russo brothers stage their action set-pieces with slightly more aplomb and ambition than before, though I don’t know why they still insist on shooting everything in shutter-speed so that the cinema screen turns into a stuttering monster.

Look, those who want their comic book thirst quenched will probably enjoy this manufactured little adventure. We travel the world, we fight bad guys and we make quips for those who have been paying encyclopedic attention. But these superhero movies, no matter which studio is making them, are barely television let alone cinema. If you think I should just accept this at face value and move on, then fine. That’s actually easy when there is no other value to be found.

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