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Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain America: Civil War
Zehra Abbas /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait to rent it
The enduring appeal of the superhero mythology can probably be traced to those adolescent years when fevered emotions and hormones found an outlet in the adventures of these spandexed gods and goddesses. For many, they also served as their first brush with the idea of a complex moral compass. Captain America: Civil War raises an issue deeply pertinent to our times - collateral damage. However, if the film's intellectual treatment of the premise were to be emulated by kids who love comic books, you'd find a whole lotta teeth on the playground.

The film begins with a brilliant action set-piece in Lagos, Nigeria. It's all dexterous choreography, deft camera moves, fantastic CGI and expert editing. You nod approvingly, secure in the knowledge that your adrenal glands are in for a ride. The sequence ends badly for the Avengers, with a number of civilian casualties, and an international uproar that is followed by a UN resolution calling for the Avengers' autonomy to be curtailed, and for the group brought within the ambit of international law.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is surprisingly game, gnawed by guilt from the past, while Captain America (Chris Evans), surprisingly, rebels against the notion. One deep chasm later, the group is clearly divided into Team Cap and Team Iron Man. Little do they know that they are being expertly manipulated by a most colourless villain, but more on that later.

Initially, the debate on the morality of collateral damage is engaging. Here, Downey steals the show from Evans, but you're just happy that Evans is on show (there's a helicopter scene later that'll make your granny swoon). The two actors do a credible job of giving real angst and feeling to their sides of the argument, and the escalations that follow are also believable. However, much like in real life, it seems impossible to arrive at any real solution regarding an issue this complex. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo deal with it by lifting their directorial megaphones and declaring "Let the fistfights begin." Once they do, the debate gets obfuscated. Frustratingly, the makers keep dragging you back to it, and that does affect the pace of the film.

Yes, we can throw around all the right words - hegemony, unilateralism, ethical crisis, modern day relevance - and intellectualize the film's intention. However, let's not forget one crucial point - these guys are in tights. Now, do you want to seat them behind a desk and indulge in endless talks or do you want to see them dropkick? We thought so. Let's talk about the action, then.

The Avengers channel their MIA compatriots Thor and Hulk, and quite literally, smash their way through the crisis. The film is full of entertaining sequences, but the standout scene is the smackdown between Team Cap and Team Iron Man. All you Marvel fanboys/girls - this is your comic book fantasy come true.

It takes place at an abandoned airport, and with civilians and the central dilemma neatly put out of the way, the superheroes let loose. This isn't action on an epic scale but vintage comic book pounding, complete with humorous quips and big explosions. Do remember that this is the apex of the film, else you'll be disappointed by the surprisingly bland climactic slugfest between two biggies. It seems the makers wanted to end the film on an emotional highpoint, but you probably need to have the Marvel mythology running through your veins to get misty-eyed at that moment.

The ensemble is huge - there are twelve superheroes - and that can either make your day or it can drive you up the wall. If you're a DC universe fan, like your reviewer, it's a little hard to keep up with all of these characters when the pummeling begins. In terms of screen time as well, despite the film being two hours and 36 minutes long, it's next to impossible to even consider the notion of character arcs. So, with the exception of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), none of the others really registers.

The new entrants, however, are a welcome addition. Much of the levity that has been missing from recent superhero movies is resurrected by the arrival of Spiderman (Tom Holland stands out) and Ant Man (Paul Rudd is just having fun). A certain patrician grace is also introduced with the Black Panther, ably enacted by Chadwick Boseman.

And then the scriptwriters probably went binge drinking, and picked Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) as the villain of the piece. What can we say? That rubbery tofu your vegan friend won't touch is more flavourful than him. Half the fun of a superhero story is a truly malevolent, maniacal villain. Zemo is given a veneer of complication with his secret motivation, but he's neither creative nor complex. You'll shed a wistful tear for Loki - and that brings us to the question of inevitable comparisons.

There is no escaping the comparison with that sodden disappointment, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, owing to the same ethical premise. Let us be clear, Captain America: Civil War is a better film. However, a more valid comparison might be with a film from the Marvel universe instead - like The Avengers. Joss Whedon's film was comic-book gold because it never lost sight of the entertainment factor of these stories.

Captain America: Civil War can't seem to decide which route to take - entertain or provoke thought. Unfortunately it tries to do both, though the makers' forte is clearly the former. The audience is bound to get annoyed at being unnecessarily and repeatedly dragged away from aspartame action to morose reflection that goes nowhere. This kind of unnecessary posturing is slowly and surely becoming the bane of all superhero films. After all, not everyone can channel the brilliance of Christopher Nolan's paradigm-shifting Batman trilogy. Therefore, to all such filmmakers, we send this simple message: "Your source material is a comic book, dude. Relax."

Either way, Captain America: Civil War is one of the better superhero films to be made in recent times. Grab those 3D glasses, and head to the nearest Imax this weekend.
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Captain America: Civil War (english) reviews
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
Can watch again - NA
Good for kids - NA
Good for dates - NA
Wait to rent it - NA
ShivaKK on 9th May 2016, 8:52pm | Permalink
I didn't like the movie for one reason. They made Spiderman just 'KICK a SIDE'.
Jo on 6th May 2016, 10:45pm | Permalink
Movie Review : Captain America- Civil War - A visual action spectacle with who's-who of Marvel superheroes (well, Thor and Hulk missing). Have a go people, you will be entertained. It's a promise.
Who cares about a story when you have all your favorite super-heroes performing stunts that defy all known laws of physics. Bye bye Newton! Here come the Avengers .. Civil War, as the name suggests is a fight among the Avengers with Captain America and Iron Man leading the opposite sides.
When an op in Africa results in Wanda (telekinetic lady) inadvertently causing deaths of few civilians, many leaders of the world unite to put some sanctions on the Avengers and want to make them answerable to a governing body. Tony Stark (Iron Man), driven by his own guilt, agrees to the re-org, but Steve Rogers (Captain America), seeing it as a political agenda, vehemently opposes it and thus starts the division of the Avengers. All the fights and battles that ensue form the rest of the movie.
This has a load of characters and none of them disappoints.
Captain America- Usually the voice of reason, but in this movie you see some questionable decisions he makes and that's what makes him more human than super.
Iron Man - Guilt-ridden, he is not as witty as he could be but still entertains nevertheless
Black Widow - She seriously kicks some... The first fight sequence itself would have sold me the movie. Scarlett rocks!!
Black Panther - First I mistook him to be related to batman but since this is Marvel, it couldn't be. He is alright!
Spiderman - Funniest of all. And there is a surprise at the end credits for all his fans
Ant-Man - He has a small role but he totally rocks it!
Clint Barton - Called back from retirement, he still hasn't lost his touch
Sam Wilson - The guy with the bird costume, who knows another guy.. remember Michael Pena from Ant-Man ????
Vision - The Ultron guy, who is becoming more human and probably is in quest for power that the infinity stone weilds..
Wanda - With some super-cool powers, she is uber cool!
It was so much fun watching them all together.. Can't wait for Marvel's next adventure...
There were around 500 people in this huge theater (all sold out) and not one of them left the theater after the movie ended. There are 2 end-credit tidbits. So don't leave until they ask you to :P
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