Vol. 9, No. 16 – May 11 – May 24, 2016 – Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War/ 3 ½ palm trees
by Eduardo Victoria/eduardovictory@yahoo.com

Thirteen films into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War is a home run that acts as a mid-act payoff to their long-form narrative, but also a sobering dissection of everything we’ve seen so far. The result is a film that’s highly textured and nuanced, crossing a global manhunt with a striking, psychological exploration of familial strife.

Directed confidently by Joe and Anthony Russo, the film is both Marvel and blockbuster spectacle in peak form, delivering a staggering mixture of thought-provoking ideas, epic brawls and set pieces, but most importantly, keen emotional resonance.

The film begins in Lagos, as Steve Rogers’ Captain America and his team of Avengers are hot on the tail of Hydra agent Brock Rumlow (Crossbones). A showdown occurs, but meets a tragic ending, prompting the U.N. to enact something called the Sokovia Accords, which would effectively remove the Avengers’ agency and have them report and act only when the U.N. sees fit. With the collateral damage from their past weighing heavily on each Avenger, the team is split by the Accords, especially after another terrorist attack pits Capt. Rogers’ long-lost friend, Bucky (The Winter Soldier), straight in the middle of a worldwide manhunt. Needless to say, it’s a defining moment for the divided team of heroes, and one that will change their bonds forever.

Aside from the film’s miraculous juggling of all the numerous ideas and plot points (which never feel overstuffed, but organic and earned), the film is a success because of its ability to showcase Steve, Tony and the Avengers as fully formed people who exist outside of their symbolism. After watching each character evolve (or in Steve’s case, change those around him) through numerous films, it’s fitting that we finally get a story that counts the cost of their heroism; what it means to the world they’ve changed, the personal sacrifices they’ve made and how its affected them as a family.

This film wouldn’t have worked as well if we didn’t get to see them first in Age of Ultron, or if Steve and Tony hadn’t already been so clearly defined outside of their colorful uniforms by their own stand-alone films. Everything in the story lives and dies by how well it positions these two good men on opposite sides of the same coin, never taking sides, but instead digging deep into a post-modern deconstruction of heroism and its global implications. Stark and Steve play great antagonists (but not villains), makes things painful and truly awful when the film takes a dark turn during its more intimate third act.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this is the darkest Marvel film yet, but there’s somehow a playfulness that doesn’t betray its thoughtfulness, instead bringing out the humanity of its heroes through some well-timed, sporadic humor and jaw-dropping action.

Rated PG-13. Now playing at Century Downtown 10. 146 minutes.

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