Movie Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: Civil War

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captain america civil warMarvel/Disney
2016
PG-13

“Ok. Anybody on our side hiding any shocking, or fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose, I’m open to suggestion.”

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow and Hawkeye must pick a side.

I’ve decided, right off the bat, to begin this particular review with a hearty SPOILERS AHEAD. You’ve been warned. There, that aside…

I have to admit that I was a bit late to the game when it came to the movie adaptations of Marvel Comics’ Captain America. Since he was never my thing in the funnybook format, naturally I didn’t really bother seeing the first movie until it was out on DVD. Then, even though I enjoyed that one, I still waited for the sequel to hit the local Second Run theater house to watch that one on a big screen. With Captain America: Civil War, I went to see it opening weekend, the Saturday morning, with some of the Exalted Geeks with. Then we went to lunch and recorded a podcast of our thoughts on the movie, which you can totally listen to here. But, I’m also gonna stick my own personal thoughts on the movie here on my bligity-blog. Because movie review. It’s what I do. Anyway…

Right off the bat, I’ll have to admit that Captain America: Civil War felt more like Avengers 2.5 rather than an actual stand-alone Captain America movie. It pretty much has all the current Avengers in there, save for Thor and Hulk, along with Bucky / Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and the very first appearance of Spider-Man and the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We start with a bit of a flashback to 1991, where the Winter Soldier is reactivated for a mission that involves the theft of some liquid packets from the back of somebody’s trunk. Then, we arrive to the present day, where the current roster of the Avengers are in Lagos to stop Crossbones from stealing a deadly biological weapon, which doesn’t end well when Crossbones blows himself up and inadvertently causes the death of several dozen citizens, and injuring hundreds more. The public blame the actions on the Avengers, which leads to the world governments to enact a policy to oversee and control the Avengers due to this issue. Heading up this accord is the King of Wakanda, due to the blast killing the Wakandan humanitarian workers who were there. Due to an encounter with the mother of one of the victims who was in Sokovia when Ultron was battling the Avengers the year previous, Tony Stark is all for the Sokovia Accords, while Captain America is naturally dubious about the whole thing. Things escalate when the UN building in Vienna where the Accords is being ratified is bombed, killing (among others) King T’Chaka of Wakanda, by someone who is identified as the Winter Soldier. Captain America wants to bring in Bucky himself, peacefully, while S.H.I.E.L.D. has orders to shoot him on sight; T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, however, has an agenda all his own to take down Bucky himself, as the Black Panther. Captain America manages to find Bucky and barely escape with him; Bucky maintaining his innocence. Turns out one Helmut Zemo is the real Vienna Bomber, and while Bucky, Falcon and Cap are ultimately captured, they manage to escape when Zemo sneaks in and brainwashes Bucky back to the Winter Soldier and causes him to go berzerk again. To take Zemo down, Cap and Falcon decide to not wait for authorization and go rogue, recruiting Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man in the process. Meanwhile, Iron Man’s got his own posse, consisting of Black Widow, Vision, Black Panther, War Machine, and a newly-suited Spider-Man. They rumble at an airport, resulting in Cap and Bucky getting away, but the rest of Cap’s team getting captured and sent to a submersible prison. Iron Man discovers that Bucky was innocent all along, and catches up with Cap and Bucky as they discover the abandoned compound where the Winter Soldier project that created Bucky was at, catching up with Zemo. Zemo reveals that it was never his intention to create more Winter Soldiers, then shows the video of Brainwashed Bucky killing Tony Stark’s parents back in 1991, causing Iron Man to go mental and attack Bucky, which leads to Cap to jump in, leading to another massive throwdown in the bunker. The fight ends in a draw, Zemo is captured, and the movie ends with the team still divided and bitter.

Obviously, I left out a good amount of details that you’re just going to have to watch to find out for yourself. Can’t spoil the entire thing, now can I? Regardless, it still took a lot of words to even get that Reader’s Digest Condensed Version, which should tell you what kind of epic scope this movie was. Still, with all of these characters crammed into the movie, Captain America: Civil War still gelled completely, working in a way that a certain other superhero team-up movie that was released earlier this year couldn’t seem to be able to do with just three. When you get past the action (which was done very well) and the various comic book superhero drops (and there were many), the story was still engaging and streamlined, with character development on each one that invests you with the outcomes. Also, the story didn’t take the easy route with the resolution. It was a very dark ending, kind of the Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the two new introductions to the superhero stable of the movies–namely, Spider-Man and Black Panther–they did a good thing by touching on the origins without spoon-feeding us and insulting our collective intelligence. And dare I say it…I am all on board with this new Spider-Man. Bring on the stand-alone movie. Sony, you did good by letting Marvel play with its property again. Fox could learn a thing or two by that.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is a very good, very entertaining superhero action movie that you should try and see on the big screen while you can. It’s heads and shoulders waaaaaaaay better than DC’s attempt this year. If that one is still leaving a bitter taste in your head, watch Captain America: Civil War as a nice palate cleanser.

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Movie Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: The Winter Solder

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Captain America_ The Winter Soldier Movie PosterMarvel Entertainment
2014
PG-13

“How do we tell the good guys from the bad guys?”
“If they’re shooting at you, they’re bad.”

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D. C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S. H. I. E. L. D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy–the Winter Soldier.

I’m just going to have to come out and say it: I, your beloved Uncle NecRo, identify as a post-Comic Book Geek. I used to be all about the comic book love…then Marvel more or less killed it for me with the all but universally reviled “One More Day” Spider-Man storyline, with DC’s New 52 being the final nail in the coffin of my former obsession of the four-color print medium. But, that didn’t kill my love of modern superheroes, and fortunately we’re still in the midst of a superhero movie renaissance, and thus I can get a decent geek fix without feeling overcharged for something that normally boils down to a quick couple’a minutes read on the crapper.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the second Captain America movie to be produced by Marvel Studios as part of the Marvel Movie Universe, and takes place two years after the events of the first Avengers movie. The Cap is working for S.H.I.E.L.D. under Nick Fury, and is first seen in this movie helping to free hostages on a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel by mercenaries lead by none other than Batroc the Leaper. Geek-boy senses, tingling. The Black Widow is along, and seems to have a different agenda than Cap was expecting, and thus after everything is taken care of, confronts Fury about the deviation and not being told about it. Cap is then told about some satellites that were designed to eliminate potential threats, information of which was stored on the ship, but was unable to decrypt. Fury is then ambushed by the titular Winter Soldier, escapes and gives Cappy a flash drive containing the data from the ship, and then is gunned down and presumably dies in surgery. Cap is then declared persona non grata by S.H.I.E.L.D., and is now hunted as a fugitive, with only a small handful of friends he can trust, including the Falcon, a former Air Force pararescueman with some badass wings. Slowly, they peel back the layers of the conspiracy, discover that the Winter Soldier is actually Bucky all brainwashed for evil, and work to bring down Hydra within, take down the death satellites, and maybe try to save Bucky in the process.

In the comics, Bucky was killed off (implied, anyway) in the 1940s, after the comic book itself was discontinued in the Golden Age, and remained that way through the decades. The joke was that, in the Marvel Universe, the only characters that stay dead are Bucky and Uncle Ben. Then they brought him back, when they revealed in 2005 that the mysterious Winter Solider that was introduced in Captain America comics was in reality Captain America’s former sidekick all grown up and brainwashed for evil. Not to mention looking rather good and young thanks to being put in cryo-freeze in-between missions for the bad guys. It’s only a matter of time before they figure out a way to bring back Uncle Ben, and make him one of Spider-Man’s rogues.

I bring that up because, admittedly, I never really got into the Captain America comics. Like a lot of the Marvel icons that I never got into reading, I am familiar with certain story arcs and character developments and such. And the Winter Soldier arc, due to the waves it caused in fandom with the reveal of his identity, was one I was well familiar with without having to actually read the story line. All things considered, it makes sense to introduce him into this movie, despite not being considered one of Captain America’s “classic” villains. The Winter Soldier seems to work well with the overarching story that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is telling, and let’s face it—Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one fine piece of movie storytelling in and of itself. And again, I didn’t think I’d be all that interested, until I decided to go watch it at the second-run theater out of boredom. It’s yet another fine action adventure movie, filled with some great action scenes, snappy dialogue, a good spy thriller undertone, and enough fanboy nods that even I was able to point out. The movie is a lot darker in tone than the previous, and they did a very good job at making the Captain a much deeper and palpable character without loosing the inspirational icon in the process.

Once again, I have to admit that I enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier much more than I had anticipated. Unlike the first Captain America movie (which I have yet to get around to reviewing as of this writing, my bad), I at least caught it on the big screen at the El Cheepo second-run theater. Recommended watching.