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Review: Captain America – Civil War

 
 
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Speelduur: 147 min.
 
Taal: Engels
 
In de bioscoop vanaf: 27 April 2016
 
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Goed


Epische actie. Beste live-action Spider-Man tot hiertoe. Mooi debuut van de Black Panther. Focus op Captain America, Iron Man en Winter Soldier ondanks overaanbod personages. Donkerdere en serieuzere toon, maar nog steeds voldoende Marvel-humor. Memorabele vertolkingen.

Minder


Alweer geen memorabele slechteriken. Weinig diepgang. Weet nauwelijks af te wijken van de typische Marvel Studios-formule. Tikkeltje voorspelbaar. Weinig risico's.


Een maandje na Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, krijgen ook Marvel’s Captain America en Iron Man het aan de stok en worden de Avengers in twee kampen gesplitst. Welke strijd is epischer? En hoe brengen Black Panther en de nieuwe Spider-Man het ervan af? Lees het in de Brainfreeze-review van Captain America: Civil War…

Posted 18/04/2016 by

 
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I’m sorry Tony, but he’s my friend…

Anthony & Joe Russo delivered the best movie Marvel’s Phase 2 had to offer with the darker and a bit more serious Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). With Captain America: Civil War – the sequel to both The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron – the Russo brothers get to open Phase 3 of the MCU and bring the most popular Marvel storyline of the past ten years to the big screen. Just like in Marvel’s Civil War comic by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven (2006-2007), the Avengers are split down the middle and an intense struggle between Captain America and Iron Man unfolds. At the same time we get to see a whole bunch of Marvel favorites return (yes this is Avengers 2.5) and both the Black Panther and the newest version of Spider-Man make their cinematic debut.

One year after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America (Chris Evans) leads a new Avengers team. When they get involved in another international incident that leaves several innocent casualties, the United Nations propose a new law – the Sokovia Accords – that tries to keep superheroes in check. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is all for it, Captain America is against it and the Avengers are split down the middle. It doesn’t get any easier when Cap’s oldest friend Bucky Barnes, aka the ex-HYDRA assassin Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), gets involved in the conflict against his will. And then there’s a mystery villain that’s seemingly manipulating events from the shadows…

cwbucky

Just like The Winter Soldier, Civil War takes one of Marvel’s recent storylines from the comics and shapes it into a new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the original Civil War story revolved heavily around the sake of secret identities in the Marvel universe, the movie is more about the responsibilies that superheroes have in trying to keep collateral damage to a minimum and managing the political landscape of the world (there aren’t that much superheroes with secret identities in the Marvel movies anyway, so that point is moot). The Superhuman Registration Act becomes the Sokovia Accords, but the ideological – freedom versus security – conflict between Avengers leaders Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) remains central to the narrative. At the same time there’s a much bigger role for Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who makes the struggle between the two heroes all the more personal…

Civil War – the movie – also feels like an event. It may be smaller in scope than the comics version, but the build-up in the AvengersCaptain America and Iron Man films was certainly there. This isn’t really a movie that can stand on its own fully, but yet another episode in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although an important one that certainly feels like an end point of what came before). Just as they did earlier in The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers shake up the Marvel status quo with several consequences for the rest of Phase 3. There’s certainly some foreshadowing for later films, but nothing too distracting. At the same time it’s a breath of fresh air that this movie for once doesn’t revolve around an Infinity Stone MacGuffin.

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Chris Evans again shows why he’s a perfect Captain America and his chemistry/bromance with the tormented Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is there. Robert Downey Jr. is again amazing as a bit more serious, brooding and wiser Tony Stark. The script underlines the motivations of both characters better than the comic did. You really get a sense of where both parties are coming from (in stark contrast to the comic – where Iron Man was demonized a little – here Captain America come across as the more stubborn one). It gets increasingly difficult to pick a side as the movie develops. Both heroes are right, which makes their eventual conflict all the more tragic. It remains, however, a Captain America movie.

Civil War is jokingly called Avengers 2.5. The Russo brothers had a difficult task ahead of them in trying to juggle so many well-known characters. The primary focus of the narrative remains on Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky, however. The other characters are kind of interchangeable, but they still get their moments in the sun. Avenging women Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are the most important ones, “sidekicks” Falcon (Anthony Mackie) & War Machine (Don Cheadle) get some clever lines and action sequences and there’s a very funny guest-starring role for the newest Marvel movie hero: Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). We would like to have seen more of the chemistry between Scarlet Witch and an under-used Vision (Paul Bettany), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) doesn’t get to do much as well and the romance between Captain America and Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) falls kind of flat. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) has a short, but charismatic presence, his first since The Incredible Hulk (2008).

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Of the new faces Chadwick Boseman especially shines as T’Challa/Black Panther. The mythology behind Marvel’s African superhero and his home country Wakanda are little by little introduced in the Marvel movieversie in preparation of his solo movie in 2018. This isn’t the calculating, wise king from the comics, but still a young Black Panther who is full of rage. His origin flows into the narrative of the movie quite well and makes him the most important character, after our three main players. Apart from several great action scenes and fighting moves, T’Challa has an interesting story arc which makes you want to find out more next year. Don’t focus too much on his accent, however.

The question on every fanboy’s lips is: what about Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man? While Marvel’s biggest superhero could have in fact been left out of the movie perfectly without disrupting the plot one bit, his appearance is memorable. In his limited screentime as Peter Parker and a bigger fighting scene as the web spinner, Marvel finally teaches everyone on how to bring a live-action Spider-Man to life. We’ve only had a small dose, so it remains too soon to make a definitive statement, but here the Russos and Tom Holland finally brought a Spidey to the big screen that’s swinging straight out of the comics. It’s the best live-action Spider-Man to date. His somewhat nerdy, but charming admiration for Tony Stark as Peter Parker, his endless quips and one-liners during the fight as Spider-Man (that Star Wars reference!) and enormous display of power against the other heroes. Everything. Is. Just. Right.

Civil War Spider-Man

There are, however, downsides to the gigantic character roster. Martin Freeman doesn’t get to do a lot as UN task force commander Everett Ross (but we’ll probably see him again in Black Panther). Emily VanCamps screentime as Agent 13 is very limited as well and Frank Grillo as Crossbones is nothing more than a plot device. Again Marvel Studios shows that they have difficulties bringing convincing villains to life on the big screen. Daniel Brühl is the main villain Zemo (not quite Baron Zemo). A master manipulator operating from the shadows – think Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman last month, but with less flair – armed with a very good reason for his plans, Brühl does what he can with the role. It’s a very loose adaptation of the character from the comics (although there are shards of the Captain America: Prisoner of War story by Ed Brubaker). But eventually he – like almost any other Marvel movie villain – doesn’t get a lot of depth. This Zemo is quite interchangeable and has a generic, borderline lazy back story and a master plan that rests too much on variables and coincidence. The conflict between the heroes is what drives this movie. We expected the villains to let us down again, and they did.

What doesn’t disappoint, are the amazing action sequences. Especially the big fight between the Avengers in a German airport is a sight to behold. Every hero gets his/her moment in one of the best superhero action scenes since the battle of New York in The Avengers (2012). The fight takes place near the end of the second act and it is here that the movie peaks. Especially Spider-Man and Ant-Man steal the show and bring some needed levity and Joss Whedon-like banter in what is otherwise a pretty straight forward superhero action movie. It’s refreshing that the third act isn’t an even bigger superhero slugfest, but a much smaller – though more emotional and brutal – fight between our main players. A welcome change of pace compared to the standard Marvel Studios (or superhero movie in general) formula. After the more practical stuntwork in The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers show that they can master the better CGI action work as well. They still need a bit of practice though, they’re not quite up there with Joss Whedon or Zack Snyder yet. Like in The Winter Soldier, there’s too much distracting shaky cam and too much quick cuts that take much away from the action scenes.

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We get the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man exactly one month after the fight between their predecessors (and major examples) Superman and Batman. It’s almost impossible for comic book fans to not make a comparison between Civil War and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Both films are very similar in plot, structure and character types and both try to place the superhero archetype in a more realistic, political context. Is Civil War better than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? No, it most definitely is not. But the Marvel fans probably couldn’t care less. Civil War may not be as deep or epic as Dawn of Justice, but that also means that there’s more space for the typical Marvel popcorn blockbuster fun and clever character moments. Both films are brilliant on different levels.

Because of lighter and more fun characters like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Falcon and Ant-Man there are more jokes than in predecessor The Winter Soldier, but the main tone is still pretty serious and darker than most of the Marvel movies. The Russo’s manage to find a balance between levity and seriousness, so we can’t wait until they step it up for Avengers: Infinity War parts 1 & 2. It does, however, mean that Civil War still plays it pretty safe and doesn’t take too much risk – unlike the source material from the comics. Civil War remains a quite kid-friendly and pretty predictable and formulaic superhero film. Although the Marvel Studios formula is getting a little old, the charismatic performances, the truthfullness to the comic characters, epic action sequences and popcorn fun factor are enough to cover up the movie’s flaws. Again the movie knows how to bring the fantastic Marvel universe to life on the big screen, that’s what matters.

 

Marvel’s Phase 3 is off to an epic start. Captain America: Civil War is right up there next to The Winter Soldier (2014), Iron Man (2008), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and The Avengers (2012) as one of the best Marvel Studios films to date. It’s probably the most rewatchable Avengers flick and it clearly makes the Captain America trilogy Marvel’s best movie trilogy. A must-see and another triump for Marvel Studios. If you’re a fan, of course.

Captain America: Civil War lands in theatres on april 27th.

Whose Side Are You On?

Captain America: Civil War post-credits scènes (Spoilers!)

Mid-credits:

Bucky/Winter Soldier – minus an arm – is put back into cryo sleep. Voluntarily, for everybody’s safety. This time he gets to stay in an ultra modern facility in Wakanda, home of the Black Panther. Captain America says to T’Challa that when “they” (Iron Man’s team of Avengers) get to know this, they will come for Bucky. T’Challa answers that they can try. Zoom out to see a piece of the Wakandan jungle and a huge Panther statue…

Post-credits:

A funny little conversation between Peter Parker and aunt May in Peter’s room, where Spidey is nursing his wounds from the big battle. He’s tinkering around with his new toys and the Spider-Man logo appears on the ceiling. Afterwards we get the message: Spider-Man will return…

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