This post is the unedited copy of the review published in MAG-The Weekly on 13th May, 2016.
To Fight the Good Fight – for Peace, Justice and a Differing Point of View
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
In Captain America: Civil War, a line-up of do-gooder heroes, most of whom are thoroughly introduced movies ago, face off against each other because of a difference of opinion. Anyone who believes that issues can be handled without conflict and a body-count (mostly bruises here, because these heroes are, of course good guys), has to be kidding. Peaceful negotiation is a job for the United Nations – a body that would, generally, take a long-time, to come to come to a point of mutual understanding.
Such balderdash, thankfully, doesn’t bother movie-dom – unless, of course, when it makes sense.
The UN’s name, for instance, does pop-up as hero-overseers, because they – mainly Captain America and Iron Man – righteous and drastic in their pursuits, have a tendency to tackle worldwide terrorism without consent, and the consequences often leaves a lot of property damage, and sometimes (spoiler-alert!) death. Triggering this is an early footage reference of Sokovia, the small country that Ultron unbolted from the ground in Avengers: Age of Ultron, roughly a year ago (yes, the Marvel world really lives within our time-scale), and a few other acts in the beginning, that set-up a face-off of ideological standings. Can a super-powered group work within constraints? Would they even arrive in time to make a difference in a crisis situation? Would these situations not impact treaties and politics between countries?
From Captain America’s anti-governance stand-point, the arguments have a good measure of weight. (Iron Man’s argument is borne out of regret of not saving a young citizen’s life).
Captain America: Civil War talks the talk, and the directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, exhibit a knack for dialoged confrontation. Their action, especially in the first hour, is creatively obsolete. By now we’ve seen building blow-up and car chases that obliterate every major and minor traffic law on the planet. The lead-up is somewhat ham-fisted, as Civil War grounds the premise by clumping-in a Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier’s) subplot and the weakest villain motivation since Batman V Superman (of course, that is an unfair comparison; Lex Luthor had Martha). Again, personal tragedies, (which are in-vogue these days in superhero flicks), make things messier and/or interesting – depending on if you are into these preconditions.
Civil War, is a tad disappointing, especially in comparison to the far grander comic book storyline it adapts. At American election-time, though, it is a relevant and stimulating stack of familiar jibber.
The movie boosts up significantly later, when the camera follows a young Peter Parker across his apartment’s hallway. Tom Holland’s squeaky voice, unsure body language, and amateur-heroics, leave all of my personal reservations to dust. He is pretty good, and turns spectacular by the time Civil War reaches its hero-e-hero scuffle. And, man, it is spectacular entertainment. Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Hawkeye turn the skirmish into one of the best, all-out, tag-team matches in superhero movie-history. (Other contestants include both climaxes of the Avengers movies – Marvel, and especially Joss Whedon, know how to handle this thing – and Wonder Woman’s entry in Batman V Superman).
Forget the politics or the minor-squabbles, the big fight is the reason you bought the tickets in the first place, right? Marvel, being a creator-owned unit, has better creative control over its properties and delivers revved-up, pop-corn pageantry that does not betray its characters, motives and motivations, and adds a sensible measure of real-world applicability to their heroes. (Provided, by real-world applicability means people who can levitate, hold-up heavy architecture and kinetically throw you an airplane on your head).
Captain America: Civil War (or the in-between Avengers movie, before Avengers: Infinity War, next year), stars Captain America, Iron Man, the Black Widow, Black Panther, Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, War Machine, the Winter Soldier, the Falcon, Sharon Carter and Spider-Man (and Daniel Bruhl as the weakest villain in Marvel movie history). By now you can guess who-plays-who, and that the acting, production and visual effects are predictably good.