Mixed feelings, but I was entertained at least part of the way. Captain America: Civil War has something that was missing from at least the last few Marvel comic book movie entries: Enough interesting non-action scenes where social issues and heady themes, no matter how pat it is eventually trotted, carry a certain intrigue. With these Avengers responsible for innocent casualties of war, should the United Nations council be in charge of their jurisdiction? Unlike the atrocious “Age of Ultron,” it has scenes of normal visual interest that aren’t dependent on computer effects. The acting is varied but enthusiastic, and actors like William Hurt, Daniel Bruhl and Chadwick Boseman get to, you know, act! The action scenes are a noisy demolition derby, and amidst them I often asked myself for instance, whose side is Panther on? He’s just one of many, by the way.
This time, yes, it is civil war. The good guys can’t get along, and they start bashing each other with the intent of, uh, pulverizing them into half-conscious submission so one side can arrest the other – or so I think that’s the plan. I don’t know what the average moviegoer desires during such scenes, but here’s mine: I hope Iron Man kills Captain America, and not because Robert Downey Jr. is a more accomplished actor than Chris Evans. Really, I’m sorry about this, but Captain America – once a golden boy in the relatively square but truly enjoyable part one of the franchise – is being some kind of self-righteous jerk this time out (he wants to protect the rights of the Winter Soldier, who was the centerpiece issue of 2014’s installment, what else?, “The Winter Soldier”).
Then I realized the name of the movie is “Captain America,” and so I knew that would never happen. I knew Captain America would not die, or get too badly hurt, or lose his clout, or even undergo penance.
The civil war scene comes to its big blows at the airport, and it’s a bombardment series of big ego superheroes doing smackdown routines with each other. The choreography is stupendous, in a way, yet if the movie had dared something – I mean, it was part of the thematic set-up – then the superheroes’ mêlée should have gotten in the way, and upset, no – let’s say collided – with a commercial airplane flight path.
These franchise tentpoles never follow through on their hot topics, at this point, they have to be enjoyed for their asides. Asides, as in piecemeal moments. There is some funny repartee with Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) with anybody who is willing to listen to him. Spiderman (Tom Holland, being primed for a reboot) makes something of an origin character appearance as he is still learning what he’s capable of, and he gets a taste of big-league action. I’m glad they’re there. I like Anthony Mackie more than I like Don Cheadle – just in these movies – the former is Falcon, the latter War Machine. Though, they could exchange their set of wings and I wouldn’t care. Scarlett Johansson, I want to say is gorgeous, but in these movies, she’s way self-serious and in need of a hair-dye.
I do think there’s a couple of lame, non-accomplished, non-superheroes involved. For instance, I kept asking myself, who bothered asking Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to this war party anyway? And I think Emily VanCamp, who plays Agent 13, is kind of a boring chick. So boring, that I prefer the movie to cut back to Johansson, who I realize in such snap-judgment moments, I take for granted when it comes to her movie star power.
Now were’s a self-indulgent writer’s aside: When it comes to Elizabeth Olsen (she reprises Scarlett Witch), am I the only man in America who asks, What happened to the promise of the talent you displayed in “Martha Marcy May Marlene?”
“Civil War,” despite its ever-diminishing suspense (What’s really at stake? Answer: Nothing.), moves at a fast clip before it’s over. When it’s over, I asked, “What did I just see?” I know this is an obvious complaint, but all these movies are designed just to be a set-up for the next one, and the next one after that, because nothing is ever finalized (the goal is to milk the mass consumerist money from the undiscerning American moviegoer). So obvious a statement of mine, but how can it not be said when it’s oh so true!
146 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION-ADVENTURE / COMIC BOOK LORE / WEEKEND AFTERNOON MOVIE