Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

(Movie Review)

My History With this Franchise
I have seen 9 of the 12 movies leading up to this: Iron Man, Iron Man 2Iron Man 3Captain America, Captain America 2ThorThe Incredible HulkThe Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
I'm 3 movies behind right now, because I still haven't seen Thor 2, Avengers 2, or Ant-Man.

* I often find in these Marvel movies that I have to work really hard to maintain my suspension of disbelief as so many rules about physics and human physiology are constantly being broken.   During the fight scenes I'll be thinking to myself something like: "This is awesome.  This is awesome.  This is awesome...Wait, that's just physically impossible.  This is awesome. This is awesome....Wait, there's no way he could have survived that fall." etc.
It takes me right out of the movie, because it's a constant reminder that I'm just watching a Hollywood film, and that none of these characters and situations are at all real.

* As I said in my review of The Avengers, I continue to be impressed by how these Marvel movies are able to incorporate so many characters and continuity plot points from previous movies, and yet still have a story that makes sense.  They're juggling a lot of balls in this movie, and they manage to keep them all in the air.

* Just when you thought you were getting bored with formulaic superhero movies, Marvel shakes things up and gives you a completely different kind of plot.

* Comic book superheroes have a history of fighting each other on the flimsiest of pretexts just to sell books.  But in this case, the motivation for both sides seemed sufficiently justified (for a comic book movie, that is.)

* I agree with what everyone else has been saying: Tom Holland is a lot of fun as Spiderman.

* Also in agreement with everyone else: that airport fight scene was the best fight scene we've ever had in a comic book movie.

The Review 
We live in interesting times.  Many articles have already been written about how in the past 15 years geek culture has totally taken over mainstream culture.
Examining how or why this happened will have to be another subject for another day.  For now, I'll just say that this movie is a prime example of the phenomenon.
It's masquerading as a Hollywood blockbuster, but don't fool yourself--this is one of the geekiest movies ever released.
It appeals to the comic book geek who loves seeing grown men fly around in ridiculous outfits and fight monsters.
And it appeals to the continuity geek, who loves to be rewarded for remembering and obsessing over plot details from previous films.
And it appeals to the debate-club geek, who enjoys arguing about political hypotheticals.
Me?  I'm a huge geek.  So naturally I loved this movie.  But my poor girlfriend was bored out of her mind for the 2 and a half hours.
So, consider yourself warned.  Non geeks should stay well away from this movie.
But if you're a fellow geek: this is the greatest superhero movie we've seen yet.

One more caveat: this is another one of those movies that's essentially 2 hours of non-stop fighting.  If you don't like action movies, consider yourself warned.

Other Notes
The poor girlfriend had not seen any of the 12 movies leading into this one.  Before the movie, I didn't consider it necessary to catch her up on any of the backstory.  "Basically all you need to know is that there are a bunch of superheros, and they fight stuff," I said (in my attempt to sum up the previous 12 movies.)
This actually turned out to be wrong.  You do need to be familiar with a lot of the backstory to make sense out of this movie.  If you don't know who Captain America is, or what his relationship to Bucky is, or how he got frozen, or who Agent Carter is...then large parts of this movie are not going to make any sense at all.
Consider yourself warned.

I'm in complete agreement with this reviewer.

Given that this is the best superhero movie ever, and given that each movie should be judged against its genre, I'm tempted to give it a full 10 stars.  But I just can't bring myself to give 10 stars to a silly superhero movie.  So it gets knocked down to 9.  And then it loses one more star for blatantly ignoring the laws of physics and gravity so many times (and causing me to struggle to maintain my suspension of disbelief.)  So 8 stars it is.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky on Black Lives Matter: Why Won't U.S. Own Up to History of Slavery & Racism?


dpreimer said...

I am booked to see it, and will almost certainly enjoy it. I've been surprised by how infectious the Captain America movies have proven to be, especially since I hated the first movie. BUt Chris Evans makes the difference, IMO. Funnyt how the right actor can make a completely unsympathetic comic book character surprisingly, deeply, sympathetic.

HOWEVER, having said all that, if you can't take a date who knows nothing about this universe, then this is on some level a deficient movie.

Joel Swagman said...

Let me know what you think after you see it.

Yes, I agree. The first Captain America was underwhelming. However in retrospect, it now seems obvious that the first Captain America was only there to set up the franchise. They needed to establish that Captain America was a man out of his time period, and that Bucky was his long lost childhood friend, in order to set up the Stan Lee Captain America. The real Captain America plot didn't kick off until he got unfrozen.

Also, I'm in agreement with the AVclub's review of this film


"Don’t be fooled by the title, which tips off a slight allegiance in sympathies more than anything else: This is an Avengers movie, every bit as densely packed with plot, locations, costumed characters, melodrama, screwball comedy, and future-sequel groundwork as last summer’s Age Of Ultron."