Film Review – Captain America: Civil War (12A)
As a lifelong member of the Marvel fan club, it’s difficult to be objective in reviewing their latest offering. One has to constantly battle against hyperbole and outrageous sweeping statements based largely on an emotional response rather than any insightful film analysis. With that in mind, I’ll put it out there – this is the best film Marvel have ever done!
Smart, action-packed and driven by a deeply emotional central conflict, it feels like a true culmination of all that’s gone before. The film not only avoids the criticisms usually aimed at these films – shallow villains and CG-heavy finales – but serves to put those past creative decisions into a greater context; Civil War actually makes the previous films better!
Central to this tying together of the Marvel Anthology are the character arcs of Tony Stark aka Iron Man aka Robert Downey Jr., and Steve Rogers aka Captain America aka Chris Evans. Over the course of no less than FIVE films Stark has evolved from rebellious playboy to a man broken by his mistakes and willing to work for the system he once vehemently rebelled against. Rogers, on the other hand, in the face of the repeated failures of that same system and the idealism he so diligently upheld, now finds relying on his own authority a much more palatable option. These rich themes and character beats are part of what makes this film stand apart from even the best of the rest. As an aside, one of the joys of Civil War is in giving it’s leads a chance to really flex their acting muscles, conveying their pain, confusion and betrayal brilliantly.
If all this sounds a little deep for your average superhero flick, fear not! The action comes, and it comes in spades. Civil War features some of the most inventive and thrilling set pieces in years. Much has been made of the showdown at the airport, as the two teams come head to head in a gleeful demonstration of what these guys are capable of. However, equally impressive are the two meticulously choreographed fight sequences that bookend the film, as well as an astonishing car chase sequence.
It is the magic formula that Marvel have found, of marrying the high stakes with the often hilarious character moments, that really sets them apart. Everyone is given their moment, especially some of the newer cast, who actually get some of the film’s standout scenes. Paul Rudd’s tongue-tied excitement at meeting Captain America for the first time is brilliantly played, and Chadwick Boseman conveys his Black Panther origin story as effectively in a single scene as it would take many films two hours to accomplish. However, man of the match surely goes to Tom Holland’s pitch-perfect turn as the brand new Spider-Man/Peter Parker, embodying the motor mouth web-slinger with supreme confidence and wit.
It perhaps isn’t too fair to compare Civil War to the other big superhero standoff of the year, but ‘Batman V Superman’ could pretty much learn *everything* from this film! Here is how you place two iconic heroes in a face-off that never compromises on the high stakes and depth of emotion, but my goodness, understands how to have fun while doing it. The Russo brothers are masters of their craft, pulling together multiple characters and story threads into a coherent and vastly entertaining package. In a few years time, they have an even greater challenge in the shape of Avengers: Infinity War Part 1&2, with a huge canvas and even larger cast – but I have a feeling they’ll be just fine.