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Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johanson, Sebastian Stan

Black Panther, Black Widow, Iron Man, and Iron Patriot

Captain America: Civil War, during its entirety, can be described as a load of information, but mostly all I learned is that Marvel prioritizes Team Stark versus Team Captain America over telling a compelling story. The pace is swift, but every moment is a variation of the one before it that after a while, it all starts to taste the same. Emotions are exchanged in a serious tone, and then there are a handful of comedic moments to lighten it up. Unfortunately, by that point, your mind is too numb and too confused to trigger appreciation.

A lot of fight scenes are crammed in 147 minutes. In comparison, the first Avengers movie feels tame, which is saying a lot, since the entire third act is a seizure-inducing war. Thus the plot seems like it makes up itself as it rambles along in order to crank out shield throwing, fist-fights, and everything in between. Hint: unintended consequences, but exaggerated. I am a person that watched most Marvel cinematic universe films, yet I couldn't keep track of 4 or 5 different sub-plots inside one movie. One plot pauses while another resumes, therefore, they it takes a lot of time for progress to happen, and like I said earlier, it adds up to a flavorless viewing experience. A more accurate title is Avengers 2.5, aka build up to an even bigger conflict.

Thankfully, there are a few blows of fresh air that keeps this film from feeling like a ride in a stuffy train compartment. The best one is the newly introduced Spiderman, who is arguably the best one yet. Maguire's version had charm, but I felt a certain distance due to lack of likability. Garfield's version is watered-down and mediocre. Civil War's Spiderman, played by Tom Holland, is cheerful, humorous, and simply a joy to watch. I'do a lot to hang with this dude, even though he's definitely younger than me. Tom Holland has a natural screen presence that will guarantee him countless more opportunities, mark my words. A moment that stood out, and earned my eager nod was when Spiderman mentioned Empire Strikes Back. A common reference, yes, but it is mentioned with such a breath of innocence and charm that you can't help but grin as he swings around.

He's also part of the main attraction, the first battle between Team Stark and Team Captain, which is entertaining to watch. The Russo brothers direct the sequence with enough energy that can support everyone's various powers, and at the same time knowing when to be subdued when coming to camerawork and editing. Another reason why the sequence works is because the heroes do not put strenuous effort into harming each other. In fact, time spent punching and kicking each other into a wall or vehicle and time spent getting to know each other under a cheerful spirit are nearly equal. There's a sense of clear respect for each other, including a clear reason for why they are fighting on a certain team.

These moments are why you go to superhero films. Dozens of average moments, filled with fight sequences and arguments you know (and the filmmakers know) exist to serve as appetizers before you are served the entrée, are not. Sure, events need to happen before you can get from A to B, but the end justifying all means doesn't apply to the definition of great films. I'm not saying that all superhero films should be filled with a sense of camaraderie and jubilant fun. I'm actually against the modern view that everything should be awesome and sunshine-y. Instead, it's the complaint that these dramatic pauses, breathes, and facial expressions are backed up by "the-evil-we-must-defeat" suddenly thrown in all at once, without time to explain exactly how, why, and when. In terms of confusion, I was on the same level as the Avengers themselves. Or maybe because I don't care much about what happens to these characters, or the fictional version of our society they inhabit. These characters repeat themselves over and over again; constantly hitting the snooze button until someone finally destroys it as a wake-up call, so at least we have a decent conclusion.

I'll give credit for Captain America: Civil War differentiating itself from other similar superhero films. However, the twists are insignificant. Just like the decision to make location names appear on the screen center with big while letters. It's creative and partially self-aware, but ultimately underwhelming. For 2 hours and half I saw buildings getting bombed, cars being flipped, and super soldiers shootin' and slamin'. But I was unable to feel, like Bucky the cold-hearted winter soldier.