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May 9, 2016

Reel Speak - Captain America: Civil War

Civil War is finally here to assault our eye balls and all other senses as well. It seems our prayers have been answered and a new benchmark in comic book style entertainment has been reached. Our friend  Alan Brocavich from Reel Speak weighs in with his thoughts on this epic showdown.

CCD is going to have lots to say about this movie for a long time. We start here after the jump....

From 1861 to 1865, the American Civil War raged across the United States and divided a nation in half. It was a conflict rooted deeply in ideals which split families and forced brothers to turn against brothers. In the 13th film in Marvel Studios’ series of films, their most iconic character, Captain America, is at the center of a similar conflict; a conflict which threatens to tear apart his “nation” of friends and fellow superheroes.

Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) seeks to redeem his brain-washed friend Bucky/the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), with the help from Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). When things go horribly wrong, it is the last straw for the government, which wants to oversee the Avengers or force them to disband. The government oversight, favored by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Vision (Paul Bettany), tears the team in half, while the mysterious Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) secretly plots something from the shadows.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is a film which is 100% true to its title. It establishes itself firmly as a unique superhero film as this time around there is no Big Bad out to destroy the world or acquire some sort of weapon. In CIVIL WAR, the biggest threat the heroes have is each other…and with 13 movies of history behind them, the directing team of Joe and Anthony Russo immediately have excellent material to work with. Marvel has spent a lot of money and time bringing these characters together on screen, so the Russos had to make their eventual fracturing believable…and they  do a remarkable job in making it so. Every character, including some new recruits, which includes (but not limited to), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) are given well-established and legitimate reasons for choosing their sides. Like a true tragedy of war, the Russos set the Avengers up like a family; with everything from an overprotective father to a rebellious son…and when the division does happen, it is an emotional gut-punch which may take many fans off-guard.

When the punching does happen, the action-scenes are an absolute thrill which will have audiences ducking for cover. Some terrific set-pieces involving cars, planes, helicopters, motorcycles, are breathtaking, and the hand-to-hand combat bits leap off the screen. The action is incredibly well executed and is given an extra layer because it is all meaningful, and fans are sure to be saying “no, don’t do it!” when one of their favorites gets into some real peril or loses a fight.  There is a lot of old-school action-film work being done here, but the Russos are certainly not afraid to let their superheroes be super, and a major showdown at an airport, in which the two sides let it all hang out, is a chunk of cinematic joy for comic-book fans and for everyone else.

Acting is perfect. Long-time Marvel blokes such as Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have been doing their roles for so long that they slip right into them easily. The extra-large cast, which also includes Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Frank Grillo, Martin Freeman, William Hurt, and Emily VanCamp, is handled extremely well by the Russos, as every actor and actress gets their own moments to shine. The show is nearly stolen by newcomers Chadwick Boseman and young Tom Holland, who fully embrace their characters and enter the Marvel universe with an outright bang.

The American Civil War tore things apart to the point where the same issues are still being debated and felt, and this CIVIL WAR is no different. There is a lot that happens in this film which will carry over into further Marvel adventures, and one has to wonder exactly how the Russos and their bosses will get their heroes out. But for as much that happens, it is very much a Captain America film, as the story truly revolves around him and he is never lost among the grand scale of things. This is a story about civil rights, which makes it perfect for Captain America (that’s what he always fought for), and turns the film into one of the most relevant entries in the genre. CIVIL WAR is executed perfectly on many levels; an action-flick, a superhero movie, and it is most certainly an emotional ride. It’s not just a great comic-book movie but a true film. Marvel Studios has used their most iconic character to throw his shield like a gauntlet; as a challenge to the world to meet a new standard.


Alan Brocavich is the founder of Reel Speak. Visit him on their site or @reel_speak on Twitter.

Originally published on Reel Speak May 6th, 2016.

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