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Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 26 min.

Release Date: May 6th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Actors: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Bruhl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman

W

hen an assault on a chemical facility in Lagos breaks out, Captain America (Chris Evans) and several members of the Avengers, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), intervene to thwart the attempted theft of biohazardous material. But their involvement comes at a price. As numerous civilian casualties becomes the much-debated result of the Avengers’ latest efforts, additionally resurfacing countless other forms of collateral damage from previous earth-shattering clashes, the world demands accountability from the crime-fighting organization.

117 countries agree on the “Sokovia Accords,” a document outlining rules that the Avengers must follow, dictating how and when they can commit to action. But when the UN building in Vienna is bombed on the day of the signing, and Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), is implicated in the attack, Captain America knows he must locate his elusive friend before the authorities do – in order to save his life. While the First Avenger heads to Bucharest to look for Barnes, an arcane threat works from the shadows to cause a rift in the superhero alliance. As Iron Man and Captain America are forced to take opposing sides, each leader recruits members old and new to aid in their fight for the truth.

Clearly, this third Captain America movie might as well be the third Avengers movie. By anyone’s count, there are more superheroes here than in any of the previous Marvel epics. But, that’s also part of the problem. Following the downward trend for entertainment value in the X-men movies, this continuing chapter insists upon inventing all sorts of correlating types of kryptonite (or, more specifically, technology or supervillains or superweapons) to combat the new batch of superheroes. And each new hero, whether they’re extraterrestrial or some kind of mutant, has special powers that would make them utterly invincible – were it not for the convenient countermeasure always within grasp of the antagonists (and just out of reach of the authorities).

Opening with the dullest of cold opens, “Captain America: Civil War” sets about establishing an exhaustingly circuitous plot of betrayal, infighting, espionage, terrorism, and covert operations. Inevitably, all of this will lead to a cacophonous showdown in some abandoned, arctic facility with revelations abounding. But, though a battle in icy confines isn’t farfetched, a sensible reason to bring every contending party together certainly eludes plausibility. In fact, the villain’s ploy is so unnecessarily complex that when the big reveal is finally laid bare, it’s almost laughable in its simplicity. As in last year’s “Terminator Genisys,” with just a few slight modifications, the film can easily undo the entire purpose behind its own existence.

“I got lucky,” insists Natasha after she emerges unscathed from a massive bombing of a United Nations complex, which practically crumbles around her. Just like before, it’s a bit much to see normal humans (regardless of martial arts training) participate in hugely destructive skirmishes with alien beings and exceptionally advanced robotic warriors. It’s as mind-boggling as a scene early on when Rogers and Barnes attempt to escape a multi-story apartment building as it’s consumed by military commandos – and they, after agreeing to reform their deadly ways, go to great lengths not to kill any of their adversaries. But nothing stops them from seriously, seriously injuring the majority of the nameless, faceless soldiers.

Despite the film’s excessive running time, and the tired concept of governmental oversight placed on superheroes (like “Watchmen” or “The Incredibles” or “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”) – the diplomacy and politics of uncontainable creatures spoils the fun of vigilante justice or the belief in superhero righteousness – there’s an undeniable element of fun to the action sequences. Although the backstories and character arcs are compounded to the point that seeing “Captain America: Civil War” is a little like walking into a random episode from the fifth season of a television series, the creativity involved with Ant-Man’s tech or Scarlet Witch’s inexplicable mastery of levitation (and red mist) or Vision’s godlike capabilities (which are also never given any definition whatsoever) provide numerous opportunities for high-octane action. And posing. Sadly, a touch of amusing fight choreography can’t save this overlong jumble of superhero cliches from succumbing to the absolute ridiculousness of nearly all the components that lead up to the anticipated civil war – as well as the silliness of Black Panther (a man who can apparently don a skintight black suit and retractable claws and gain not only invincibility but also the power to defy gravity and physics), an adolescent Spider-Man (who appears really just for the sake of one-liners), and hot Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, showing up for half a scene and half a line of dialogue).

– The Massie Twins

 

 



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