Movie review: Captain America Civil War
Chris Evans returns as the reflective patriot Steve Rogers in this latest Avengers saga that tries to stuff far too many problems, plot points and people into its skintight pants
Captain America: Civil War
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Daniel Bruhl, Tom Holland
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Running time: 2hrs 26 mins
MPAA Rating: PG-13
By Katherine Monk
Remember “all-dressed” potato chips? They were the fairy tale ending for MSG: A starchy vehicle for every brand of artificial flavoring cooked up in the lab: barbeque, salt, vinegar, ketchup, dill pickle, cheddar… whatever.
They were designed to please every taste bud, every sinful salty-greasy hankering, but in the end, they just tasted like sodium and chemicals – a salt bomb guaranteed to turn your mouth into the Atacama while dyeing your fingers a deep orange.
The central problem was a surfeit of competition for your tastebud’s attention: Bombarded by every kind of scientifically designed flavor crystal, there’s too much going on to really process, resulting in a generic salt fix.
Captain America: Civil War is the movie equivalent of the all-dressed potato chip: A junk food classic that can’t be denied, but can never truly satisfy our desire for something original.
Returning Captain America writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely reteam with directors Anthony and Joe Russo to throw every beloved and familiar flavor in the bag, beginning with Steve Rogers – aka Captain America.
Perhaps the most emotionally engaging of all the superheroes in the Avengers stable, Captain America was a beanpole weakling who was transformed into a super-fighter by the U.S. military. His origin story, Captain America (The First Avenger, 2011), remains one of the best superhero movies in the comic book canon because it not only gave us a relatable character who transformed in every way imaginable, it had the ability to focus.
This Captain America suffers from bad case of attention deficit disorder, scrambling around from one plotline to the next in a rabid bid to entertain the masses while keeping the fanboys flipping through their Comicon Codex, ensuring the laws of the Marvel universe remain intact.
And maybe the fanboys are part of the problem. Maybe studios are so eager to please the card-carrying fanbase for their franchise movies, they’re reluctant to switch it up – or even create a new running gag for each character.
Captain America: Civil War reunites most of the past players and introduces a few new faces, including yet another Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) and a cat named Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).
It would take another five hundred words to explain the plot and the reasons why Spidey and Black Panther appear, but as the title suggests, this is a movie where the war is fought from within. The Avengers are put under the supervision of the United Nations to prevent any abuse of their superpowers, but not everyone in spandex and silicon can agree to the terms.
Ironically, the normally rebellious Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is the one who feels they should fall into line and obey the elected officials, while the typically loyal Boy Scout they call Captain America feels they should remain autonomous. (For more on this, see my review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)
The remaining Avengers pick sides, and while this could have been a gusher of dramatic material that chiseled out the political metaphors of patriotism-v-statelessness, obedience-v-free will, superpowers versus banal human evil, nothing comes of it except massive battle sequences that are close to impossible to follow, and fail to feed any suspense.
At this point, even the particular nature of each superhero’s power feels blurry, with Captain America capable of something close to flight and everyone else proving bulletproof. The fight scenes have no suspense, and even the reappearance of Bucky, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) who was once Cap’s best friend, feels forced and entirely without feeling.
The best line belongs to Vision (Paul Bettany), who points out his own limited understanding of the whole chaotic situation when he points to the gem in his skull and says something like “I have no idea what this does.”
At that point, the godlike cyborg becomes the most relatable character in the movie because we’re in a similar position: a jewel of a comic book franchise is lodged in our brains, but we’re starting to question its purpose.
THE EX-PRESS, May 7, 2016