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Film review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, from ‘Built For Speed’

Super heroes being taken to task by the US government over the collateral damage of their battles with pompous villains… haven’t we seen this before? Yes, the vague plot outline for Captain America Civil War does recall Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice but unlike that loud, murky-looking DC Comics adaptation, the Marvel film is actually a lot of fun.  Civil War takes a little while to work up a head of steam but when it does it’s a remarkable thrill ride.

Disney and Marvel have certainly invested in this film big time as they parade an eye-boggling array of stars before the camera. Not only do we have Marvel regulars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle and Jeremy Renner but William Hurt, Martin Freeman and Daniel Bruhl have also entered the Marvel universe.

Here, the Avengers have come under scrutiny by Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) due to the multi-trillion dollar destruction they’ve wrought battling Loki and Ultron and after a mission in Nigeria ends in tragedy. The US government want the team to sign a declaration swearing only to act when called upon by the United Nations. Yes, those pesky regulatory bodies want to rein in those American heroes. This unlikely attempt to neuter the superheroes sets up an almighty confrontation between Ironman/Tony Stark who wants to toe the government line and Captain America/ Steve Rogers who won’t bow to those pinkos.  Clearly, the Avengers here are analogous to the US military while their opponents represent global terrorists. As the film suggests, the more powerful the Avengers become the more numerous and determined are their opponents. It’s not entirely clear which side of the political fence the film sits as our heroes take opposing views, although the fact that this is ostensibly a Captain America film suggests that it might favour an unfettered US war machine.

Woven into this plot are convoluted and not entirely convincing story threads concerning the Winter Soldier character from the last Captain America film and a fiendish mercenary (Daniel Bruhl) who (much like a Bond villain) stokes the fires of dissent among the Avengers.   Confusing plot lines and dubious politics aside the film eventually slots into a bruising confrontation between the Avengers who back the Captain and those who side with Stark.

What makes this film work so well and what will have fanboys spoiling their trousers is the array of new inclusions in the Avengers world. Due to an overly generous trailer we already know that Ant Man appears in this one but more importantly Spiderman has returned. Playing a much younger and endearingly naïve Spiderman/ Peter Parker, Tom Holland just about steals the film. Spidey is particularly effective in the epic set-piece super hero confrontations which, although largely composed of cgi enhanced Kung Fu battles, are surprisingly entertaining with fluid, dynamic action that makes inventive use of the characters respective powers, skills, gadgets and personalities.

As with nearly all super hero films this is really just a hyper-driven live action cartoon but there’s a hint of emotion in the relationship between the Captain, Black Widow and Tony Stark and the bromance between Cap and his old buddy Bucky, The Winter Soldier.

At 146 minutes, Captain America: Civil War is a little long and the story is sometimes confusing but in its best moments it equals that gold standard of Marvel Comics adaptations, Spiderman 2.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2.

Genre: Action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo.

Release date: 28th April 2016.

Running time: 146 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

 

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