While it might not have the ‘first-time’ wow factor of The Avengers, or the ‘who-knew-a-Captain-America-film-could-be-this-awesome’ impact of The Winter Soldier, Captain America Civil War might just be the new king of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Civil War is a genuinely excellent comic book movie, up there not only with it's aforementioned peers, but arguably alongside The Dark Knight, X2 or Superman The Movie. Why? Because it excels at everything that defines the genre; delving into the very heart of what makes superheroes tick. And it's simply a good film; well structured, carefully plotted, neatly scripted and superbly acted, at levels that exceed what big studio tent-poles like this normally call for. Despite a roster of no less than twelve superheroes and numerous ancillary characters, each is well established, fleshed-out and given the screen time they need: Captain America, Iron Man, The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Black Widow, Scarlett Witch, Vision, Falcon, War Machine, Ant Man, your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman and Hawkeye- in roughly that order of importance. Each has his/her own motivations that are logical and true to each character, and I found myself really invested in them. Played reliably by their actors (Robert Downey Junior and Chris Evans are at their absolute best here) they really sell their personal goals and principles, making me carefully consider my own opinions on the ethical questions the film raises. Furthermore, I really did like the villain, Zemo (despite protestations that he was another Marvel ‘weak link’). His motivations and machinations, while knocking at the door of implausibility at times, made a degree of sense and his type of baddie is perfect for this story. Anything more flamboyant or showy would distract from the main characters' struggle.
That would be interesting enough even without lots of combat and action; but here the Russos excel once again with at least five major set pieces (none of which involve swirly lights, sky portals or cities being levelled!). The stuntwork, choreography, cinematography and special effects work throughout is second to none on each and every one: from the opening scene in Lagos, to the exceptional Bucharest apartment attack/chase (my favourite), to a thrilling escape scene; to the shattering, emotionally driven end fight. These scenes are brutal, breathless and flawlessly executed. As for the famous 'airport' scene, this is the genre-defining moment where the directors really let loose and go to town; demonstrating their love for the genre with a joyfully imaginative and spectacular hero brawl that's fantastically entertaining. It might be tonally different from the rest of the film, but it's cleverly set up and in keeping with the MCU ethic. For all the darkness and drama, the Russos have managed to weave a welcome streak of well-judged humour throughout. It’s everything you could want from any blockbuster.
The film wraps up perfectly; not in a neat, pretty bow, but on a bittersweet and satisfying note that leaves all kinds of possibilities open for the future. A stupendous achievement.
The film also gets the presentation it deserves with terrific disc. It’s well worth plumping for the 3d edition and it’s IMAX version of the airport scene. Like the similar scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s truly spectacular with rich eye-popping detail and imagery for the eye to feast on. The 3d is decent on the whole and adds plenty of depth, but its especially in that scene noticeably with airborne objects. Picture quality elsewhere is up there with all the other Marvel films (or any modern release) and there are no major issues with sound. Surround effects are superb although I did notice one instance where the audio lacked punch (Rhodey firing his guns). That aside, it's a belter.
Not a bad selection of extras either; a reasonably in depth making-of (two-parter) and other featurettes. Not exactly exhaustive, but a solid offering by Marvel's slender standards.
Captain America: Civil War User Review
Superhero heavenReview of Captain America: Civil War blu-ray by lucasisking, Sep 7, 2016.This item was purchased for 18 from Morrisons in 2016. The reviewer still owns this product.