Helloooooo and welcome to cookiesandopinions! It’s time to kick off the reviews proper. And we start with a doozy. It’s Disney’s Marvel’s Avengers Captain America: Civil War.
Before I dive in to the mixed bag that was Civil War (and yes, I’m not going to simply praise it- it’s a flawed movie) let’s get some housekeeping done.
I am not a fan of Marvel or its Cinematic Universe. Neither am I a DC fan. I liked the first Avengers movie, I liked the first Iron Man, and I love Jessica Jones on Netflix, but I am in no way invested in the fandom. I’m kind of superhereoed out, to be totally honest. But, I love Spiderman and Tom Holland, I love Paul Rudd, but I’m just so tired of superheros. And halfway through this movie, I realised something that was key to me being able to enjoy it in any meaningful way.
I don’t fucking care.
I don’t care if Iron Man and Cap never talk again. I don’t care if someone’s good buddy gets hurt or if some character who’s on screen for thirty seconds says their relative who we never saw died. I don’t. Fucking. Care.
But that’s not why I’m here.
I love the thought of two superhero factions beating the shit out of each other. That seemed new. That more than anything got my ass in the seat. I wanted to see a superhero Civil War. So did I come away satisfied?
There’s plenty to talk about, both good and bad, and I’m giving myself a soft limit of a thousand words on these reviews. So I’ll leave some things on the cutting board and get right to what really worked and what really didn’t.
What really worked was the cast. Tom Holland killed it. Even if I hated his stupid CGI costume, the new Spiderman is fun, exciting, and dorky. Tobey Maguire had “dorky” down, but not so much the exciting part. Andrew Garfield was… exciting I guess? Tom Holland was perfect.
Chris Evans and RDJ were also both excellent. It’s probably their best performances in the MCU because they have to show off a different side to their characters. Stark gets more emotional. Cap gets more intense. They both handle the transition very well, neither character feels unnatural in their development and it’s a credit to the actors, not the writers.
Or the directors.
The Russo brothers dropped the ball behind the camera. Most of the fight scenes were clearly trying to hide bad choreography with shaky cam or extreme closeups and was often obviously sped up. Until the final two fights, which for some reason were much better, I would call the action sequences downright poor. Nothing at all on the level of Winter Soldier or Daredevil.
Cinematography was also rather shoddy. It was a really bland looking movie. The Russo brothers failed to use their environments effectively, the sets were boring, the blocking was unimaginative… I could go on, but I don’t want to. Suffice it to say that it felt as though- outside of bringing the superheros to life- the men and women behind the camera didn’t feel bothered to make any sort of effort beyond the minimum requirement.
The writers didn’t try much harder. The villain’s plan falls apart instantly with a little thought. So, his plan was to get the Avengers to fight each other, with Iron Man specifically leading the faction against Captain America, and have them chase each other to some hideaway, along with Cap’s buddy the Winter Soldier, so he could show them a video coming from some invisible tree camera?
How did he know Iron Man would side against Cap? Did he know about the woman by the elevator at the start of the movie? Why did he set the Winter Soldier into beserk mode if he needed Cap to be friends with him for the plan to work? How did he know Iron Man was going to come to the hideout alone? What would his plan been had another member of team Iron Man come instead? Obviously he had none, as when Black Panther showed up he simply tried to kill himself.
It’s stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. It’s lazy and half-assed and takes the audience for a bunch of idiots and it’s exactly the kind of thing I hate in superhero movies right now.
Hold on… I need a cookie.
Going point by point on the technical side of film-making isn’t really what I like in writing (or reading) movie reviews, but I feel a need to concentrate on that side of it here. How come? Well usually good reviews try and pull individual threads together and weave new meaning into the movie. They give a point of view or interpretation or contextualize it in a way you- the reader- may not have thought of, and dive deeper into the meaning and significance of a movie.
But this movie doesn’t have any of that. There’s nothing beneath the surface. As I said at the start, I went to Civil War because I wanted to see superheros beat the shit out of each other and I didn’t expect any more. But I sure as hell wanted it. I wanted Civil War to be more. I wanted it to stand out like Winter Soldier did. I wanted it to have insightful ideas and takes on the nuanced issue at the heart of its conflict, but it’s just not there. There’s no threads to pull at, no subtext to dive into. It’s a blockbuster full of punches and jokes and it ends right about there.
If Disney’s Marvel’s Avengers Captain America: Civil War were a cookie, it would be a snickerdoodle. I get why people love it. I really do. And I want to like it as much as most people, but I just don’t get the love. It’s never going to be the best choice, though I guess it’s serviceable.