Scott & Max on Captain America: Civil War
Scott: The writing is on point here and tell a powerful, intricate, coherent story. The biggest challenge for a sprawling ensemble action film like this is to balance the characters and tell an intelligible story, and Civil War is wildly successful at doing that. Each scene has weight and feels important to the overall narrative, which is a complicated tale featuring characters with clear but complex motivations. Each character is given a chance to shine in their own way, from our main cast of heroes, through the supporting cast and the main antagonist. It’s hard to tell which the greater triumph here is; the balance of this cast of superstar characters, or the fact that the villain of this story was so compelling. Marvel movies have struggled in the past to create dynamic and threatening villains, but this movie had a great villain whose motivations were clear and compelling. The story ends in a very interesting way that makes me (somehow) more excited for the next installments in the Marvel series.
Max: Despite some plot holes and wandering storytelling, you have another solid Marvel Studios film. Right off the bat, you can tell this is a better narrative than Age of Ultron. The core of the story—superhero accountability—germinates as we see the two sides form. This almost felt like the heroes HAD to disagree at points, without fleshing it out beyond Tony and Steve. The big set pieces work well enough, even though some are over dramatic for the sake of action. Still, the story carries these moments forward because of how entertaining it is. There’s a moment with Bucky towards the end that could have been a cliche retcon, but it worked. My biggest complaint is the villain’s plan revolves around Tony, Bucky and Steve arriving at the same location at the same time. We hit plot hole territory pretty hard there, but the end beyond that is still enjoyable.
Scott: Rather than launch into a series of superlatives for the cast and crew here, I would just like to say that this is the epitome of the comic book movie genre and succeeds on every level. The editing was balanced and clear, the action scenes were varied and exciting, and the pacing of the film is outstanding. There was no scene that derailed the narrative and I never had to try to put the pieces together on my own. The writers expertly inserted characters into the narrative that we hadn’t yet seen (Black Panther, Spiderman) and they were very natural alongside familiar favorites from past movies. The plot was not entirely predictable and there are very legitimate reasons to side with #TeamCap or #TeamStark.
Max: I wasn’t a fan of the the strobing, handheld camera fight choreography that the first half of the movie utilized. I would have accepted it in the fast paced opening fight, but there were plenty of moments that were just distracting. The later fights let you breathe in the atmosphere, and the film is bettered by it. The extremely large location titles were laughable at times, but you get used to them as the film goes on.
Scott: This was a much more serious tone than past Marvel movies (aside from maybe Winter Soldier) and the performances here were exceptional. I was particularly impressed with Robert Downey Jr. in this one; we all know his Tony Stark as the sarcasm-spewing hero who follows his own rules, but in Civil War he delivers a much more stern performance and shows off an unexpected amount of emotional depth that amount to a powerful performance. Newcomers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland as Black Panther and Spider-Man respectively both create interesting, compelling characters (I have total faith in Holland as Peter Parker after this), and the lengthy ensemble here all shine in their moments. One more performance I’d specifically like to point out is Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo; as the primary antagonist of the film going against a team of literally dozens of superheroes, he was a gripping character and was able to shine in a complex role.
Max: We’re used to charismatic performances in MCU films, and this one is no different. The biggest flaw was that Elizabeth Olsen couldn’t keep her accent straight. I honestly would have preferred no accent over bouncing in and out of one. From the newcomers, Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland were great in their roles. Ant Man was a hoot, and I’ll have to check out his film now. The highlight for me was Robert Downey Jr., since I haven’t cared for the character since his original appearance. He felt like he lost his mission in subsequent films, and having him back as a wounded man dealing with his past mistakes was almost refreshing. I remembered why I cared about this character.
Scott: The score never stood out to me in this film; to be honest I didn’t even notice it throughout the movie. The Batman v Superman score had better individual pieces (Superman’s and Wonder Woman’s themes in particular), but it felt disjointed to me. This score flowed together well but it did so to the point where it just fell to the background. The action had good, meaty punches, but by this point that is pretty commonplace now
Max: Overall, there was a solid score which matched the film. The music was appropriate and fit the mood and motifs. The sound effects were good, and the audio design was well thought out. I enjoy how the machinery, weaponry, and characters have in depth sounds. The ADR on masked heroes sometimes fall short, which is how I felt about the “Hey everyone” Spider-Man line in the trailer, but they nailed it for the film.
Scott: While not breaking the mold, Captain America: Civil War certainly is at the top of it’s class in the comic book movie genre. The Russo brothers have proven once again that the genre is capable of not just popcorn action, but deeper themes and conflicts. I’m looking forward to the continued growth of the Marvel series, and I’m also looking forward to another showing of this one. #TeamStark
Max: As a whole, this was a solid outing. I enjoyed the film, but it had its flaws. There are plenty of forgettable Marvel movies out there, but this one earned its memorable moments. I would have liked a tighter story with more focus on JUST Captain America, Bucky, and Iron Man. While Wanda and the Vision could be interesting, I felt it detracted from the narrative. It should be saved for a proper Avengers movie. And that’s my final thought. Either wrap every MCU movie in Avengers branding, or let the solo films still operate as single entity adventures. I mean, we sacrificed more Bucky development for what? A robot cooking. Civil War inches above a B+ only because I smiled the entire time.
Scott’s Grade: A
Max’s Grade: A-