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If you have any interest in movies, especially of the comic book variety, you will be aware that Captain America: Civil War has been lauded as the second coming of Christ… at least, you know, film-wise.
Does it deserve such critical adulation, however?
As a fan of Marvel movies – though not necessarily their original comic book iterations – I hugely enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the previous film in the series. It was a dark, political thriller that reinterpreted the star-spangled super soldier as a gritty SAS-type foot soldier. The directors of that film, the Russo brothers, have returned to bring us this current instalment of the pro-steroid poster boy Steve Rogers, and they have certainly not allowed themselves to remain stagnant in their creative vision.
Captain America: Civil War is, in this reviewer’s opinion, a superior film to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If you know anything about the Marvel movie series and its many fans, you will realise that I’ve just made a hugely bold statement, but to all you nay-sayers out there: hear me out.
Marvel left us rather sour with the overall disappointment of Avengers: Age of Ultron, released in the summer of 2015 and, despite a delightful turn by Paul Rudd in Ant Man, presented a less than satisfying conclusion to Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We doubted – and do not pretend you were not among us – that Marvel could create another epic ensemble piece as genitally stimulating as The Avengers in 2012 (they really should get Loki back into the fray soon, shouldn’t they?). If Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Nerd King to the virgin masses, could not make it work again then who could?
Enter the siblings Russo.
Captain America: Civil War, in terms of its handling of a stellar ensemble cast, in terms of both real-life talent and fictional characters, is superlative. We are posed realistic conundrums regarding the potent threat posed by several members of the Avengers line-up; we come to understand the inevitable friction sparked by challenging relationships, both business and personal, all residing within a political spectrum where the needs of the few are vastly outmatched by the needs of the many; we come to see the conflict of the central in-fighting scenario through the eyes of each major player to varying extents, allowing us to better understand old characters and feel comfortably introduced to the new.
This is all without mentioning the action scenes. I mean, like, seriously. The centrepiece action sequence of the movie featuring the majority of the Avengers is spectacular and well worth the ticket price alone. But every single fight sequence is superb, commanding your attention not just for the expertly executed kicks and jumps but the personal character motivations behind the brawls that drive the story forwards.
Fans of the Bucky/Cap relationship will feel suitably rewarded after the two year wait since the end credits of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and all you Tony Stark diehards out there will squeal with utter delight at Robert Downey Jr’s continued progression of the Iron Man mastermind’s personal journey.
But, okay, I know what you want to know about- or, I should say, who you want to know about.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen: Spider-Man not only gets plenty of screen time in Captain America: Civil War, but he positively steals every scene he is in. Even Robert Downey Jr cannot overpower the natural charisma and boyish charm of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, a portrayal that many critics and fans alike are lauding to be the best onscreen Parker/Spidey that there has ever been. I cannot disagree. Whilst Tobey Maguire got the rather ‘uncool’ nature to Peter’s character down, we could never really get past the doh-eyed, angry-poop-face thing could we? And while I thought Andrew Garfield was a great Spider-Man, let’s face it: he was way too cool to be Peter Parker. Holland manages to be quirky, nervous, jokey and believable as a kid from Queens who can climb up walls and make his own synthetic webbing ALL AT THE SAME TIME. You have to see it to believe it.
Now, all this being well and good, you do get the slight impression that the fan-favourite bug boy was added into the film at quite a late stage of production: the plot reasons for his inclusion in the film, though not necessarily flimsy, were not entirely convincing, and the CGI quality to the famous suit did jar at times. However, I can categorically say that this is the best Spider-Man we have ever had on the silver screen.
And I want to give a shout-out to Paul Rudd, as he’s clearly going to be reading this: he isn’t a huge part in this film, but he almost steals the show from Holland a few times, so watch out for him.
Basically readers, this isn’t a monumental fail like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. No, no… this needs to be seen. Go. NOW.