Superhero movies are all about spectacle and these days, also about major conflict between the heroes themselves, apparently. DC gave us the painfully scattered and overwrought Batman vs. Superman and now Marvel enters with Captain America: Civil War. The latter is meant as another sequel Marvel’s Captain America franchise, but in reality it is an Avengers film masquerading as a Captain America film.
The opening moments give us the usual big action when a new Avengers squad on assignment in Lagos led by Captain America (Chris Evans) run into serious trouble and their mission goes awry, causing major civilian casualties. Afterwards, the United Nations pressures the Avengers to sign an accord putting the superheroes under direct control of a division of the U.N. This splits the team in half, with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) pushing to sign, mostly due to the guilt he feels over their actions in the past. The Captain and fellow Avenger Falcon (Anthony Mackie), however, fear it will put the Avengers in jeopardy, turning them into political tools.
Things get more complicated when Cap’s old buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), now a brainwashed recruit for Hydra named the “Winter Soldier” resurfaces. During a U.N. conference to ratify the accords, a bomb goes off killing the president of the African nation of Wakanda. The Wakandan president’s son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who is also the nation’s defender, a superhero known as Black Panther, is now on a mission to kill the Winter Soldier. The Captain, however, is not convinced that his old friend is responsible, or at the very least, he believes Bucky/Winter Soldier isn’t acting of his own free will. Captain wants to try to save Bucky, thereby putting him in direct conflict with the members of the Avengers who signed the accord.
The central pat of the film is conflict between the two factions of the Avengers, those who want to work under the government oversight — Iron Man, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision (Paul Bettany), War Machine (Don Cheadle) – and those who chose to remain independent – Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) – and this sets up some staggering clashes that directors Anthony and Joe Russo are very adept at handling. In fact, these are the best bits of the film, without a doubt, except for the one-on-one battle between Iron Man and Captain America, which is dripping in angst, pent-up guilt, anger, and aggression. It puts the battle between Batman and Superman to shame.
The film also introduces to new heroes into Marvel’s world of Avengers, including long-running comic book hero Black Panther, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and, finally making his début with the rest of the heroes in slightly younger form, Spider-Man.
The problem with Civil War is, the point of the film, the true villain’s motives are completely lost in all the conflict between the good guys. It’s sort of like how in DC’s Batman vs. Superman, we never really believed Batman could take on the Man of Steel, well, here, we know that this antagonist really couldn’t stand a chance against the Avengers. Also, well, this big spectacle sort of film just doesn’t have the same impact anymore. The first Avengers film was exciting because we were finally seeing all these heroes on screen together. Now, the charm has worn off and we are left with just another film with a constant barrage of action sequences and not much there, there.
Captain America: Civil War was shot at 6.5K resolution on Arri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa IMAX, Arri Alexa XT Plus, and Red Epic Dragon cameras, with GoPro Hero 4 Black used effects shots, most likely. There was a 4K DI used. A 3D version of the film ran in theaters and is available on Blu-ray 3D in the Collector’s Edition that Disney provided to us for review. Since it is a conversion, there isn’t really anything special about the 3D in Civil War. While there is a bit of depth of field added, there’s no real pop-out and, in fact, you give up some crispness of detail and contrast versus the 2D Blu-ray disc (also included here). The 2D Blu-ray is pure reference for a Blu-ray release and is the preferred version of watching this film in this set. The blacks are inky without crushing, the colors pop when need be, the image is clean, and there is no noise, aliasing, or posterization, and the flesh tones are accurate.
While Civil War doesn’t get the latest in object-oriented audio with either an Atmos or DTS:X mix, it does come with darned good DTS-HD 7.1 track that is pretty well-balanced part from what is perhaps an overabundance of low-end. The fight sequences truly surround you in the gunfire, laser shots, engine noise and explosions while dialogue remains full and clear above it all. The LFE booms, so your floorboards will be rattling.
The strongest on-disc extras provided are the audio commentary by the directors and writers and the sneak peek of the forthcoming Doctor Strange film. Everything else is brief and highly promotional.
- DisneyMovies Anywhere – Playback via your service of choice (Disney, iTunes, VUDU, Google Play, Microsoft, Amazon)
- United We Stand, Divided We Fall – The Making of Captain America: Civil War, Parts 1 & 2 (1080p/24; 22:25 & 23:18)
- Captain America: The Road to Civil War (1080p/24; 00:04:11)
- Iron Man: The Road to Civil War (1080p/24; 00:04:27)
- Open Your Mind: Marvel’s Doctor Strange – Exclusive Sneak Peek (1080p/24; 00:04:02)
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (1080p/24; 00:07:52):
- Extended Peggy’s Funeral
- Zemo Meets Doctor Broussard
- “You are not used to the truth”
- “Gotta get me one of those”
- Gag Reel (1080p/24; 00:02:53)
- Audio commentary by Anthony & Joe Russo and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
The Final Assessment
Captain America: Civil War is a great visual effects spectacle that fans of superhero movies will likely enjoy. It doesn’t top the previous Avengers or Captain America films, but it is a solid popcorn film nonetheless and it is excellent home theater entertainment.
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