Commentaries

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

LATEST MARVEL FLICK SERVES AS TRANSITION TO DISNEY



CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Film Review by Fiore 


It is with trepidation and remorse I write this review for CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.  It’s not because the movie is poor.  Just the opposite; it is exceptionally well made and entertaining.  It is, however, the last Marvel superhero script written before the Disney take-over.  This final script, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, was not completely done when Disney arrived, so it does contain a few Disney agenda inserts, and they are definitely noticeable; like the demonization of American values, and the righteousness of the noble savage.  I fear the excellence shown in the Marvel films, particularly in the Captain America series, will now be reduced to Disney-esque storylines and social commentary.   

Viewers can already spot aspects in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.  Paul Rudd as Ant-Man is once again more comedic than adult graphic novel in content; a similar mien is established for the new version of Spider-Man; and, though this script has him as correct in concept, Cap himself is portrayed as a representative who will not kowtow to unified diplomacy as he opts to retain his status as a symbol of American justice.  This, in only a way Disney could pervert, makes him the bad guy.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR begins with the aftermath of THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.  In this beginning, the film bears a striking resemblance to DC’s BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.  You simply can’t spend millions of dollars on the SFX guys to drop cities out of the sky and not expect people to be injured.  Nevermind the Avengers saved the world from two virtual take-overs, people were hurt or killed in the battles and therefore the superhero team must be held accountable.  These are favorite themes of progressive liberals:  there is always someone accountable (usually a patsy, and never the right person), and wars can be fought and won without civilian casualties.

The governments of the world, or at least 117 of them, decide they can appoint a committee to oversee the Avengers and they will decide when and where their talents are used.  Tony Stark, on a guilt trip over the creation of Ultron is all too eager to sign the accord and remove himself from responsibility for the group’s actions.  Sounds very similar to our current administration, doesn’t it?  Captain America wants no part of it.  He is ingrained with American values and exceptionalism, and they serve as his moral compass.  It is a good one, and others in the group agree with him.  Thus, we have a chasm in the world of superheroes which results in a momentous battle between, essentially, the word vs. the spirit of the law.  

Luckily for all involved, both Thor and Hulk have mysteriously disappeared.  Either one could have tipped the scales in this conflict, but the film did have a budget.  This allows Directors Anthony and Joe Russo to concentrate on the feud brewing between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers over the past two Avenger films.

The plot becomes more complicated when Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is thrown into the mix.  Stark wants him prosecuted in lynch mob style, while Rogers is determined to stand by his friend.  While Bucky is made the issue, the crux of the problem is really the Avengers autonomy. 

Back for another go-round are: Robert Downey, Jr as Iron Man; Chris Evans as Captain America; Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow; Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye; Paul Bettany as Vision; Don Cheadle as War Machine; Sebastian Stan as Bucky; Paul Rudd as Ant-Man; Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch; and Anthony Mackie as Falcon.  New to the mix are  Tom Holland as Spider-Man, and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.  Non superhero stars include William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard and Marisa Tomei, who is poised to give a whole new persona to Aunt May.

                                                                           

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      The opening battle in Lagos  
2.      Chasing Bucky  
3.      Airport tag-team match


CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR boasts spectacular SFX, though a chink in Marvel’s armor is showing.  The fight sequences are more stilted. Usually, the stars are filmed in key action shots, and then the animators connect the shots to make the sequence.  In this movie more than previous endeavors, there is a noticeable difference between the two forms.  It is slight, but it is definitely there.  Trent Opaloch served as Cinematographer, while Owen Paterson handled the production design.  Both are quality craftsmen and with a budget upwards of $250 million, they should not have been hampered.  Hopefully, it is not a harbinger of things to come.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR also serves as a nice set-up for ANT-MAN 2, THE BLACK PANTHER and the new SPIDER-MAN redo.  It also makes way for Chris Evans’ exit.  But the writing is already on the wall for Marvel’s future under Disney.  In this film, the big drag down battle at the airport is not something Geoff Johns would write, but rather something Vince McMahon would orchestrate for Monday Night Raw.  In fact, the entire scene, given prominence in the movie’s trailers, serves as the film’s comic relief.

Ant-Man and the new Spider-Man are showing a more humorous, very family friendly twist as the first true creations, along with Black Panther, under the Disney umbrella.  Black Panther serves to bolster the minority participation, and box office, while representing an independence free from vengeance and based on a social democratic ideology.  All hail Disney!  This is obvious banality; the stuff you will not see on Netflix’s DAREDEVIL.

So, we close the book on Marvel’s filmmaking, and turn the reigns over to the mouse.  The kids will love it.  This film actually had key dialogue scenes, and a development of argument in its script.  However, in any film, that takes time, and many of the youngsters were getting antsy in the theatre.  Most muttonheads want superheroes joking and whirling around and not stories.  I fear the upcoming Marvel movies will offer just that.





THE GRADE FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR = B

1 comment:

Ken Burke; Pat Craig said...

Hi Fiore, This time we diverge on more than the political commentary in your review (although as Tony Stark realizes his mistaken rush to judgment on the Winter Soldier being the bomber, to me this makes Capt. America's position of freedom from government restrain seem much more to be what this movie's advocating so I don't think he'll be seen as the bad guy in retrospect, even if he and some of the other Avengers are now in hiding) as I think the whole team vs. team thing just cluttered up what could have been a much better focus on the direct clash between Iron Man and Cap, with the rationales they were each defending.

So, I gave it 3 of 5 (lower than your B in both math and intent) with my details at http://filmreviewsfromtwoguysinthedark.blogspot.com/2016/05/captain-america-civil-war-and-meddler.html if you're interested. Ken