Marvel knows how to make a movie.
Personally, I have only read a handful of Marvel comics, but have followed the cartoons growing up as a kid, and watched all of the superhero movies that would come out as I got older. I’m also a Spider-Man guy, so I was going into this film with some pretty high expectations.
In reference to acting talent, Captain America: Civil War really sets the bar high. With the very rich, multi-film character development, audiences are really invested in these characters down to the very minutia of their costume, and the good news is that the caliber of talent behind these characters is never lacking. One performance I would like to particularly applaud is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. I’ve been a long-time fan of all of the Iron Man movies as well as Downey as an actor, and I think he really surpassed his previous performances as Stark. Without getting into spoiler zone, the plot is very deep and requires a lot of emotional turmoil within Tony Stark, and Downey really stepped up his game for this one—the facial expression, body language, and witty jokes have never worked so well on screen as it did in this movie. Not to mention the scene they did where they made Downey look like a 20-year-old! But to be honest, I was really worried about Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, not for any particular reason, but having another new actor play the beloved Spider-Man seemed a little unsettling at first, but honestly, Civil War has probably the best cinematic depiction of Spider-Man to date. The jokes were perfect: well-timed, witty, and very Spider-Man. Honestly I was laughing for about half of the movie because of the perfect performance of the comedy throughout. All I’m going to say is that the scene where Tony Stark meets Peter Parker for the first time is the funniest scene in my opinion.
Which brings me to the film’s writing; I thoroughly enjoyed the balance between humor, action, and emotional distress. This is as a whole a very serious movie, but it has so many good punch lines and subtle humor that really give the story a full body. In terms of predictability, I’m glad to say that in general, the story took a few turns I really wasn’t expecting. Some of the actions scenes played out a little stereotypically, but nothing that affected the story negatively in any way. I respect the pacing, even though this was a very ambitious film, and the way this film played out did make me a little nervous for Infinity War, which is supposed to have over double the characters. At times it did seem like things were rushed in order to include everyone, even though the film as a whole is pretty damn long. It’s 2 and a half hours, as long as Inception and almost as long as Interstellar. After watching and nitpicking all the trailers like many people do, I’m happy to say the the trailer led me to believe certain things about the movie that were actually completely contrary to the actual storyline, so for those people who deliberately don’t watch trailer to avoid spoiling it for themselves, it didn’t spoil anything, it just made all of the payoffs more intense.
From an artistic perspective, or at least from my director’s perspective, there are some things I personally would change, obviously. There was a lot of shaky cam to the point to where it almost made me want to stop watching for a second to get my bearings. There are other ways to hide actors who can’t fight, if it is because of that reason, and if it is specifically done to match a certain style or feel, I think it’s in poor taste. That’s a shortened version of my rant on shaky cam for now. I would have liked to see color theory play a little bit more of a role in the storytelling, everything seemed too true and natural, and I didn’t really pick up on much if any grading, except to notify we’re in a different location. But the fight choreography was amazing. This is one of the reasons I appreciate and enjoy Marvel’s modern stuff even though its often bashed. Fight choreography is hard in the first place, but throw in super heroes who can fly, phase through objects, shrink, or move things with their mind, and you have a nightmare to choreograph. I’m glad it was pulled off so well. I think for the most part, a lot of the CGI was in good taste and well-done, but I’ll have a whole paragraph dedicated to the CGI and VFX since everyone seems to have an opinion, whether or not they understand CGI or how it works. So although I understand the whole theme of the film is the crumbling of the Avengers and how they are all pitted against each other, I feel like there was a huge missed opportunity in developing the villains. The film almost focuses too much on the Avengers and their problems and less on the people that caused them to start fighting in the first place.
Ok, the part many will find the most interesting: the CGI & VFX of Civil War. In terms of the VFX, I did see a lot of the publicly released B-Roll footage (the raw clips without any editing or CGI) and there was a fair balance of practical and computer-generated. I enjoyed how pretty much all of the interior was practical even though most of the exterior has green screens, which is fine by me. One thing in particular I really liked is how they actually had Chris Evans (the Captain himself) holding back the landing bar of a helicopter on set. What they did for that scene is they had Chris hold onto the bar and they essentially had a crane pull the bar away to get the popping and rippling of Evans’s muscles, not to mention his veiny forearms. One thing that bothers me, and it is little to no fault of the movie itself, is that some people will criticize the CGI without even knowing how it works, or what is even CGI in the first place. For starters, Tom Holland was in a real Spider-Man suit, however fake you may think it looks. They did touch-up work and added onto it with CGI, like the eyes, but Tom was really wearing a physical suit made specifically for him. Secondly, I hear a lot of criticism about the Iron Man armor in general, and to many people’s surprise, Downey is rarely ever in a full MoCap suit. Like in Iron Man 3, he sometimes wears the full armor, and often wears the chest piece at least. And most of the CGI, most people didn’t even notice, or even thought it was CGI at all. Not like Black Panther, though, that was 100% a real suit and it is a badass suit, too. Okay maybe the claws are fake for some of the shots.
In all, I have very little to no complaints with this movie. It was fun, it was funny, it was exciting, and those are all qualities of a great movie, whether it is considered “artistic” or not. It really brought these characters to life, both new and old, and did a great job of staying true to the characters.
I give it a 9/10 and will probably see it a second time in theaters just for Spider-Man.
Also, there are two after-credits scenes, they’re both great.