Monday, May 30, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

2.5/4

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johannson, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruhl, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, William Hurt

Rated PG-13 for Extended Sequences of Violence, Action and Mayhem

Will this superhero obsession ever end?  I get that geekdom is cool now and they're easy to market, but must Hollywood keep churning out one after another?  I wouldn't be so hard on them if they were any good, which admittedly some of them are (Nolan's "Batman" franchise is one such example).  But save for a few exceptions, these movies seem less interested in telling a compelling story than satisfying every fan in the world and making a quick and easy buck.

The Avengers are known around the world as saviors, but people are getting concerned with all the death and destruction.  That's when a politician named Thaddeus Ross (Hurt) tells them that the governments of the world want them to sign the Sokovia Accords, which will beholden them to the U.N.  Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Downey) and a few others reluctantly agree.  Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Evans) believes that they need to become autonomous.  When the Nigerian king is killed at the signing, Cap's old friend Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier is fingered for the blame.  Cap believes that Bucky was brainwashed, while Tony insists that Bucky be brought to justice.  The bitter conflict between the team has just escalated to all out war.

I remember seeing a photoplasty on Cracked.com showing photoshopped images of what life would be like in a Michael Bay movie.  It was very funny, especially when one realizes that few films take the time to consider the costs of saving the world.  It's an intriguing idea, even if "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" got their first.  Sadly, the Russo brothers fail to do anything interesting with the idea (Zack Snyder was guilty of this too).  There are the obvious moral justifications for both points of view, but the writing is so bland and the performances are so lackluster that it fails to generate an emotional response.

The Marvel movies have always assembled great casts, but usually the writing is so bad that it takes a herculean effort to generate a marginally interesting character from it.  I suppose that's fine for the die-hard fans, since they already have an emotional connection to the characters, but for people like me it leads to boredom.  And "bored" is exactly how I would describe the performance in this movie.  Originally slated to have a cameo in this movie, Downey wanted more screen-time and money.  It's a shame that he didn't work harder to earn it.  Chris Evans is flat as the holier than thou Cap.  Evans's abilities as an actor are few, but in the past he's worked well as Captain America.  Like Downey, he appears to be simply taking a vacation.

The Russo brothers aren't on their game either.  With their work in "The Winter Soldier," they did something that was considered to be a lost art: create action scenes that work on a visceral level.  That doesn't happen here.  Sure, it's kinda fun to watch superheroes pound the hell out of each other and see which one is going to turn up next, but those are only a few of the pleasures in a very long movie.

Mention must be made of the 3-D.  Normally it's at best unnoticeable, but here it's godawful.  Even in bright IMAX, it's embarrassingly bad.  It's grimy, messy, and with plenty of lag.  If you want to waste your time and money on this movie, avoid the 3-D.

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