Monday, June 06, 2016

Captain America: Civil War | Review

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(spoiler-free review)

When the United Nations propose the Sokovia Accords, putting superhumans who sign them under the UN’s command, the Avengers become divided as they discuss signing. Civil war commences when the UN sends their Avengers, led by Tony, on a manhunt for Bucky Barnes with orders to shoot on sight and Steve and his Avengers protect Bucky, thereby opposing the UN and making themselves criminals. It’s the UN versus Bucky, and Avengers on either side. 

Steve and Tony are both concerned with being responsible for their actions, but they go about being responsible in different ways. Steve, by knowing his limits and Tony, by consigning his abilities.

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Tony believes the responsible thing is to put himself under the jurisdiction of the UN so they can maintain safety by controlling the Avengers’ power. Tony’s smart and not used to being fooled. You see that in Iron Man when he realizes Yinsen, a fellow prisoner who helps him escape captivity, never planned to escape himself. It makes Tony sick. But he escapes, honoring Yinsen’s sacrifice and last words - don’t waste it - don’t waste your life - dedicating his life to protecting the world. It’s unsettling for Tony to realize he’s made a mistake, but ultimately he’s able to move on with new awareness. In Civil War Tony is blamed for bad things happening. He signs the Accords, hoping the UN won’t make the mistakes he might. It’s a parallel to what happened in Iron Man where he stops making weapons, having realized their consequences, and instead builds the Iron Man suit to protect people. In Civil War, Tony signs the Sovokia Accords, putting himself under the jurisdiction of the UN. He does whatever he believes it takes to stop bad things from happening, but he doesn’t always understand who’s responsible for them and consequently how to prevent them effectively.

the way Tony doesn't even look him in the face before hitting Steve --> Still angry at you, Stark.
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Steve believes if the Avengers submit to the UN their oversight would hinder the Avengers’ ability to protect: “What if they don’t let us go where we need to?” And he’s wary of trusting the UN: “What if they send us somewhere we don’t want to go?” As Dr. Erskine, who helped give Steve his powers, said, he’s not a perfect soldier, but a good man. A good man, careful to do the right thing, not a good soldier who follows orders blindly. To Steve, being self responsible is a fundamental of what it means to be American: being American means every man standing up for what he believes to maintain truth and hold his country responsible to it:
This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. (Cap in The Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War; In Civil War Sharon Carter quotes Peggy Carter, paraphrasing a section of this speech)
The value of standing up for what you believe, whatever the odds, is the value that makes Steve Rogers Captain America, and it’s also why he decides not to sign the Accords, just as the quality which caused billionaire-playboy-philanthropist Tony Stark to become the hero Iron Man is also why he decides to sign the Accords. 

Bucky is also concerned with being responsible, worried about his actions should he lose control of himself. We know Steve and Bucky are close friends from First Avenger and Winter Soldier. They grew up together, have fun together, fought together. But in Civil War it’s evident they also share the same values, values which prompt them both to take full responsibility of their actions.

via | I's hard to describe how much I love this moment.
The many characters of Civil War are handled naturally, their goals and relationships carrying them on and off screen. Spider-Man is exactly what he should be: “When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t, and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you”. Black Panther can objectively see the big picture and is a necessary character in the difficult circumstances of Civil War. Ant-Man and Wanda’s second appearances made me like them more and Bucky as he should always be is the central thread the story wraps around. Vision, Rhody, Sam Wilson, Sharon Carter, Natasha, and Clint Barton all contribute to the story’s progress. 

Maybe it’s just me, but Civil War isn’t the movie to begin watching Marvel movies with, not only because of the plot, but also because to be in it emotionally you’ve got to already be attached to the characters, otherwise you’re just watching. It’s like there’s no emotional entrance. 


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The choreography, camera work, soundtrack, and eloquent, masterful script tieing back to every relevant previous Marvel movie with parallels and developing themes are what I adore most about the Russo brothers’ directing (so basically everything). The main themes in Civil War are responsibility and vengeance. The patterns of movement in the fight scenes are like a dance. As one reviewer said, Cap’s fighting style is raw, and more defined than in previous movies. Henry Jackman’s music is harshly beautiful and wailing. In Civil War there’s one scene shown four times, each time you learn and feel something new. That’s exactly what perspective should do: grow understanding. Civil War builds up scene after scene, tying itself together with repeating themes and parallels, giving it a sense of wholeness and defined purpose.

MY RATING: 4-5/5
(Need to watch it again to know for sure. Winter Soldier is still my favorite.)

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF CIVIL WAR? HAVE YOU SEEN IT? IF YOU’VE WRITTEN A REVIEW LEAVE A LINK, I’D LOVE TO READ IT.


SPOILERS: Right when Stark was about to move on from the mistake of thinking Bucky a villain his deepest emotions are manipulated, turning him against Bucky. Tony knows Bucky isn’t responsible for his actions under mind control, but, “I don’t care. He killed my mom”.  Bucky himself knows he’s not responsible, but, “I still did it”. Everyone has some place where reason just doesn’t have the same import and human emotion rules the day. Tony was unreasonable to fight Bucky, but Zemo wasn’t using reason to turn the Avengers against each other, he was toying with human emotion. He was smart. You can’t confuse people forever with twisted logic, but simple blatant human emotion is difficult to reason, and if you toy with it enough people stop caring about being reasonable. 

The motives in Civil War are simple - Zemo avenging his family, Panther avenging his father, Tony avenging his parents, the UN hunting a supposed bomber - and the complexities are all because of perspective, understanding, and communication. It emphasizes the idea that war is confusion, as Vision implied. 

It’s interesting in the final fight between Tony, Steve, and Bucky that they each lose their token: the arc reactor powering Tony’s suit, Bucky’s metal arm, and Steve’s shield. It’s symbolic of how no side really wins in war. As the tagline said, “divided we fall”. ‘We fall’ - not one side fallen and one side standing, every side fallen. END OF SPOILERS

16 comments:

  1. I just saw it last Saturday, and honestly, I didn't think it was as good as some other Marvel movies. I thought it was way unrealistic and stuff, but still good. Thank you for commenting on my blog!

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    1. Sure thing, and thank you! I'm curious, when you say unrealistic are you thinking of the stunts and action part or more the emotional/political discussion turning into a fight part or both or what? :) xx

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  2. I saw it a few days ago, I heard lots of good things about it, but I actually didn't like it..I liked some of the emotional aspects of it, but I felt that the movie just dragged too much.
    Great review!!

    -Jollygirl @ Reflections of a Jolly Girl

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    1. Thanks Jollygirl! It's interesting to hear how different people liked it. xx

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  3. This was excellent. I agree that you can't really understand or be emotionally invested in this movie unless you follow the preceding Avengers movies. Also, I think the time spent invested in these characters contributes to the experience. It's been, what? Five years since we were first introduced to Captain America? It's weird to think I was in high school when I first met Iron Man and "The First Avenger". But because of the length of time that has passed knowing these characters, it's like I have grown with them.

    I'm torn between Winter Soldier and Civil War as well. I can't wait until the Russo Brothers make Bucky's stand-alone movie. Or better yet, a Black Widow and Bucky movie. ;)

    Dani xoxo
    a vapor in the wind

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    1. Thanks Dani! ♥ I agree, being a Marvel fan is so much fun. Yes, exactly! I love the feeling of having grown up with the characters, and also of growing with them.

      Oh my goodness that would be amazing. The Russo brothers are great.

      xx

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  4. I think Winter Soldier is the best out of all of the Captain American movies.

    You're right, one can't enter this movie unless they have emotionally invested in this characters before. A problem I did have with the movie is Zemo. Zemo just came out of nowhere, and I didn't feel as if he were a strong antagonist, but part of the blame is also placed on the fact that a lot of the conflict is based on the two sides, Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man. Other than that, it was a pretty well written movie! I can't wait for the Infinity War movies to come out!

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Me too. :)

      You mean you felt like Zemo wasn't as strong a antagonist because the conflict was emphasized as Iron Man v Cap instead of, say, the Avengers v Zemo? That's an interesting perspective. I think it makes sense though that the conflict was emphasized as it was, rather than being Zemo against the Avengers, because Zemo's whole strategy was to turn the Avengers against themselves. (Not that you don't know that, just thinking out loud. haha)

      It emphasizes to me anyway how, though the Avengers were being manipulated (both emotionally, like Tony learning his parents were killed by Bucky under mind control, and otherwise, like the UN and its superhumans being tricked into thinking Bucky was the bomber), they were still responsible for their actions. So in that sense Zemo isn't so much creating discord between them as he is pulling an already set trigger. Like he's not making up anything to turn them against each other: it's all already there, he's just pulling the strings to bring them down. As I said in the spoilers section of my review, I liked how the motives were so simple, because it emphasizes how all the conflict is confusion. Zemo's motive is vengeance for his family. I guess I liked him as an antagonist because he's not like the stereotypical "bad guy" who the "good guys" fight. None of the Avengers (if I remember correctly) ever fight Zemo directly. Instead, he's simply the initiator of the conflict, which is then able to carry on on its own.

      The basic reason I liked Zemo as the antagonist is because he tries to destroy the Avengers by manipulating what's already present among them, rather than physically trying to break them. Trying to physically break them would have just brought them closer together (the basic plot line of Avengers: Assemble), but breaking them apart from the inside out makes it difficult for them to come together again (especially because then they have to overcome their personal emotions), and when they're separated they're weaker and basically, "divided we fall". I like that he fights them intellectually because it's more realistic (besides being more interesting than stuff blowing up) and also we get to learn a lot more about the actual characters that way.

      That was a very long reply. I'm not sure if I was really answering what you said about why you didn't like Zemo. ANYway I'm glad you enjoyed it Morning. :) xx

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  5. Glad you also liked the movie! I agree; it was spectacular! So well done. Great review! :)

    -James

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    1. It was fantastic. Thanks so much James! :)

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  6. Excellent review, Sarah! I love the way you see this movie. This is the first review of the movie I've read so far that actually makes me understand why people didn't see flaws in places I saw them. The way you describe Tony's motivations, and Zemo's plans is really good. I think you really understood what the filmmakers were going for with this movie and that's great!

    I still see the flaws I saw, but, I guess I was digging deeper than I was supposed to when I noticed them. I don't usually judge superhero movies against reality, but I did with this one because they brought reality in by giving realistic consequences to the superhero-ing. I guess maybe that wasn't their intention though. Hmm. One thing's for sure -- I need to see this movie again!

    The motorcycle stunt was the best! And I adored that quote from Spider-Man. So good and simple. :) Again, great review -- I'm glad you liked it!

    Here's mine, if you haven't read it yet. But be warned -- it sounds mostly negative even though I gave it 4 stars. :P :http://howtowatchamotionpicture.blogspot.com/2016/05/captain-america-civil-war.html

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    1. Thanks so much Sarah! That is such a nice compliment haha - thank you so much! :)

      I just replied to your review with a Very Long comment, by the way. It was really interesting to read your review and see the movie in a different way. It's always so weird and interesting to me how people can see the same movie and see different things in it. haha. But I really enjoyed your review because I feel like we share a lot of the same feelings about the characters and so I really appreciated your perspective on how they were handled in Civil War.

      That stunt was awesome. I was so happy when it happend. :D Thanks again Sarah! xx

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  7. Thank you so much for writing this review it sounds like a thought provoking movie, I'm interested in seeing it now. I've been up and down about whether of not to rent it when it's available as I've already opted not to watch it in theaters, this seems to tip the scales for me, I'm going to give it a chance, I really hope I enjoy this film. I'm a thoughtful person and I like watching movies that make me think, and on that note, I thank you again for the review and bid ado :)

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    1. Hi Sarah! It is thought provoking, and a great movie. :) (I'd suggest watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier first though if you haven't already, or it might not make much sense. Or better yet, watch Captain America: First Avenger and then Winter Soldier and then Civil War. They're all great movies. Winter Soldier is my favorite though (it's also thought provoking and interesting in that way).)

      I really hope you enjoy it Sarah! Movies that make you think are the best. I really love the movie that comes before Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier because it asks difficult questions and makes me think. You might like it too. :) Anyway, thanks so much for commenting Sarah! :)

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  8. Great review! I agree with many of the things you said :) I reviewed it here

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    1. Thanks AmyNikita! Awesome, I'll check it out right now. Thanks for the link. :)

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