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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Captain America: Civil War

September 25th, 2016

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Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is the 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s 13 films in just 8 years. The film pulled in more than $1 billion worldwide, so the market isn’t tired of these movies. However, has the brisk pace resulted in a substandard film? Or is it yet another critical smash?

The Movie

The film starts in Siberia in 1991 on a military base. We see the Winter Soldier activated and sent on a mission. He tracks down a car traveling at night, kills the occupant, and removes a package in the trunk containing five blue gel packs.

We then switch to modern day Lagos where Captain America and his team, Black Widow, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are staking out a potential target. Crossbones is reportedly in the area and looking to rob the local police station. However, it turns out his target is a nearby Institute for Infectious Diseases. Because they are unprepared, the fight is more chaotic than they would like, and while they stop the biological agent from falling into the wrong hands, many locals are killed in the battle.

We then switch focus to Tony Stark, who is showing off a bit of tech he spent more than $600 million developing. There’s no practical commercial application that justifies that expense, so it would have never been developed had it not been a personal project of his. He uses this to explain why he’s funding every single project from the MIT class that year. This should be a great day for him, but Pepper Potts recently left him and he meets the mother of one of the people who died in Sokova.

The Lagos incident was the latest and governments all over the world think The Avengers need to have more oversight. This includes King T'Chaka of Wakanda. Stolen Vibranium from Wakanda was used by Ultron and as a result, King T'Chaka decided Wakanda should not be isolationist anymore and should work to help better the world. Nearly a dozen of their aid workers were killed in the fight with Crossbones. He fought for the creation of Sokovia Accords, which would put the Avengers under the control of a UN panel.

Some of the Avengers agree with this, like Tony Stark, James Rhodes, Natasha Romanoff, and Vision. It makes sense that Tony Stark would agree to this. After all, he created Ultron, albeit accidentally, so he feels guilty for the death and destruction Ultron caused. On the other hand, Steve Rogers just dealt with a Hydra takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D., so he is reluctant to let another large group take over. It might be a UN panel today, but it could be infiltrated or corrupted. The members of The Avengers have two choices: agree to the Sokovia Accords or retire as Avengers.

Meanwhile, we meet Helmut Zemo. He has tracked down Vasily Karpov, the Hydra agent in charge of the Winter Soldier. He is very interested in the mission we saw at the beginning of the film and tortures Karpov for information stealing Karpov’s notebook and files before killing him.

Two more pieces of the plot fall into place. Firstly, Steve Rogers learns Peggy Carter has passed away. Until Bucky Barnes resurfaced as the Winter Soldier, Peggy Carter was the only person from his life during World War II that was still alive, so this hits Steve Rogers really hard. Then, during the actual signing of the accords, a terrorist attack happens killing a number of people, including King T'Chaka. Video shows the attacker was the Winter Soldier. King T'Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows revenge. Steve Rogers wants to bring him in alive, because he’s the only one from his old life still alive. However, since Steve Rogers didn’t sign the Sokovia Accords, he’s now a fugitive and Tony Stark is given the task of bringing him in.

I don’t want to talk about Batman v Superman again, because it is so bad. However, that film and Captain America: Civil War do have some similarities that have to be addressed. In both movies, we see super heroes who should be allies fighting each other. In BvS, they are tricked into fighting each other by Lex Luthor, Jr., with a plan that is so dumb it should have never have worked. Here, there’s is also a force working behind the scenes to make the Avengers turn against each other, but the plan actually makes sense. It’s not perfect, as there are times where you might question how the bad guy was able to predict the actions of so many people in order to execute their plan. That said, I would rather have a bad guy who is a little too good at predicting the good guys’ actions than good guys who undergo “plot-dependent personality changes” like we see in BvS.

On a side note, I’ve seen more than a few people ask why Steve Rogers does what he does. The answer is simple, Bucky Barnes is the last person from his old life still around. Of course he would do what it would take to save him. Likewise, Tony Stark has always been a little jealous of Steve Rogers, because Rogers had a better relationship with Tony’s father than Tony did. Combine that with the PTSD from the first Avengers movie, the screw-up with Ultron, and Pepper Potts leaving him in a very emotionally vulnerable place. It’s no surprise there was a schism in the group that could be exploited.

Oh, and before anyone asks, “Where was Thor?” He’s in Asgard dealing with Ragnarok. That’s a bigger issue than what’s happening in this movie. This is one of the film’s strengths, by the way. It doesn’t feel like the end of the world, but instead feels like a more personal story being told with these characters. It has always been my opinion that action scenes are only good if you have an emotional stake with the characters. Otherwise it is only as engaging as a fireworks display, and I hate fireworks. On a side note, the Spider-Man origin story is perfect here. It gets to the emotional heart of why he’s a super hero, without needing to show us Uncle Ben being shot. I really hope the people in charge of Batman learn from this, because I don’t want to see Bruce Wayne’s parents murdered ever again.

The action scenes are extremely well done, thanks in large part to the wide array of different powers the various combatants have. There are some that are quite similar, many could be described as “good in hand-to-hand combat, but with a shtick.” However, for the most part, we get differences both in powers and personalities. This allows for some great little character moments that add a lot to the overall movie, although talking about them would be spoilers. I can't even say which characters get the best lines without spoiling something. For some moviegoers, it might be kind of odd to watch an action scene where we like both sides and we want them to do cool things, but we don’t want any of the participants to get hurt. However, for Comic Book nerds, these kinds of battles are arguably the "nerdiest" part of the genre, so I'm really glad it was as well done as it was.

The Extras

Extras begin with an audio commentary track with the two co-directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, as well as the two co-writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Up next is a two-part, 46-minute long making of featurette called United We Stand, Divided We Fall. There are also two Road to Civil War featurettes that focus on Captain America and Tony Stark and how the two men grew and wound up on opposite sides of this conflict. The final featurette is actually a four-minute preview for Doctor Strange. Finally, there are also 8-minutes of deleted / extended and scenes and four minutes of outtakes. This is a good selection of extras.

The Verdict

Captain America: Civil War isn’t quite the best movie in the MCU, but it is really close. If you are a fan of Marvel Comics or of super hero movies in general, then this is a must have. The Blu-ray Combo Pack has enough extras that it is a Pick of the Week contender.

Filed under: Video Review, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Daniel Bruhl, Don Cheadle, Robert Downey, Jr., Jesse Eisenberg, Chris Evans, Frank Grillo, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, James Spader, Sebastian Stan, Alfre Woodard, Stephen McFeely, John Kani, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Christopher Markus