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Nov 23, 2013

The shark has been jumped, and in this case I may be the shark and Kevin Feige and his team of TV directors are the Fonz. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is the logical conclusion to – but unfortunately just the next phase of – this series of bloated, meaningless storytelling.

Following a series of disasters in both real American metropolises and fictional foreign nations, the less interesting Avengers (Thor and Hulk are elsewhere, as are the expensive big name love interests from previous films) find themselves subject to reckoning from the international community, demanding oversight to their actions, leading to a schism between those who idealistically see the negative implications and will not compromise, and those who see the path of least resistance and would like to keep a hand on the wheel.

After an hour or so of “good for basic cable but it ain’t HBO” style of drama which has earned Daredevil many fans (but man has that show also grown drab and tedious) we get the film’s centerpiece, a defining and damning moment – the big showcase battle royal – and in pro wrestling terms it is an indie spotfest that has all the weight of an arcade fighting game. For those uninitiated to the Sport of Kings, that means generic grapplers doing a lot of creative flipping with no selling (nothing hurts), no storytelling (are you working down a body part? do you have a strategy?), and no heat. And the “smart” indie fans lap it up in spite of knowing what actually makes a match any good.

Civil War has no heat. This is the movie that has divided up earth’s greatest heroes, telling us that a conflict has arisen where there is now no choice but to butt heads. And yet the process reveals no. goddamn. new. side. of. anyone. While Iron Man and Cap have their logical sides, and others have their loyalties, several others are there for no good reason at all, adding nothing to the shallow discussion, and damage their own characters in the process. Tom Holland makes a wonderful Peter Parker but a Spider-Man more eager to please new friends than do what’s right. Likewise Paul Rudd initially brings life with his fresh Ant-Man character but is quickly reduced to a bumbling fool showing none of the subtlety required in leading his own film. The time comes for battle, and there they go, and I buy their reasoning even less than Batman v Superman.

David Ehrlich summarizes the centerpiece better than I could have ever imagined when he writes:
“Watching “Civil War,” it’s easy to understand why the MCU is so hung up on the fight in New York — it’s the franchise’s only great action sequence. Joss Whedon’s visceral understanding of cinematic geometry and his symphonic flair for choreographing movement allowed that marquee set-piece to galvanize the separate threads of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a unified whole. On the contrary, every action beat in “Civil War” is such a discrete hodgepodge of close-ups and medium shots that they might as well exist in a vacuum — at times, this feels like the first movie ever made entirely out of gifs.”

And it’s not just the action in this scene that is so clumsily shot, choreographed, and considered. What the Russo’s are interested in this big moment… is quips! This big moment, planned for years over the course of several films, is upended by a pair of red and blue underoos. This scene is the big coming out party, and more thought seems to have been invested in putting butts in seats for Homecoming than paying anything off. And the quip-slinger is the other side of the mediocre coin. His material is good for an open mic, but ain’t no HBO Special. After a series of groan-worthy one-liners where Holland and Rudd ask for autographs from their friends and adversaries, they are sent off on his merry way and proven irrelevant.

Which ultimately makes AVENGERS 3: THE CAPTAINING an annoying 2 and a half hour chore. It takes its audience for granted, choosing to pander to them in spurts rather than build on their characters or do the heavy lifting in the dialogue department that a story like his requires. Not one character comes out of this any more compelling, and other new additions such as Black Panther come off like Netflix original material. It takes itself too seriously only to gleefully undermine itself during its most crucial scene. Because who needs a climax when your goal is to avoid anything that might require something resembling an ending. The Civil War story suggests the need to go somewhere they can’t walk back from, and there is clearly no willingness to commit.

Which ultimately (no pun intended) makes this universe a big bubbly Aero bar of nothing. If Civil War were a political candidate, it would be Chance from Being There. And like the wrestling nerds, the comic book smart marks will lap it up anyways, because hey! It’s Spider-Man! And he’s better than the last one! End credits stingers! Giant Man was there! The spotfest awakens.

The failures and fiascos of Dawn of Justice are more interesting and more entertaining than Civil War’s overlong, meandering autopilot. Don’t worry true believers, the nothing villains, insulting fake-out death scenes and plasticine spectacle you’re used to defending is still there too. It’s clear Marvel are done taking chances, and even the casting controversies are borne out of global box office risk management meetings. I’ve had enough. Marvel is known for its “promise” stingers and the films have become feature length promises for dramatic turns and climaxes that no longer come. gently caress this baby food movie universe.

I’ll see you at X-Men, because those movies are still about something, even if it’s always the same thing.

*Who am I kidding, I’ll see the thankfully-still-seemingly-standalone-Guardians 2, am curious about Doctor Strange, and will probably see Thor 3 and Ant-Man 2 just because. Staying in the soap-opera conversation is alluring, which makes me and people like me a big part of the problem.


Apr 14, 2006


This was bad but Spiderman was cute.

Hitlers Gay Secret
Mar 7, 2010

The Third Reich's under new -- and better -- management.

Hasn't word reached Camp Pendleton yet?

College Slice

I enjoyed it a lot more than DC's recent foray into throwing a bunch of super heroes together. I figure that has to do more with the fact that we've had the chance to see most of these characters in previous movies. Their appearance is more natural than shoehorned I feel. Except for Spider-man, but he's a legal nightmare. I thought the building explosion at the beginning was a little too 9/11-ish for my tastes but I'm probably over-analyzing the scene. Also Vision wearing poloshirts was both funny and stupid at the same time. My main issue is future movies are going to force these two characters to become teammates again, rendering the ending moot.


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