Author Topic: Captain America: Civil War  (Read 6887 times)

Paul Phoenix

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Captain America: Civil War
« on: April 28, 2016, 12:16:23 PM »

It's been released in some countries, so I'm going to post a thread here.

I'll follow with my spoiler review soon.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2016, 12:27:31 PM by Hermit »
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2016, 02:29:18 PM »
I'll refrain from going into detailed spoilers for now just in case someone can't help but read about whether if he should check out the film or not. I will talk about the general structure, so this is still a spoiler review - just without the details. Most of what I talk about, however, you'd have already seen in the trailers.

First of all, I think I'm done talking about the importance of fans being biased about their experiences of the source material, particularly when the Civil War comic book has such massive flaws. Captain America: Civil War tones down the exaggeration made in that book a lot, such that it became a more realistic story - all the better for it. But I think we need to talk about impact. We need to talk about the themes this movie sets up at the beginning, and how they don't pay off in the end.

The key element I look for in adaptations isn't if they're faithful to the material, but whether if they've told a better story. While the Russo Brothers have told a better story than Mark Millar, that isn't a very impressive accomplishment, considering Millar's notorious career. More importantly, as a standalone film, it has a very underwhelming third act because it forgets an important theme that's set up in the first act - the collateral damage the superheroes have caused the people. Where did that plot-point fly off to? The later-half of the movie shifts its focus onto a whole different plot-point, which for me doesn't work because it's the source of the problem we all started out with - superhero actions causing casualties. If Tony did indeed feel that people are dying because of their actions, where's the resolution for that problem in the end?

Thus, without such proper closure for a very interesting discussion the film brought up, it does lack in impact. I'm not asking for the film to hit me over the head with themes about civil liberties, no - that subtlety in execution was decent. What I'm asking for is pretty simple: you present a problem, you should show how the problem is fixed. Resolution. Closure. Because honestly, after a grudge match between Tony and Steve, the film ends almost immediately without talking about what The Avengers should do about the death toll at all, leaving me hanging. I'm not kidding!

So with this awful mess, was this a terrible movie? Far from it. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It's a highly entertaining film, and a funnier one than you might expect. There were so many times I caught myself laughing with the rest of the audience, having a good time. Spidey's appearance is also fantastic. As a Spidey fan, I had some enjoyable moments watching him. Don't be fooled into thinking that this is just a cameo. In fact, a lot of the ensemble cast are properly fleshed out in the film's 2hr 27mins runtime. I could barely feel the length at all because almost every scene felt important to the character development. This is a character-centric movie, not a story-centric one. But that's also where a problem comes in: it really should be titled "Iron Man: Civil War". My worst fear about this movie has come true... sort of.

The thing is, Cap is a difficult character to develop. He's a straight-arrow with single-minded principles. That makes him a better man in my opinion, but that can also make him dull to other people. Not me though. I believe that his idealized personality can be used to tell a great American story (note "Winter Soldier", the prior installment in this trilogy). He could have been utilized to show why freedom is an important value of America. Hypothetical uses aside, I felt like he's written to be a side character, not the main star. By the end of it, while it felt like a hearty journey with Cap and Bucky, there lacks the kind of emotional impact we see in Tony's development in the movie. Whether if that's a bad thing depends upon your attachment with a movie title - should a movie's plot be properly represented by its movie title, or should false advertisement be accepted?

Also, there is one biased complaint against Spidey - he's a government fink, siding against Cap. I really wanted to see Spidey being sensible enough to at least see that Steve might not be a bad guy, but by the end of the movie, he merely dismisses him, Captain America, the hero whom he grew up admiring in the comics. Yes, I know that this is an unfair complaint that came from my love for Spidey's comic counterpart, but please just allow me this small window to rant about not seeing a more astute version of my favorite character. And he didn't even have to join Cap's side, he could have just have a single line of dialogue showing his doubt in judgement. Granted, they sort of did that in this movie through an exchange between Cap and him, but I felt like he's still treating Cap as a dangerous criminal by the end of it. Okay, I'm done ranting.

These character writing aside, I have to admit that the action scenes are really good. They give a lot of screentime for the action scenes - and I do mean A LOT. The stand-off between both sides that you saw at the "Underoos!" trailer? That royal rumble lasted about 8 whole minutes. I'm not exaggerating, and if I am perhaps forgetful, maybe 6 minutes. It was a very long fight that felt like it came out of comic book pages, where such action is emphasized. Much like the amount of character development given to the entire cast, the action is also properly distributed among the Avengers. Each hero gets their own opportunity to showcase their powers - including a very surprising power-up for the Ant-Man... *wink-wink*

Overall, it's been a pretty entertaining film. I do wish that it's more than that, of course. I've yet to seen a Marvel film that's challenged my philosophical ideals the way The Dark Knight did. The only one that came close was The Winter Soldier. But I think I've done more than enough griping about these films being more than they should be, and so, I'll just accept that they don't work for me, at least not in a "blow my mind, super awesome" kind of way like everyone else. I wouldn't mind just watching them once and forget about it.

★★★★
« Last Edit: April 28, 2016, 04:04:34 PM by Hermit »
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

verbALs

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2016, 08:43:18 AM »
Captain America: Civil War

I can't control their fear, but I can control mine.
-Wanda Maximoff

{you need to get those quotes fresh out of a film cos they get away from you otherwise. }

First one must catch ones theme, and then one must stuff and mount ones theme.

So I can identify the theme, yet to use that theme for a greater understanding, I need to examine it in the context of the film. None of that requires spoilers. NO SPOILERS here. Actually I probably confuse a lot more than I explain. I'll be doing finger doodles next. That might be my best medium(?)

Another advantage? If one is, justifiably, tired of people punching each other colourfully; I don't care either. It's tired I agree. Yet a theme isn't much to do with that is it? So if I can paint a colourful enough finger doodle of Cap3 in thematic terms, then it might indicate that those who want to conduct a relationship with a movie on a level above that of a 12 year old with chipmunk cheeks of popcorn, then that might be possible. Hopefully, I can use some other examples which may in turn fold back into helping me understand my feelings better about this and future movies.

The idea of power coming with a large chunk of responsibility......I know yawn yeah? Well this is a theme, which these movies can't escape but which should develope with the characters. It can't be separated. I think though that nuance will come with an adult treatment away from the CGI. Cap2 had the egregious CGI ending. Horrible. Remember Washington for the stupid pixel fest. The adult nuance whilst the kids birthday party is rocking out on the back row? The problem that a superpowered being uniquely represents is that the power and the human are inseparable. The final news story I saw before I left was that war crimes may be brought following an Afghan hospital being destroyed by US weapons. Consider the weapon. The utter zenith of current technology in the hands of sophisticated people with a set of ethical standards and years of tradition. The responsibility rests in the hands of a system, a network of human organisation operating at the peak of operations understanding. Straight into a movie with a central concern about individuals wielding massive power. The Avengers don't know where Thor or The Hulk are; described as two 30 megatonne weapons. The effect is also seen that a human miscalculation guiding such impressive power is lethal. So the human mind itself isn't capable of handling their powers psychologically. The Winter Soldier, is a weapon bereft of human control; yet in the shape of a man. A lot of the characters in this film represent different aspects of humanity; strength, frailty, friendship, loyalty, vengeance. So whilst the fireworks proceed entertainingly there's a strong layer of how a typical human can ebb and flow in a tide of feeling. The powers primarily magnify those emotions.

At one point a character well versed in the themes of power with responsibility puts his finger on the causality of this world of superpower, which then extends into the normal world of supernormal technology. The one where a "nothing can go wrong" system bombs Medecine Sans Frontieres. His speech paraphrases as, if you have the power then you can't escape responsibility. Use it because it will still affect the world in which it exists. A comic example, in Miller's Batman....the one raped recently, Superman has embraced his heritage and is the US Military's prime weapon. He invades a Soviet backed banana republic. Best weapon. Least(er) casualties. Yet in Miller's brilliantly handled fascistic style, Superman becomes a mindless weapon who questions nothing and is merely directed.

At the other end of the scale in Moore's Miracleman two superhumanly endowed beings grow up; one into an adult without his abilities so without power and one from a child flawed by character into directing his powers into wealth and other human normal powers. The personalities govern how the power is used; bad character and good character. The two examples stand at the black and white ends of the scale but this is a discussion point not an argument. The black and the white show the limits of the effectiveness of the theme and enfold what lies in between. Many of the CACW players lie on the field of the discussion of this theme. Their differences inform and resonate with others. They speak about how emotion and power are intermingling. Someone's fear constricts them. Their humanity is in question as a restraint on their abilities. The idea that a system would not reflect the ability of a single human to fear or seek vengeance is examined. Yet human organisations reflect single human attributes and reactions. They must. Decisions are made by groups or generals or presidents. So to escape the causal problems of single people with too much power, somewhat, only reflects human history through a different set of refracting points. Perhaps the man who has killed with his bare hands is in a much better position to use the weapon again, rather than someone in a bunker on another continent. To bring it back to our real world of responsibities.

....and extend it into that world. Power isn't such a dramatic entity in normal life; until a missile hits a hospital, but power exists in every degree, up to life-giving and death-bringing proportions. The question is never about power as a quantity. Responsibility itself is an abstraction. It certainly isn't handed out in the same measuring cup with the power, but humans normally try to give over power to people who can be responsible with it. To judge somebody's worthiness for responsibility; and many qualities go into that pot. Responsibility is certainly not an emotion itself and one element in the make up of responsibility is the ability to handle one's emotions. Yet that isn't the same as quelling or repressing ones emotions, because as the Book of Jane says the judgment of a person is constructed strongly from emotional depth. Emotionally sensitive without being overwhelmed by your feelings, and certainly not stamping on them so they can't be used. So the queue of candidates for power has been significantly reduced in one fell swoop. In the world of superheroes, people tend to get the power accidentally and then try to live up to it. Yet the real responsibility is to realise that something could affect you so badly, that your judgement will be so badly affected that you can't control your power properly. Judgment can be shut down too. A good enough reason is all that takes. An active imagination can help you find a good enough reason also. Judgment, justifications, intelligence. None of those are emotions either. We rely on abstractions to govern our world. We don't study them, we don't learn how to use them. A piece of art or entertainment might give us an inkling of the weight of the subject. Something like intelligence bounces up and down according to how one feels, so the abstraction you use to keep you responding responsibly is being constantly bombarded by the beast that it is in charge of containing. Nasty little feedback loop? A justification can be superceded by another justification. Hannah says it was ok for a while but something is more important to me now, so I'm going to do the opposite. I don't actually believe we have much control over any of this. All we have is awareness. An ability to watch ourselves for signs of impaired judgment, which can then affect our ability to be responsible. We have to be our own jailer- for the beast in the dungeon, as much as giving ourselves wings when we need to fly.

Humanity implies imperfection. Acting accordingly seems reasonable. Trying to tear the responsibility from the person with the power is not an answer, and personal responsibility...since we all have power, one way or another; is the best answer available.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

verbALs

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2016, 08:46:19 AM »
Yes Hermie, its a better story than the comic book. A much better one maybe.

Didn't Stark agree to have his colleagues locked up if they resisted. That happens. Even when the jail is harsher than he liked he didn't break them out. I think that was the solution.

I think Spidey needs a little more time to reach the conclusion you expect of him. He's just getting over his cool new suit, and his new bestie Tony. Give him a second, he's only 15 here (I think). Originally Spidey has to go thru the Uncle Ben (?) murder to begin to grow into the man bit of Spiderman. Loads of films coming for that (but hopefully its this bouncing piece of bubblegum spidey cos there's enough grown ups in these films already. I thought any of those characters could have changed their minds at any moment because they were dancing along such a fine line of moral judgment constantly. My feeling was that "to use or not to use" ones powers became a little like "to be or not to be" by the films end.

My trouble is at the Stark end of the film. Zemo's plan hinged on Stark doing something that Stark somewhat decides to do from his own detective work. Not a trail of crumbs. Maybe a second watch would show a planted clue, but he arrives just in time for the plan to play out. No likey. The ending also turns on his rage at watching his parents being murdered. Apart from feeling itchy about the origins it reminds of, his killing rage; knowing how culpable Barnes was by then, was surprisingly unbridled. The guy who invented Ultron the killing machine etc. gets by on a "you killed my mom". It didn't feel part of the same film, but I tried to address that by showing how power couldn't be detached from the human and that had positive and negative sides (honestly thats what I was writing about)

Quote
"blow my mind, super awesome" kind of way like everyone else.
Please help me understand these black and white statements. Very internetty isn't it?  That audience is out there somewhere, why drag its carcass in here? For the fingerclicking type to approve. Black and white man. Both aren't any better.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2016, 09:07:54 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2016, 09:11:17 AM »
Didn't he agree to have his colleagues locked up if they resisted. That happens. Even when the jail is harsher than he liked he didn't break them out. I think that was the solution.

True, but the solution feels cheapened by Captain America's rescue. Is he saying that casualties are allowed? He never made an actual statement about the death toll.


I think Spidey needs a little more time to reach the conclusion you expect of him. He's just getting over his cool new suit, and his new bestie Tony. Give him a second, he's only 15 here (I think). Originally Spidey has to go thru the Uncle Ben (?) murder to begin to grow into the man bit of Spiderman. Loads of films coming for that (but hopefully its this bouncing piece of bubblegum spidey cos there's enough grown ups in these films already. I thought any of those characters could have changed their minds at any moment because they were dancing along such a fine line of moral judgment constantly. My feeling was that "to use or not to use" ones powers became a little like "to be or not to be" by the films end.

Yeah, I know it was an unfair criticism. Doesn't make me feel less salty about it. Hence why I said it was a biased statement.


but I tried to address that by showing how power couldn't be detached from the human and that had positive and negative sides (honestly thats what I was writing about)

I think that's the point of the film I had missed while writing the review. A little while after I posted it, I remembered what Black Panther said about vengeance consuming them. It felt like this whole 'accounting for the death toll' thing could be associated with the people's desire for vengeance upon the so-called 'Avengers' who indirectly killed their families - Zemo and Stark among those who suffered the blunt of collateral damage. This should have rightly made the film a stronger one, but I really found Cap's indifference towards the death toll off-putting. He didn't make a positive or negative statement about it. He just carried on his way, not caring that he's involved in crippling Rhodey. That's not the Cap I know, and if this is an attempt to make him seem flawed, it's sloppy and clumsy. It makes him look foolish and stupid, maybe forgetful, but not flawed in a selfish kind of way.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2016, 09:13:07 AM »
Quote
"blow my mind, super awesome" kind of way like everyone else.
Please help me understand these black and white statements. Very internetty isn't it?  That audience is out there somewhere, why drag its carcass in here? For the fingerclicking type to approve. Black and white man. Both aren't any better.

Well, I merely stated that just in case someone wants to get on my case about disliking a popular film, that's all. :P Don't take it too seriously. It was a casual remark to say "I probably won't love or have fun with these actioney Marvel films whatsoever, not even in the next century."
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

verbALs

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2016, 09:30:15 AM »
No I don't see Caps position changes. Stark is seen to be wrong because he had so much wrong about Barnes and then the footage of his parents means he loses control. He should lock himself up!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 02:40:55 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2016, 09:34:55 AM »
No I don't see Caps position changes. Stark is seen to be wrong because he had so much Wong about about Barnes and then the footage of his parents means he loses control. He should lock himself up!

I didn't say anything about Cap's position changing; I merely said that Cap supports his position but disregarded the consequences of his actions (along with those of other superheroes).
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

verbALs

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2016, 09:42:50 AM »
No I said it. He would always go to rescue the others. I don't see what that cheapens.

His character is always more interesting than his powers. He understands he needs to use his power not somebody else making decisions for him. I'm pondering how WW2 plays into that. He knows lessons the others haven't learnt.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2016, 09:47:09 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Captain America: Civil War
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2016, 09:47:13 AM »
No I said it. He would always go to rescue the others. I don't see what that cheapens.

It cheapened the whole issue of "hey, people dying because of your actions, Avengers" that was brought up at the very beginning of the film. Cap might think he's rescuing others, but Rhodey got crippled in part because of him. Not directly, but he's also partially at fault.

It would add to his character development if he presented some kind of resolution to the whole "people dying" issue, but he merely shrugged it off and set the Avengers free.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.