New ‘Captain America’ A Great Start To Summer


The new film Captain America: Civil War is the first blockbuster of the summer season, and it fills that role well. It has spectacular effects, it has more than a bit of humor and it even has some interesting philosophical discussions on responsibility. It is not as good a film as the previous Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it still provides a great couple of hours at the theater.

It actually is more of a sequel to the last Avengers movie where at the end, an entire city is destroyed. Yes, it was the bad guys doing it, but our heroes had their share of responsibility. Now, as they wait in West Africa for an attack on a building holding a dangerous bacteria, they are proceeding as if the earlier attack never happened. Under the leadership of Captain America Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a group of the heroes, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), have a wild chase and prevent a major disaster, but along the way, there is again collateral damage and innocents die.

The United Nations steps in and demands that the heroes come under its control. Iron Man Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), feeling guilty about the damage, leads the group who accepts the control. Captain America refuses to agree, saying that he trusts his own feelings of responsibility more than that of a group of governments.

In the middle of all of this, a bomb explodes, killing many of the delegates in Vienna where the heroes are expected to give up control. Cameras show that it is the work of Bucky Barnes, also known as “The Winter Soldier” (Sebastian Stan). Rogers refuses to accept that his friend would have done it despite knowing he had previously been brainwashed. Rogers tries to capture Bucky alive and winds up becoming a criminal as a result.

His group includes Winter Soldier, along with Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Stark has War Machine (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow and a new recruit, Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Added to the mix is another superhero, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), the son of an African king killed in the bomb that went off who wants revenge.

The “Cap Team” learns that Bucky was framed and goes after the culprit with “Team Iron” out to stop them. Of course, there is a spectacular battle, which is a lot of fun. Spider-Man is a new force who does really well until he learns that fighting other superheroes is not easy. Rudd gets a few minutes of fun as well. A lot more happens, but you will have to see the film.

The acting is good considering the limited amount of real emoting required, and (as usual) Downey is the quirkiest. He has a lovely scene with Alfre Woodard doing a superb cameo dealing with the tragedy of loss, and then must deal with the impact of his own choices. Stan is also good as the occasionally bewildered Bucky. I also liked Holland, a nice choice for the upcoming Spider-Man series. Emily VanCamp does nicely as a love interest who can really kick butt.

The argument over responsibility was handled well. Instead of making one side clearly correct, points were made for both. It reflects some of our choices for government now: power to the people or power to each person.

The action moves along fast. It opens with a set action chase and keeps moving. There are times when some discussion takes place, but never for very long, something really valuable in this very long film (2 hours, 26 minutes). The effects, for a change, are fairly small-scale but done really well. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo mix in nice bits of comedy and character change in with all the action. At times, the characters behave differently from expectations, which creates interesting shadings, something not often seen in this kind of movie.

This is the first summer blockbuster, and it is one you should definitely think about seeing. We all had a great time.