Captain America – Civil War – film review

"Captain America Civil War" poster.
“Captain America – Civil War” poster.
I went into Captain America – Civil War with very low expectations. Previews made it sound (much like Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice) like something grown men certainly should have been able to settle without fighting. To my surprise, I did like it. It’s not by any means the best film in Marvel’s cinematic universe, but it’s a reasonably solid, strong entry.

For the tiny handful of people not familiar with the plot by now—due to a variety of incidents in which, yes, the Avengers achieved their excellent goals but caused a lot of destruction in the process—a number of governments have agreed upon the Sokovia Accords, and the Avengers are expected to agree to them, as well. Some do. Some don’t.

Meanwhile, Bucky (still fighting the brainwashing to which he was subjected) has been framed for some pretty horrific attacks. Cap, of course, heads to the rescue, while Tony Stark/Iron Man (fighting a weighed-down conscience) is most insistent that the team needs to stay put and abide by the Accords, lest something even worse be imposed.

Finding and taking care of Bucky, finding the real orchestrator behind the attacks, and finding out what our villain-du-jour is really up to occupy much of the rest of Captain America – Civil War. Along the way, we meet Black Panther, who (though originally hell-bent on revenge) winds up playing a significant and surprisingly moving role in the story. We also encounter Spider-man, who has just the right balance of naivete and quick-witted snark.

It’s a good film. Motives are well-developed. The conflict, when it breaks out, is believable. There are still some eye-rolling moments, but the setup is a lot better than I’d feared it would be. Plot points leading up to big fights make them significant to the story and the characters. There are some fun cameos. Character development is quite nuanced, for a film that has to click through as many characters and stories as this one does.

As with Age of Ultron, Captain America – Civil War suffers from tackling ALL the characters (well, almost–we’re missing Thor and the Hulk) and ALL the stories, instead of focusing on a select few. Because they were trying to cover too much ground in one film, the film wound up feeling rushed and jumpy. But hey, marketing and contracts and big fight scenes.

Speaking of which, the combat scenes are spectacularly well-choreographed, with each character getting chances to shine. The special effects are great, and the cinematography is just jarring enough to keep you on edge, without making you seasick. My only complaint: a few of the scenes really did go on too long. I adore a good fight scene, but the director stretched several of the more spectacular fights to the point that the spectacular-ness wore off, and I was left wondering, “Okay, with ALL the stuff they’ve given themselves to cover in Captain America – Civil War, shouldn’t they be getting back to it?”

I’ve read some complaints about the time spent leading up to the actual “civil war” part of the film. I actually liked it. By spending the time developing the characters’ relationships and showing how the team, for all its problems, really did work, the film makers make the point when the team falls apart genuinely sad.

I did enjoy Captain America – Civil War. It’s definitely worth seeing, and definitely worth seeing on the big screen. When it comes out on video, I’m sure it will join our collection. It is definitely a good film, but it is not a great one.

Release Date: May 06, 2016 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 65%


Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (social drinking, implied use of drugs in brainwashing)
Language: 2 (moderate cursing, no f-bombs (that I caught, anyway))
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 0 (one tasteful kiss that I don’t think counts as “sexuality”)
Violence: 3 (fighting, explosions, serious injury to main characters, deaths among secondary/tertiary characters)

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