Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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Captain America: Civil War  (Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo | Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie) MARVEL STUDIOS

When I was a kid, I was pretty much consumed by three things. Star Wars, WWF (now WWE) wrestling, and Marvel Comics. Besides my love for Batman, I was deep into Marvel. I would give anything a read, but for the most part I gravitated toward The X-Men and Spider-Man. This was awesome when Hollywood rolled out the red carpet for comic book movies back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as Spidey and the X-men were the premier stories to be told on the big screen. The only thing that sucked was the fact that the rights to different Marvel franchises were scattered all over the major motion picture studios. I think each company had a piece; Sony had Spider-man, Fox took the X-men and Fantastic Four and Universal had the Incredible Hulk. You get the picture. All of this meant that we would probably never see any crossover of our favorite heroes. Marvel wised up and decided it was their best interest to start their own motion picture company in 2005. Disney then subsequently purchased them in 2009. Essentially, Disney owns pretty much every right except X-Men and all characters mutant-related (unfortunately that includes my personal favorite, Deadpool), and of course Spider-Man, and his cast of characters. But here is the good news. Marvel Studios now has a working relationship with Sony. This means Peter Parker, Aunt May, Green Goblin, and the whole gang will now appear in Marvel Studios productions, and vice versa. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I hope it makes sense, and IT IS important to my review on Captain America: Civil War because, you guessed it…our sneak peek at Spider-Man in his first appearance in a Marvel Studios movie. And to me, and I’m sure any Marvel purist, is an amazing (no pun intended) event.

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It’s good to see you again, Web-Head!

 The Avengers are heroes. They have time, and time again, saved Earth from all sorts of threats. There is only one problem. When they go into battle, they usually end up leveling a city and the result is loss of civilian life. After a recovery mission in Wakanda (fictional African country) goes south, and an incident occurs, several nations from around the world want the Avengers to be held accountable. The United Nations has demanded that all “enhanced humans” sign an accord to hold up their accountability. This causes a split right down the middle of the Avengers, with Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Captain America at odds with each other due to each of them having strong opposite beliefs. All hell breaks loose. This is all I can really say without giving story lines away. As far as comic book movies go, Captain America: Civil War is now at the top of the food chain. When I was a kid, I dreamed of things like this. This film is jam packed with so many elements and characters, that the one hundred and fifty minutes whipped right by. Usually with a giant ensemble cast, you loose some characters along the way. That is not the case. The film keeps gaining characters, and snowballs into a cinematic juggernaut. The special effects and battle sequences are seamless. Often I get lost in CGI and end up resenting it because of the distraction, but it just becomes part of the story in Civil War. The main battle sequence between the two feuding factions is dynamic and fluid, and I was fully engaged.

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Former friends turned bitter enemies?

 Captain America: Civil War also kicks off Phase 3 of the Marvel cinematic universe, which means we are exposed to new characters, and get to see a little more of a couple surprise favorites. Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man, and is nothing short of clever and charming, as he was in his own film last year. T’Challa, the Prince of Wakanda is fierce and believable as Black Panther. The actor portraying Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, is going to make a nice addition to the ongoing story. Last, but not least, we get our first glimpse at the new, and drastically improved Spider-Man. The other films starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield had their moments, but there was always something missing. Peter Parker is a kid, and the other Spidey movies lacked Peter’s boyish wonder and charm. Tom Holland now gets a turn at bat to play Peter Parker, and if his performance in Civil War is a glimpse into Spider-Man’s future, he is going to smack a home run. It will be fun to see how Sony and Disney work together to create a brand new world for the wall crawler. Although the Civil War has been tagged under the Captain America franchise, this was much more. All of the Avengers, old and new, are important pieces to the story. Only Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Thor are AWOL, but there is a good reason, which will be explained in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. We also get to see a lot more of Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Vision (Paul Bettany), and the stunning Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olson). It is quite a stellar cast, lead by Chris Evans (Captain America) and Robert Downey Jr. (the always dashing Tony Stark/Iron Man). It is actually quite impressive that Marvel Studios has amassed a roster of actors this deep and talented on an ongoing basis. The directing team of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo are given the task to put together this enormous puzzle, and the do an amazing job. They were also in charge of Captain American: Winter Soldier, which to me right up on top of my favorites list. The Russo’s are given many more moving parts with this sequel, and make an even better film. Because they are also in charge of the next two Avengers films, expect nothing less than pure enjoyment.

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A fine addition to the Marvel cinematic universe; Black Panther.

As I read this back to myself, I sound like a fan boy. I forgive myself, because that is exactly what I am. I remember being ten years old and reading Marvel’s Secret Wars. It was a limited issue mini series that basically put most of the Marvel heroes and villains on a planet by a being called the Beyonder. The Beyonder essentially wanted to see the two sides fight it out. Captain America Civil War is not Secret Wars, but it is a gigantic step towards amalgamating these characters into one universe. Now wouldn’t it be something if Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel/Disney could work something out so maybe one day we could see a big screen Secret Wars. The X-Men and Marvel’s Avengers sharing the same universe? Maybe that’s just wishful thinking from lifelong fan boy, but hey, crazier things have happened. The closest thing we have right now is Captain America: Civil War. Don’t walk, but run (or fly if you are an “enhanced human”) to the cinema. You will not be disappointed.

T.

Marvel’s Ant-Man

Typically, I would use this space to share my opinion on the darker side of cinema, but today I figured I would briefly touch on something different. Tonight I went to the cinema to watch Marvel’s Ant-Man (directed by Peyton Reed, written by Edgar Wright and starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas). When I first heard that Marvel was going to do a live action adaptation of Ant-Man, I was fairly surprised. Out of all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, why choose a character that is relatively obscure to the general public. Then I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and my expectations went up. Unless you are a fan and reader of comic books, you probably had no idea who Star-Lord and Groot where. Unless I’m wrong, this was Marvel and Disney‘s first attempt at taking a B title and giving it the big screen treatment. Guardians was an amazing movie, and has made this rag-tag group of adventurers a house hold name. I have to give Disney and Marvel all the credit in the world. They know how to do it right.

Scott Lang (Rudd) is a down on his luck ex-con who can’t seem to catch a break.  All he wants his to make his young daughter proud. Before he knows it, he becomes involved in a struggle between the science company Pym Tech, and their founder, the now retired Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).  Dr. Pym recruits Lang ( a master burglar) to retrieve a weapon that has been developed by the corrupt head of Pym Tech, Dr. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Cross has plans to sell the technology to an infamous terrorist organization. With the help of Pam and others, Scott Lang becomes the Ant-Man.

I will keep this short and sweet. Marvel’s Ant-Man is full of pleasant surprises. There is a perfect balance between action and comedy relief. Paul Rudd has his trademark dry sarcasm, but the best comedic performance comes from his best friend Luis, played by Michael Peña. I really hope his character returns. The fact that Ant-Man can shrink adds a whole other world for the action to take place in. The use of actual ants throughout the film is pretty cool as well. Unlike a lot of other superhero movies, the action is not distracting and does not take over the film at all. Also, please stay until after the end credits role, as in typical Marvel fashion, there are a couple “hidden scenes”.  All in all, Marvel’s Ant-Man ranks up amongst my favourites with Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. I can only hope that the next Marvel adaptation to be released, Deadpool (Feb 2016), is as clever and fun to watch as Ant-Man.

I highly enjoyed Marvel’s Ant-Man. Go see this film if you like fun movies, but that is just my opinion.

T.