Captain America: Civil War REVIEW

When news got out that Civil War got greenlit due to Batman Vs Superman, a film that was as dull as it was messy, it wasn’t a surprise that many grew worried about the reality of this massive clash of clans. Not only is the film a sequel to the Marvel magnum opus Winter Soldier but it’s also a successor to the rather disappointing Age Of Ultron.

In addition to this, there’s also the film’s duty to introduce new characters as well as set things up for future installments in the MCU and somehow, whether it’s due to some infinity gem or the Russo brothers natural talent, Civil War manages to do all of this and more, managing to be just as enthralling as its predecessors and then some.

Having the Avengers fight amongst themselves isn’t anything new but it’s never been on this kind of scale. With The Avengers now being seen as dangerous whilst ungoverned, due to events in previous films as well as those in Civil War, the team is now split into two: Team Cap which feels that the Avengers should stay independent and Team Iron Man who supports the government oversight.

The story, for what it’s trying to achieve, isn’t overly complex and has a surprisingly good flow despite the 2hr 27 min run time, managing to establish the motivations of both teams superbly. Often you’ll find your allegiance fluctuating, despite tweeting how you were #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan religiously beforehand, making the film just as engaging as you’d have expected.

Civil War 1

Thankfully there’s no MacGuffin, an issue that I covered in my rant on the MCU, though the “villain” isn’t much of an improvement. While he has some well established motivation rather than just being evil, unlike Lex Luthor in BVS, it feels like the character of Zemo, one with a very interesting backstory, could have been best kept for a future installment due to his minimal involvement in the film.

Civil War is also full of emotion due to the conflict ignited by Bucky Barnes whose past is the catalyst for a lot of action which this film does perfectly. The big clash at an Airport Terminal is undoubtedly the best set piece ever conceived in the MCU which I refuse to spoil due to some pretty surprising elements. Just make sure to pick your jaw up from off the floor afterwards.

Civil War 2

The highlight of the film for me were the introduction of two major characters, the first being Black Panther. Having never made a big screen appearance before, he didn’t disappoint on his debut and left the audience desperate for his big solo venture in 2018. No doubt we’ll get some more info about his origins which may or may not differ from the comics but regardless, the Prince of Wakanda looked badass as fuck.

Then there’s the elephant or, rather, Spider in the room. Yes, the web slinger makes his MCU debut and oh my god. Never before has there been such a faithful adaptation of Spiderman before now as Tom Holland manages to manifest the awkward, teen charisma for his time as Peter Parker but then hits out with his quick witted jibes that had the whole cinema laughing out loud.

Civil War 2

Surprisingly he has a lot more screen time than I expected and may have even had more lines of dialogue than Superman in BVS! Marvel may have messed with beloved characters before but this iteration of Spiderman more than makes up for that.

While the film isn’t perfect by any means, the first half feels a bit sluggish from time to time, Civil War goes some way in combating the fatigue many face when it comes to superhero films. What we have here is a film that asks questions but doesn’t forget what should be the main focus of these films: having fun.

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THOUGHTS ON: Batman VS Superman

I should have known it was too good to be true: a film where Batman and Superman brawl, right there on the big screen. It’s not like we haven’t witnessed it before, countless comic issues as well as The Dark Knight Returns were every DC fan’s wet dream, but this was gonna be a big budget, live action adaption.

We can all admit that we were excited for it. Even if you were suffering from superhero fatigue at the time, as soon as that trailer dropped you knew you had to see it. God Versus Man. Day VS Night. The Son Of Krypton vs The Bat Of Gotham. It was shaping up to be the must see film of the year, arguably the decade.

So why do I feel so disappointed?


A big

SPOILER ALERT

is needed as there’s no way I can talk about this film’s flaws without going into some detail. Oh, not that I should have to mention this but this is my opinion so if you liked the film, hell, even if you loved the film, that’s fine. I’m glad you had fun with it as the numb feeling I endured when walking out of the cinema is not something that should be envied.

Where better to start than addressing the title itself as, after all, the main reason you probably went to see this film was to see The Dark Knight take on the Man of Steel. The fight itself wasn’t actually horrible, both characters putting in an equal amount of punches though Batman undoubtedly was the victor. Or would be anyway if it weren’t for the stupid fucking reason they stop fighting.

The reason they start fighting isn’t exactly well thought out either. What should be a battle fueled by their conflicting ideologies, which isn’t so much hinted but flat out stated during the movie, is instead down to Superman having to so he can save his mother. This will be totally subjective as will everything else I list but really? It’s 2016 and we’re still using “x’s y is captured by z” as a motive to move things forward, possibly the biggest cliche in the superhero book.

Back on track however, one word will stick in your mind and possibly in any cinema staff having to stand outside the screen due to the loudness: Martha. Believe me when I say this that Batman and Superman stop fighting because their mum’s have the same name. You can try and excuse this by saying “Bruce lost his mother so he doesn’t want Clark to go through that” and I’d say good point and also how are you talking to me when I’m the one writing this?

I’d also say that Batman, with his view that Superman needs to be destroyed as he is too dangerous, wouldn’t do this. Batman straight up murders people and there’s no way to deny it as at one point he chucks a grenade into a small room with two people as well as setting a guy on fire. While I’m not overly bothered about him going against his usual moral code, it seems odd that a guy who so unempathetically murders crooks who no doubt have families of their own somehow turns a new leaf as soon as Superman mentions his mum. Not only that but they act like best buds after this revelation despite the fact Batman was about to stab Superman into something that would titled a kryptonian kebab just a few seconds ago.

Let’s change focus now and have a look at the man who set, and I use that word very lightly, this fight up: Lex Luthor. Played by Jesse Eisenberg, every moment he was on screen I was either laughing at how ridiculously over the top and absurd his performance was or cringing at the constant metaphors and quotes he was making. Those who argue that there’s no humour in BVS will tell you that Luthor gives a few good laughs and they’d be right. Unfortunately though, and bare with me because my Superman knowledge ain’t the best, this is supposed to be YOUR MAIN VILLAIN WHO IS INTIMIDATING AND A GENIUS, NOT SOME INDIE PRICK WEARING A BANKSY TOP WITH A LOT OF MONEY. Luthor didn’t feel like a cunning character and had little motive for Superman to go away as he seemed to benefit greatly from the aftermath of Man Of Steel. If he really wanted him dead, surely he would do the smart thing and just shoot him with a kryptonite missile or something?

I feel like a large amount of my gripes with BVS comes from the clunky script. We all knew that DC were lagging behind Marvel in terms of a cinematic universe but oh christ was it blatantly obvious and poorly executed. Slate Marvel films all you want but they’ve at least gradually churned these films out. DC on the other hand incorporated the other members of the justice league in the most lazy way imaginable by having Batman email Wonder Woman.Yup, you read that right: EMAIL.

Even if you ignore this, the flow of this film just feels so rough, full of subplots that just feel messy and not well thought out whatsoever. Lois Lane suffers from Amazing Spiderman syndrome here, having some sort of independence and, dare I say it, character before having it stripped away and becoming a damsel in distress who needs saved not once, not twice but THREE TIMES. The dream sequences also felt unnecessary, either telling us an origin story that’s been told countless times before or just existing so they can tease at a future villain.

I couldn’t write a spoiler review without touching upon the big shocker that was Superman’s death. This I can blame partly on the trailer that revealed Doomsday who previously has savagely murdered Kal El so as soon as I was aware he’d make an appearance, I knew this was coming. I suppose you could say I would have been like this regardless if the trailer showed me but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. DC would never be ballsy enough to kill Superman permanently and so, the very last shot is off the dirt as his grave slowly rising. So close DC, you were so close to doing one ballsy thing.

I wanted to like this film so badly. Despite all of the negative reviews I had read, I still wanted to see it and enjoy it so for fans to dismiss criticism as critics being “marvel fanboys” is absurd. The film isn’t the worst thing ever. Ben Affleck gives an amazing performance, there’s the expected spectacular Snyder visuals and the action that I mentioned was a joy to behold. I have my hopes that future films, such as The Flash, will be an improvement and that DC will learn their lesson. Unfortunately though, as it stands, the gif down below sums up perfectly how I felt about Batman Vs Superman.

None animated GIF

4/10

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Thoughts On: Marvel Cinematic Universe

A new cinema powerhouse is fated to face the same demise as any empire: how can they stop it?

It was only a matter of time. When I was watching the latest Civil War trailer, I was happy with what I saw, everything that was happening confirming my excitement for the film’s release at the end of April: Iron Man and Captain America fighting? Check. Black Panther being added to the roster? Check. An inevitable divide within the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Check.

However, it wasn’t until the final seconds of the trailer that excitement levels for me went through the roof, leaving me in a similar state that I was left in back when the very first film for Marvel’s favourite web-slinger came out. I’m of course talking about Spiderman finally getting his big screen reveal.

“HOLY FUCKING SHIT” was my immediate response and the reaction I gave after watching the trailer repeatedly was pretty much identical. Finally we have Spiderman in the MCU, donning a suit that is beautiful fan service to anyone aware of the original style of Spidey’s look in the 60’s animated series as well as his original look in the comics.

However, the more and more tweets I saw about Spiderman, claiming that his look was awful and that he sounded too young, I started to realise how askewed some fans priorities are. Exile me if you want but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far from perfect and the empire that it has become won’t collapse because of how cheap Spiderman’s costume looks: it’ll be our resistance to criticising these films.

Before I start listing all the issues I have, it’s important to point out that I do enjoy superhero film and Marvel’s are no different. Guardians Of The Galaxy was hilarious and engaging with a soundtrack that is undeniably perfect for the film and Captain America: Winter Soldier is one of the few films from the MCU that I could recommend to anyone, even those who detest superhero films.

However, if we want to see these films improve then we must realise that they’re not perfect. Nothing is and to live by the opinion that something is perfect sets up the very thing you love to become the very opposite of it and my biggest gripe with the MCU has to be the villains.

A problem that has been ever present in these films since Day 1, villains are seen as a total afterthought in the grand scheme of things. Ask someone to name a nemesis from a MCU film that isn’t Loki and they’ll be struggling, not because of their own bad memory but because of how poorly developed these villains are.

What makes this even more bittersweet is the fact that these villains are played by wonderful actors. Mickey Rourke, Guy Pearce, Tom Hiddleston, it’s a total injustice that Marvel and Disney waste the potential they have. Marvel can make great screen adaptations of villains as shown by Spiderman 2 and Daredevil which has not only irritated myself and many others but even George R.R Martin, author of a little fantasy series you may know that started off with Game Of Thrones, threw his hat into the ring:

“I am tired of this Marvel movie trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man. Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting.”

How good your villain and hero are is irrelevant however when the plot itself is severely lacking and this is another pitfall that Marvel have yet to address properly.

If you don’t know what a Macguffin then it’s time for a little lesson. A Macguffin is defined as being “a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation”. A Macguffin goes by many names in the MCU, most typically the Tesseract or an infinity gem, and it has resulted in the predictable, formulaic stories we see more in these type of movies.

“Superhero x fights supervillain y to get object z to save the planet/universe” could sum a vast majority of Marvel films and while there has been some tweaks to the formula, Ant Man managed to make it more of a heist film than all out battle, that feeling of Deja Vu never seems to go away.

Speaking of Deja Vu, it seems like oversaturation is a word Disney and Marvel can’t seem to find in their dictionary. Although not all of these films are theirs, the amount of superhero films present no doubt spawns from their actions. Ten Marvel, eleven DC as well as other Fox owned properties are set to be released in the next four years alone with many others still to be announced.

All of this wouldn’t be a problem if directors were allowed to make the film they wished to but the fact of the matter is that isn’t the case. Edgar Wright, director of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, left halfway through Ant Man due to creative differences, no doubt down to how every Marvel film intertwines, something that is undoubtedly cool as it makes the movies feel like they’re important in the grand scheme of things.

2016-03-13 (1)

I’m not alone in what I’ve said and I’m not trying to take some hipster approach as I’ve said before that I thoroughly enjoy superhero films but I am aware of their faults. While there is leeway for things like scientific inaccuracies in a world where a man can turn into a huge, green monster, there is no excuse for poor villains, plot and planning.

It’s not too late for Marvel to deal with these problems as all they have to do is focus more on what the director feels is right rather than the producers who seem more concerned on quantity rather than quality. Phase 3 of the MCU is set to kick off with Civil War and it has been teased that this will change the future of these films.

I can only pray that this is the case.

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Ant Man Review

Have you noticed the running trend of superhero movies facing massive production problems? If you catched my Deadpool trailer reaction post you’ll remember that it’s been in production for close to a decade and the journey for Ant Man has not been any smoother. Ant Man started development all the way back in 2006 with Edgar Wright, better known as the guy who created Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead (better known as those two films that are always on ITV2), taking helm of the project. He was the perfect choice as director but as script drafts were completed and test footage was taken, creative differences with Marvel resulted in Wright leaving and Peyton Reed replacing him. It’s been established since his departure that Wright’s decision to leave was due to the film having to tie in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe which no doubt limited what he was able to do.

Fans of the big (well not so big) superhero were left wondering if the film they’ve been anticipating for years was going to be any good. The fact that Wright, who had great success adapting the Scott Pilgrim vs The World books, left had some wondering if anyone would be able to do it, let alone the guy who directed Yes Man. You can’t really blame them either as to the average person, Ant Man is a guy who can turn really small and that’s about it. The trailer that was released a few months before the films release in July managed to calm some down but it was cliched (insert main villain talking sinisterly in the background and a pan shot of the city skyline) leaving some to think this would be Marvel’s first big flop (if you don’t include any of the Thor films or Iron Man 2).

They were wrong.

Marvel's Ant-Man Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) amongst his ants. Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2015

So who is Ant Man? In this film he’s Scott Lang, an ex con who was jailed for burglary and is trying to become a better person so that he can see his daughter. However he realises that the outside world doesn’t treat ex cons so nicely and he soons goes back to his old ways which leads him to Hank Pym who is *surprise* the first Ant Man. Pym is a scientist who created the shrinking technology which allows ant man to shrink down to the size of….well…an ant. However after resigning from S.H.I.E.L.D over 3 decades ago ago and being forced out by his own company by Cross, who is close to replicating Pym’s technology and renaming it the yellow suit, Pym chooses Lang to take on the role of Ant Man to stop Cross at all costs.  “My days of breaking into places and stealing stuff are over. What do you want me to do?” “I want you to break into a place and steal some stuff.”

What ensues is a heist film which is a welcome change to the “fight the big baddy” plot that most marvel films follow. The humour in Ant Man is consistently on point though what else do you expect from a screenplay that was penned by Edgar Wright. Some of the funniest moments come from Michael Pena’s character Luis whose constant ramblings about “so this guy told my cousin” stories never failed to make me or the rest of the audience laugh out loud. At the start I thought he’d be a bit of a mistreated character and used only to progress the plot but he plays the comic relief role perfectly with every word he says being comedy gold, I’d be devastated if we didn’t see him when the inevitable Ant Man 2 comes along.

Main star Paul Rudd also deserves praise for his role as Scott Lang. The actor is best known for comedic roles like in Knocked Up and Clueless and this definitely helps in delivering quips throughout the movie but he handles the sentimental moments perfectly, very similar to Chris Pratt’s Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s no surprise that Rudd’s performance reminded me of Pratt as GOTG was also a film that was hyped up by many as being Marvel’s first flop before it’s release. It was absurd, it was crazy and it was bloody hilarious and proved all doubters wrong, surprising everyone and was undoubtedly one of the best films of 2014.

Michael Douglas was also fantastic as Hank Pym as was Evangeline Lilly as his daughter hope and I couldn’t flaw their chemistry as even though the whole “daughter hates her dad” cliche has been overplayed, it works well in the context of the story and explaining why Hank is no longer Ant Man. Even some of the less important characters such as Luis’ buddies Dave and Kurt, played by rapper T.I and David Dastmalchian respectively, were great additions to the cast and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a few chuckles from them.

Although it may have had a rocky production and the first 30 minutes of the film feel kind of slow and sluggish, the rest of the film more than makes up for it. I’ve seen the film twice already and wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again and it’s easily the best Marvel film I’ve seen all year (sorry Age of Ultron). If you haven’t seen it already then you should change that because Ant Man is in for the running for my favourite film of 2015.

So what are your thoughts on Antman? Loved it? Hated it? What was your favourite moment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below since I’d love to see what you thought of it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.