Captain America: Civil War – A Review

Civil_War_Final_Poster

Surprise! I actually went to the movies. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the movie theater, especially by my standards; the last film that I reviewed was Deadpool back in February, which is kind of crazy as movie reviews tend to be my bread and butter. I don’t even have a broken ankle to blame for this prolonged absence; instead I’m going to blame the crappy quality of movies that studios generally dump during the late winter and early spring. There were a few movies that I did mean to get out and see, but for the most part, the selection has been wanting. I’m not getting off my couch for trash like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

A new Marvel movie, however, is a horse of a different color. I’m always game to go see them, especially when it is a Captain America-focused entry. I’ve enjoyed the Captain America films more than an of the other Avenger stand-alone films, as I think that the powers that be have the firmest grasp on his personality and outlook. They have also played with different genres in the Captain America movies, which makes them a little more interesting and complex. So I would have been excited for Captain America: Civil War even if it didn’t bring the promise of hero vs hero. My only real reservation was that I am solidly #teamThor, since I want to be wherever Chris Hemsworth is, but Thor (and The Hulk) are missing in action in Civil War. A minor quibble, but I was still a little bummed out that I wouldn’t get to see his beautiful face on the big screen.

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Captain America: Civil War explores the idea of the Avengers being held responsible for some of the mayhem and destruction that is often the side effect of them trying to save the day. After a mission goes sideways and civilians are killed, the countries of the world unite to request that the Avengers have some sort of oversight. Up until this point, the Avengers have been a private organization, but a new resolution would put them under the auspices of the UN. Failure to comply with these accords would make a superhero a criminal. Riddled by guilt from unleashing Ultron on the world, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr) supports the idea of this new world order. Wary of the dispatch of the Avengers being tainted by political decision makers (this guy knew Hitler after all), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is opposed – a position that he only digs in deeper on once Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is once again put in play. This creates a schism as the remaining Avengers line-up behind either Iron Man or Captain America, though the film doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining their various motivations. Since we are down two key players, Captain America: Civil War brings in some new faces – some are new to appearing in the Avengers franchise, while others are new in that we’ve never seen them depicted on the big screen before. These additions help breathe some new energy into the movie and mix things up a bit so that it isn’t just business as usual.

Captain America: Civil War is probably the most mature movie in the MCU-universe since at its focus is a philosophical debate that forces the heroes to think about the ramifications of their actions. Up until this point, there has been little consideration of the aftermath of the destruction that is often left in the wake of the Avengers getting involved. They show up, defeat the bad guy and leave, but in the process they also level a city and put countless lives in danger. Do the ends justify the means? Should there be some more systematic approach to unleashing their power? The Avengers obviously want to do good, but is that much power being exerted unilaterally and unchecked the right way to do things? On the other hand, should people with political agendas get to decide when and where the Avengers are deployed? Civil War does a good job of giving both sides of the argument and given the events of the last Avengers movie, it is clear why Iron Man, who would normally thumb his nose at authority, is more susceptible to the idea of their activates being more closely supervised. The film primarily focuses on Captain America and Iron Man as they are given the most screen time and emotional notes to play, but does allow time to give almost every character some sort of moment. With a cast this large, not everyone can be the star, but Civil War manages to mostly juggle all the balls that are put in play and gives the new characters a more than adequate introduction (both have standalone movies pending, which I am now looking forward to). The action sequences in the film are thrilling and the idea that it is hero vs hero does add a much needed change of pace to the usual “smashy-smashy-blow things up” formula of superhero movies in general. Seeing Iron Man pummel Captain America has different stakes because we like both these characters and it isn’t necessarily evident who is going to prevail. I like that ambiguity – all the characters are fighting for what they believe in and there isn’t a clear cut right or wrong side to be on.

Captain America: Civil War was an enjoyable film that accomplishes what it set out to do, which is lay the groundwork for Phase 3 of the MCU. That being said, there were definitely some moments that dragged and the film time could probably have been paired down a little (after previews and after the credits scenes, I was in the theater for 3 hours). And while Civil War is not as serious as Age of Ultron, the use of humor is uneven at best. I think we’ve left behind the fun glory days of the original Avengers film and while I appreciate the moments of levity in Civil War, they sometimes feel a little shoehorned in or forced. The comedy worked the best when coming from the more fringe or silly characters (Ant-Man or Spider-Man) but I could have used a few more chuckles. I hope that the Avengers movies don’t completely lose the fun that made the first movie so great.

Some random thoughts:

  • The guy sitting behind me brought either his mother or girlfriend (it was hard to tell) to see Civil War and she proceeded to ask (loudly) not only what was going on throughout the entire film but also who the various characters were. Like, she didn’t even recognize Spider-Man! If you haven’t seen any of the other Avengers-connected movies, you probably shouldn’t jump in with Civil War. You don’t have to be a Marvel devotee, but there is a lot in this movie that only makes sense if you have seen the other films. I have no idea what that lady got out of Civil War, if anything, other than just annoying everyone else in our section.
  • There are two post-credit scenes – I didn’t think either were particularly mind-blowing, but they do tease future movies.
  • I don’t think I love anything more than the decision to lean into the “Dad Hawkeye” (Jeremy Renner) angle. I have always been a Renner apologist, but this new wrinkle to his character constantly makes me smile.
  • As usual, I didn’t spring for IMAX or 3-D.

I really liked Captain America: Civil War as it managed to explore some more complex ideas in a way that didn’t bog down the story. The film has a lot to accomplish and is able to do so in an entertaining and fun manner. There’s a lot of moving parts and characters to service in Civil War and while Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky are the primary focus, the secondary characters are mostly incorporated well into the story. Not only has Civil War made me look forward to MCU phase 3, but also the standalone movies for the new characters. Captain America: Civil War isn’t my favorite of the franchise, but it was still a very enjoyable film. A lot is asked of Civil War and the movie more than delivers.

Captain America: Civil War is currently in wide release.

 

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Breaking Bad Edition

I normally have a lot of Breaking Bad info in these pop culture roundups, but with the show recently returning for its final eight episodes ever (SOB!), there was more awesome info than normal this week. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so sprinkled throughout the roundup is an abundance of links related to the show. And for the love of all that is holy, if you aren’t watching this show get to steppin’. You are missing out! So kick back and bring yourself up to speed on all the pop culture that you may have missed over the last two weeks. Let me be your pop culture curator.

  • N’Sync is rumored to be reuniting at the MTV VMAs on Sunday, which now forces me to watch the VMAs. I’m skeptical as I’m not sure what Timberlake gets out of this. But I do hope it happens.

 

  • Jimmy Fallon is doing a Breaking Bad parody. This will be amazing.

 

  • It’s hard to get excited about football season when you root for the Bills, but I do love when the Manning brothers do commercials:

 

  • This is an interesting casting rumor (emphasis on rumor) – could Charlie Hunnam play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaption? By the time this movie comes out, will anyone still care?
  • Friday Night Lights, the movie? Make it happen!
  • HBO has released a trailer for the new season of Girls:

 

  • NBC is clearly in the Jonathan Banks (Mike, Breaking Bad) business. After a guest appearance on Parks and Recreation, the actor will be a regular on Community.

A quick break for the depressing stuff:

  • Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Topher Grace’s older sister Laurie on That 70s Show, died. She was 43.

OK – back to the more lighthearted links.

  • Blog fave Dean Winters (Dennis the beeper king on 30 Rock) is headed to the new Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Oprah gives away cars when she is just a guest on a show. Mental note – get in the audience when Oprah is on a talk show.
  • A trailer for the new season of Homeland:

 

  • Jay Leno’s last night on The Tonight Show will be February 6th. Believe it when you see it, Jimmy.
  • Mark your calendars: the third installment of Adam Scott’s The Greatest Event in Television History drops on November 7th. Nothing is confirmed, but speculation is that they are doing the opening credits from Too Close for Comfort.
  • Ha! Billy Ray Cyrus does look like fat Mac:

 

photo from Uproxx

photo from Uproxx

  • Whoa – it’s Walter, Jr. from Breaking Bad:

 

Photo from Uproxx

Photo from Uproxx

 

  • A tweet from Sons of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter makes me very nervous.
  • The chicken fight from Family Guy was never one of my favorites, but kudos to these two stunt women for the live action re-enactment:

 

  • This new trailer for season 3 of Revenge has piqued my interest:

 

  • The new channel FXX, which will show new episodes of The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, launches September. Use this handy website to find out if FXX is available on your cable system (Phew- it is for me!). The network is off to a promising start with a Parks and Recreation marathon.
  • This slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is pretty cool:

 

  • The house from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is for sale.
  • This Avril Lavigne music video is a little nuts:

 

  • The White House Twitter account made a Mean Girls reference:

White House Twitter_Mean Girls

  • My birthday is a month from today and I would sure like it if someone bought me this Breaking Bad Lego set.
  • Another pop culture roundup, another American Horror Story: Coven teaser:

 

  • I’m surprised it took so long; watch a guy crowd surfs in order to “Come on Down” On The Price is Right:

 

  • Benedict Cumberbatch had a message for the papzrazzi trying to get spoilers on Sherlock:

 

Getty Image

Getty Image

  • In this trailer for Fading Gigolo, watch Woody Allen act as a pimp for John Turturro. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

 

  • I’ve always like Donal Logue, so I’m not surprised he helped a stranger propose. P.S. Terriers is now streaming on Netflix – do yourself a favor and watch this late great series.
  • J.J. Abrams released a mysterious trailer on Monday.

Turns out it was for a book.

  • Listen to the Breaking Bad theme played on meth lab equipment:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Mean Girls mashed up with Book of Mormon

 

  • Here are some super cuts of movie clichés. First up “You just don’t get it, do you?”

 

  • Phone numbers that start with 555:

 

  • Superheroes introducing themselves:

 

  • Vulture put together a supercut of all of John Oliver’s explanations for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show absence.
  • Nerdist put together a Breaking Bad/Saved by the Bell mashup:

Dustin Diamond was available? I’m shocked.

  • Behind Elysium (A Behind the Candelabra/Elysium mashup)

 

  • The opening of Adventure Time done in Legos:

 

 

Another installment of a Seinfeld/Game of Thrones mashup:

 

  • Ha! Thor meets Arrested Development in Thorested Development:

 

  • Breaking Bad recut as a romantic comedy:

 

  • President Obama “sings” Demi Lavato:

 

  • Listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the style of other divas:

 

  • We Are Never Ever Gonna Cook Together (Taylor Swift/Breaking Bad parody)

 

  • And finally – Walter White “sings” “My Way”

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Poor Time Management Edition

My head must have been in the clouds because I almost forgot that was a pop culture roundup week. That isn’t a problem in and of itself, but failing to remember means that I didn’t get a head start on putting this together. I had planned to get a lot of this done Monday night, as I was at a show last night, but then I started looking for breakup songs and I was down the YouTube rabbit hole. Next thing I knew it was 11:30 and I never got to the roundup. So I’m doing a rush job on it this week (mostly on my lunch breaks), so forgive me if I don’t cast as wide a net as usual. I love doing this post, but it is ridiculously time consuming.

Now that I’ve lowered your expectations, on to your biweekly culmination all things pop:

  • I gave you the skinny over the weekend on what shows have been cancelled and what shows are returning (which I have updated). Now several of the networks have released their fall schedules (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX). I’m already working on a grid to see how many conflicts I have.
  • In addition, trailers have been released for many of the new shows:

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)

Dracula (NBC)

Sean Saves the World (NBC)

The Blacklist (NBC)

Welcome to the Family (NBC)

Ironside (NBC)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC)

Betrayal (ABC)

Killer Woman (ABC)

Lucky 7 (ABC)

Mind Games (ABC)

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)

Resurrection (ABC)

Back in the Game (ABC)

The Goldbergs (ABC)

Mixology (ABC)

Super Fun Night (ABC)

Trophy Wife (ABC)

The Bridge (FX) – debuting in July

  • No more Stefon – Bill Hader is leaving SNL. His last episode will be this Saturday.
  • I seriously considered taking a day off for this: The Bluth Banana stand from Arrested Development was in NYC earlier this week. Track where it is headed next on Twitter.
  • This website maps every recurring joke on Arrested Development. There goes my afternoon.
  • As a Mad Men fan, I really enjoyed this collection of fun facts, theories, callbacks and Easter Eggs on the show.
  • Christina Aguilera appears to be poised to return to The Voice. It was nice knowing you, Shakira.
  • These “Ryan Gosling won’t eat cereal” vines are absurd, yet hilarious:

 

  • Taco Bell is unveiling a waffle taco. You know I’m trying this.
  • Danity Kane may be reuniting (note to author – calling this group beloved might be overselling it)
  • I wrote previously about the awesomeness that was the Jon Hamm/Adam Scott collaboration The Greatest Event in Television History. This year Scott will be teaming up with his Parks and Recreation co-star Amy Poehler for a special airing June 6th. The identity of the project has been revealed.
  • The boy band The Wanted is getting a reality show. I admit I will probably watch this. I saw them perform last year at the Mixtape Festival and they were a lot of fun.
  • Casino Royale opening done in LEGOs:

 

  • Angela Bassett and Patti LuPone have joined the cast of American Horror Story: Coven. This season is shaping up to be pretty fantastic.
  • Mashable has some eerie photos from the abandoned Star Wars sets in Tunisia.
  • At this point, I’ll only be surprised to see who isn’t in Anchorman 2.
  • This article from Business Insider claims that compared to actual ads in the 1960s, the work of Don Draper’s ad agency is pretty terrible.
  • This makes me sad – Harper Lee is suing her agent for cheating her out of the copyright of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Here’s an interesting fact – Tupac’s Godmother was the first woman ever added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List.
  • Metallica frontman James Hetfield’s former mansion is for sale.
  • Broadway star James Corden will play the Baker in the film adaption of Into the Woods. Johnny Depp will be the Wolf and Meryl Streep will be the Witch. Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal are also in talks to join the cast.
  • A bad lip reading of The Walking Dead:

 

  • Whoa – Jay-Z and this guy from 1933 are almost identical.

jay-z

The only logical explanation is that Jay-Z is immortal.

  • A new Toy Story short will air on ABC at Halloween. I hope they bring back my pal T-Bone!
  • Sometimes Twitter is just fantastic – someone has created a parody account for 80’s Don Draper.
  • Andy Samberg and his pals in The Lonely Island introduce Wack Wednesdays:

 

  • Game of Thrones producers wrote an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (for real).
  • A poster has been released for Catching Fire, the next film in The Hunger Games trilogy.

Catching fire

  • Mariah Carey has released a new single, featuring Miguel:

 

  • A murderer in Canada based his crime on Showtime’s Dexter. And they say that
  • Joe Dirt 2 is a real thing. Was there a clamoring for this?
  • More Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee episodes will debut this summer – Jerry will actually talk to a girl!
  • The Iron Man trilogy remix:

 

  • Just in time for my birthday – Justin Timberlake will release The 20/20 Experience, Volume 2 in September.

As always, we wrap up with the mashups and supercuts:

  • Enjoy this Pop Punk Mashup:

 

  • These guys play parts of 17 Taylor Swift songs in 60 seconds.

 

  • A supercut of some of the best “NOOOOOOOOOO!” in cinematic history:

 

  • Someone else thought that The Great Catsby was a good idea – a mashup of The Great Gatsby soundtrack/dialogue and The Aristocats:

 

  • Disney movies are all sugar and spice – a supercut of Disney violence:

 

And finally – an Iron Man/”Suit and Tie” parody mashup: