CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, and others. Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Rated M (Action violence). 147 min.
This American sci-fi, action-adventure film has the Avengers team under pressure. Forces are pushing it to be more accountable. The film is a sequel to "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", and is the third Captain America movie and the 13th. film in the Marvel Superhero series.
After an unfortunate Avenger-incident led to the death of blameless civilians, an Act regulating all Superhuman activities, and signed by 117 countries, is introduced that aims to control the Avengers team by making them answerable to the UN.
One side, led by superhero, Steve Rogers, alias Captain America (Chris Evans), wants to stay away from any regulation, so that humanity can be defended properly. The other side is led by superhero, billionaire playboy, Tony Stark, alias Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), who prefers accountability. The question to answer is: "Are political agendas and some form of control necessary for the provision of help, or should help be given by considering "need" first and foremost above all else?" The issues around this question divide members of The Avengers team, and they take sides. Concern about accountability these days is a recurrent theme in the superhero world. It featured in "Batman vs. Superman" (2016).
One of the special features of this film is that a veritable army of Marvel superheroes line up on both sides of the debate, and the scenes surrounding their conflict look amazingly real and intense. The film features Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Black Panther, Spider Man, Ant Man, Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye, Vision, Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), and Scarlet Witch, and others - only Thor and Hulk seem to be absent from it all. With everybody taking a position and fighting each other, the movie is filled to the brim with action.
In the ensuing conflict, both plot and script focus on significant moral issues: What constitutes true loyalty and friendship, what are the limits of freedom vs. responsibility, and what curbs are needed for indefensible aggression? With so much going on, and so many superheroes involved, it is difficult to guess where the Marvel franchise will now go. What terrible catastrophe, or horrendous piece of villainy can possibly get the superheroes working harmoniously together again? In this movie there is a nasty Eastern villain, providing the necessary evil, but it is the conflict among the superheroes that plays centre stage. The fight among all of the superheroes, half way through the movie, is visually amazing and scripted wittily.
The original purpose of the superhero series was to show ethical and noble display of courage and sacrifice. That has morphed in this film into finding new and exciting ways to show incredible action scenarios that absorb individual characters' moral motivation. Instead of focusing on victory over awful people in the outside world, the film moves inward on itself to explore conflict among superheroes themselves, who now fight with each other.
In pursuit of these goals, the film's special effects team pulls the stops out. The story is basically about personal relationships, and the movie uses vivid action scenarios, excellently choreographed. It is a giant action movie that pits noble, and not so noble, factions against each other. This is basically an escapist movie full of inventive action sequences, and it entertains additionally by throwing edifying thoughts into the mix.
The high level of entertainment level that the film provides effortlessly, has some astounding visual effects, but "Where to from here?", is a question that lingers in one's mind as the final credits roll.
Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Released April 28th., 2016