‘Captain America: Civil War’
Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo
Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr.
2 (out of 5) Globes
There’s some good stuff in “Captain America: Civil War.” That’s what these Marvel things are now: a lot of stuff. Some of the stuff is enjoyable, some of it’s rousing; some of it’s thumb-twiddling, some of it causes migraines. Almost all of it, good or bad or indifferent, is now there simply to keep the perpetual Marvel Cinematic Universe machine moving. The franchise is now Too Big to Fail. There are too many moving parts, too many sequels and spin-offs to set up, to create something like the relatively stripped-down pleasures of the first “Iron Man.” At best they’re an out-of-control monster its many makers can barely control; at worst they’re arrogant, assuming viewers will always show up in droves, no matter how listless or chaotic the entries.
But like we said, the third “Captain America” has some good stuff, if not as much good stuff as outliers like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man.” Where the second “Avengers” was a Michael Bay-style mess of crap comin’ at ya, “Civil War” has a fairly clean emotional undertow. Where both “Avengers” recklessly destroyed cities for our enjoyment, this one — just like the loathed “Batman v Superman,” as it were — focuses on the aftermath and the hundreds, maybe thousands of civilian deaths. There are, once again, too many characters, but they don’t clog the screen at the same time all the time. The story mostly zeroes in on Cap/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who not so politely disagree on a key point: that the do-gooder Avengers need to be regulated, lest they destroy yet another village in order to save it.
But “Civil War” also has some bad stuff, or at least some stuff that falls short of the franchise’s increasingly unwieldy ambitions. It’s more somber than any Marvel entry, but also more of a drag. Even this comparatively pared-down story is too immense for streamlining, meaning endless expository scenes setting up countless threads that may be addressed here or, likely, a future entry. Every now and then there’s a fight.