Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

It's been busy around the Shieldmaiden Homestead lately (as always, really), but I was happy to get the chance to have a few hours to myself on Mother's Day. Our babysitter came over, and I got to indulge in seeing a chick flick: Captain America: Civil War. Chick flick for this house, anyway. I suspect most readers here are of the same mind.

Chick flick of choice

I'm not really going to go into the intricacies of the plot, although of course there are spoilers below so stop reading if you don't want to find out what happens. Mostly I'm going to just sort of rant about my reaction to the movie. There are probably literally hundreds of thousands of reviews that tell what the plot is, and I'm so fashionably late to the party here that I assume most people who care about seeing the movie (and might be reading this) have already.

It's no secret that I am, and have been for a long time, a comic book fan. By extension, I'm a fan of comic book movies that aren't awful (fortunately this DOES fall in that category). I've been as avid as anyone else out there about the last decade's worth of comic book movies. All the Iron Mans, the Avengers, the Captain Americas, all of them...but I find myself ending up feeling a bit of ennui about the Avengers story line right about now. Hear me out.

I'll give you the secret recipe that keeps me coming back for more: 1 part action sequences with fantastic stuff, 1 part eye candy, 2 parts quippy remarks and smart one-liner jabs while competent superheroes handle stressful circumstances, 3 parts camaraderie and smooth teamwork to save the day/world. So the ration is 1:1:2:3. I felt like this movie came in more 3:1:1:-1. That is not the proper recipe for this viewer.

I'll break it down for you. I knew going into this I'd be Team Cap, because I'm an idealist for many of the mores of past times, and astute student of history. I also have a deep-seated mistrust of international government organizations that are prone to extreme corruption and mishandling of other people's interests and assets (I'm looking at you, UN), and do not believe that bureaucracies do much good beyond increasing the donut count at a meeting. I think Tony Stark is great too, and understand he's got issues, but I watched the movie and turns out, yep I am DEFINITELY Team Cap. Fortunately eventually....so was Tony. So boom, still got it. But that whole "Civil War" thing was going to be ass-burn for me, and I knew it going in...because it's no fun to watch two of your coolest friends go through a divorce. Let alone when they set all their kids against each other. And that's how it felt.

#teamgrrface

 

But beyond that aspect of discomfort, here's what really bugged me about the movie. I'm sick of the newest Avengers plot-line, which seems to be "Insert character whose sister-aunt-dentist got killed by superheroes. Make them all mealy-mouthed about it for the rest of the movie. REPEAT." Look, I know there's been collateral damage in the other Avengers movies. But, there had to be, to save EVERYONE on the planet. I don't think I'd lose a ton of sleep over that choice. Save one person, or everyone else. Everyone wins, everytime. There's too much hand-wringing and soul-searching, not enough teamwork and taking care of business. And that's not what I go to these movies for. Parts of it reminded me of the senate scenes in the Star Wars prequels....do I have to tell you how much that hurt me? A lot. It hurt me a LOT. I thought we'd learned that legalese deliberation via committee does not a good movie make. I hope they relearn the lesson. It seems as though the Batman habit of making every superhero conflicted (which works fantastically for that series, btw) has leached into my marvel universe. And I do not like that.

The scene I'd been looking for.

 

At least by the end, everyone else realized what I already know: All the corrupt governments in the world are not made equal, and shouldn't be given de facto reign to deliberate and take forever to make immediate decisions when humanity is on the line. (What, that's not what you took away? You're just not jaded enough.) I DID like the ensemble cast, although I sort of wish they just would have knocked off Spiderman. Antman was amazing, and the entire airport fight reminded me of why I love these stories in the first place. But I hope we can stop with the soul searching, and get on with the excitement from here on out. No wonder Thor and Loki sat out on it. 

Eye in the Sky: A movie review (sort of, though there are a FEW spoilers), but more of a reflection

This last weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. As part of the celebration, we went on a date to see the movie "Eye in the Sky" with Helen Mirren (my liege and Queen), Alan Rickman (I think this was likely his last movie, though I don't know for sure), and Barkhad Abdi, who played the main pirate in Captain Phillips (and was phenomenal at it, as he was here, playing an agent for the British in Kenya).

There she is. Strong and beautiful as the day is long.

I'll give a very brief, and hopefully mostly spoiler free, synopsis. In this movie Helen Mirren plays a UK Colonel who is acting as liaison working in the US with the Air Force. The US has the drones the Brits need to surveil (and possibly, if things happen to escalate, strike) targets in a terror plot occurring in Kenya.

Amazingly, things do escalate, and it quickly moves from surveillance to the necessary strike question. All of it is thrown off when a little girl sets up her bread selling stand right within the kill zone (who has a very progressive father who wants her to learn to read and study science right in the middle of a rebel zone. So of course our sympathies are hedged on their side, because they are just trying to live their lives and all that jazz....though the father is also working for the terrorists, so we have the old "just trying to make ends meet but overall a decent fellow" conundrum thrown in for good measure).

Rickman, looking at an idiot politician with disgust and incredulousness, no doubt

 

Now I'm not going to go into all the nitty gritty details here, but this movie did a good job of bringing some messy questions and morality in warfare topics out in the open. Surprisingly, they did it in an awfully pragmatic way, devoid of most of the pie-in-the-sky hand-wringing and "we are only here due to a lack of hugs from the Western Powers" implications they usually beat us over the head with. Although, there was that moment where the drone driver was freaking out over a bunch of questions that I didn't find entirely plausible. But besides that pansy, it was very well handled. Even the young female co-pilot was pretty down to earth.

In one brief movie (just over an hour and a half long), they manage to address in a coherent and fairly conceivable narrative: Dealing with bureaucrats trying to make political gains, relations between allies (the US came off as very professional and calculated, which I supported), supporting those who support us, acceptable collateral damage, mission drift, and the people who are doing everything they can to realistically get a nasty job done vs. the people who don't really care about that. The best quote from the whole thing is by Alan Rickman's character, Lt. General Frank Benson: "Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war."

Check it out of you want something interesting, about warfare (drone warfare in particular), and not morally black and white. In other words, some of my favorite things

 

Abdi, totally nailing it again