• by Wes Singleton

Review: Captain America: Civil War, B+

Rated PG-13, 147 minutes

As the old saying goes, a house divided against itself cannot stand, but in the Marvel comics realm, it sure does make for an exciting movie. The summer movie season usually begins with a big bang, and it does this year too with "Captain America: Civil War," an entertaining, if not slightly overlong, showdown between the Cap and Tony Stark. Upfront I'll say that the previous entry, "Winter Soldier," was overall more thrilling and held a stronger, more engaging narrative, but this fun entry has a considerable amount of comic book bravado, with some nice touches and additions. In this outing, pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and others in the Avengers gang must pick a side. Directed by "Winter Soldier" directing brothers Joe and Anthony Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely, who have written all the "Captain America" films, "Captain America: Civil War" is more of what the Marvel and Disney team deliver well: loads of stellar action, visuals and plenty of intriguing characters. Dutifully entertaining, energetic and fast-paced, it doesn't disappoint and will leave audiences satisfied regardless of which side they choose. The "Captain America" films have become arguably among the better films in the Marvel Universe, and though those claims of being the best "Avengers" film or even the best Captain America film are a little overstated, falling prey to fanboy hype (as I said before, "Winter Soldier" is still slightly better). While this movie has Captain America's name in the title, it's essentially an ensemble-heavy "Avengers"-lite, without Thor and Hulk, who are conspicuously missing here without explanation (as is Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts), and the bland storytelling, involving a sinister Russian terrorist named Zemo (Daniel Bruhl, underused), takes a back seat to the ongoing Cap and Stark debates about their powers being contained. Evans and especially Downey are solid as ever, with nice additions in bringing in Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) and what will surely be one of the most talked about characters, the re-introduction of a wide-eyed, teenage Peter Parker/Spider-Man, humorously played by newcomer Tom Holland (when he first meets the Winter Soldier: "Dude, you have a metal arm? Cool!). There are a few admittedly thrilling action set pieces, the best being mid-film where all the gang comes together in a Jets-Sharks-like epic battle, that also brings the always delightful Paul Rudd, back as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle's War Machine, Johansson's Black Widow, and Anthony Mackie's Falcon, all who get in a good scene or two. The enjoyable "Civil War" isn't Marvel's all-time best, but it still comes up a winner, and if I have choose a side, sorry Captain, I'm Team IronMan all the way, who's still the coolest superhero on the planet.

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