Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Theatres: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Abut a decade or so ago, Marvel Comics came up with a "event" miniseries, Civil War, which fractured the Avengers and pitted hero against hero. Unlike the movie that's out now, this started over a relatively smaller domestic incident, not an international one.

But a minor skirmish that gets out of hand in New Jersey or somewhere ain't going to sell tickets at the box office, no matter how you dress it up. Have to confess I wasn't reading a lot of comics at the time---I was mostly a DC guy, and still am---so I wasn't really up to speed on things. What I do know is that Marvel decided to kill off Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, pro tempore, for the sake of a few cheap mainstream media headlines. Disney hasn't exactly curtailed the practice of tabloid baiting since buying the publisher in 2009, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, "Captain America: Civil War" should've bore the Avengers label instead, since it really is about the team and not just Cap (Chris Evans). It begins with a flashback to 1991 and Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), on what amounts to a routine mission. Turns out it's more than just routine, and has a little to do with what is going on 25 years later. A battle in last year's "Age of Ultron" has ramnifications involving an old foe of Cap's, Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), who seeks to avenge the death of his wife and children by projecting his anger toward the Avengers.

Meanwhile, Wakandan King T'Chaka is speaking in Vienna at a conference where over 100 countries are ratifying a pact that would leave the Avengers beholden to the UN. T'Chaka is assassinated, and it appears as though Barnes was responsible. That sets T'Chaka's son, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) off on a quest for vengeance as the Black Panther. T'Challa is now the King of Wakanda himself as a result of his father's passing, and, as comics fans know, he was an Avenger himself. Little does T'Challa know, nor do the Avengers, of how they're being used......!

Unfortunately, as "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" introduced the other members of the Justice League when that film opened six weeks ago, "Civil War" stops the action so the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be introduced to Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) pays a visit to teen science whiz Peter Parker and a very youthful looking Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Tony just has to rein himself in and not try to flirt with May while conducting business with Peter. Just as unfortunate is the fact that while we get the chatty-in-battle Spidey we know from more than 50 years of comics, he's a little too talkative for his own good in both identities, kind of like the current, insufferable Ultimate Spider-Man series on Disney XD. Holland is a better fit in the role, though, than ex-Nickelodeon star Drake Bell, who voices Peter in the cartoons.

Here's the trailer:

And also on the way:

"X-Men: Apocalypse" (May 27): Bryan Singer returns to helm this latest X-adventure, which has the team being led by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). I've definitely got to catch up....!

"Central Intelligence": Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson ain't exactly Chris Tucker & Jackie Chan,  but this buddy comedy ain't exactly the 2nd coming of "Rush Hour", either (and the TV version of that film series was a bomb, from what I hear).

"The Secret Life of Pets": Hart is also in this one, along with Louis CK and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family). Thought they did this one already.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows" (June 10): Fresh trailer. In case you didn't know, Stephen Amell (Arrow) joins the cast as Casey Jones.

"The Shallows": Just another horror movie from outta nowhere, this one about a woman stranded in the ocean, surrounded by sharks.

"Doctor Strange" (November): Benedict Cumberbatch is Dr. Stephen Strange, physician-turned-sorcerer supreme. Tilda Swinton ("The Chronicles of Narnia") is getting hated on for playing the Ancient One, and Marvel is trying to explain that one away as best as able.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (December): Just in time to buy more Star Wars toys for Christmas.

"Civil War" gets a B+.

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