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Italian director Luca Guadagnino does a wonderful job of providing us with a dazzling view of the Mediterranean landscape. There was also a powerful cast of actors including Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton.

However, I was pretty bored.

Thankfully, there was a lot of nudity to perk me up and keep me awake. I did almost doze off twice during A Bigger Splash, which is not a good sign.

Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) was an internationally famous rock star on vacation with her lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) and she was nursing a vocal condition that did not allow her to speak above a raspy whisper. Things were going great until Marianne’s former flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) inserted themselves in on the couple.

Fiennes brought energy to this film that was undeniable. He was really over the top with this character, and at times he was as abrasive as he was entertaining. It was clear that he had an agenda for his relationship with Marianne. It was revealed that Harry had introduced Paul to Marianne, trying to provide a way out of their relationship.

Even with the supposed friendship between these three characters (not counting the unexpected daughter), the bounds of friendship seemed to be pushed to its breaking point several times and this really made me wonder why Marianne and Paul put up with the eccentric actions of Harry.

Plus…everybody is naked.

This might be a very European way to look at the human body, but every time Harry stripped naked to jump into the pool in front of everybody (including his daughter) I found it odd.

There was very little in way of a story involved in this movie, relying on the performances of the actors to carry the movie. This meant that when the film seemed to make a right turn near the end, it felt very weird and out of place. The last 30 minutes of this movie was very bizarre and does not pay off. There are several questions left to answer, that the film leaves to the viewer to determine. And while I would usually not be opposed to that technique, in this case, I needed to know the answers to really know how to react to the unexpected character swaps that happen in the conclusion.

Overall, A Bigger Splash was kind of boring and lacked a story, but bragged some good performances by some really talented actors who are almost able to save the film.

2.4 stars

 

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I did not hate Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland from 2010, a film that made a surprising billion (yes, with a b) dollars worldwide. When a film reaches the billion dollar level, a sequel is unavoidable. Now, a lot of people dislike the last film, but, looking back, I gave it 3 stars (which is a fresh review, but at the lower end). Alice Through the Looking Glass is not as good as Burton’s film, but it is not as bad as many people are making it out to be.

Johnny Depp returns at the Mad Hatter, but this time, he has become depressed. So depressed that his friends believe that he was dying. In a hope to help him, Absolem (voiced by the late Alan Rickman) leads Alice, who had just returned from sea as a captain of her father’s old ship, The Wonder, back through the looking glass. Alice is shocked at seeing what had happened to The Hatter, but she dismisses his story connected to his family.

This plot point was questionable. Why would The Hatter’s family being alive be impossible to Alice? She did just move from one plane of existence to another through a mirror. She had talked to a purple moth and a smiling, disappearing cat. Why is it impossible for Alice to believe that The Hatter’s family may be alive? The reason was that the script needed her to believe that to continue the downward spiral of The Hatter.

In a desperate attempt to save him, Alice comes up with a cockamamie plan to steal a device from Time (Sasha Baron Cohen) and go back in time to save Hatter’s family from death at the hands (or fire breath) of the Jabberwocky. Sasha Baron Cohen, who was in one of the worst films of the year a few months ago, is perfect in this role, and his Time is one of the absolute highlights of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Time warns Alice that her attempts are for naught, but the girl ignores his warnings and steals the device anyway.

Time then chases Alice back through time to try and return the device to its rightful place before it caused the destruction of time. Alice was shown as a very inconsiderate and dangerous individual, tossing aside apocalyptic warnings from Time all for her own personal reasons. One could say that she was no different than Iracebeth, the Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter) with her selfishness. Did this make Alice the villain of this story?

There was a ton of CGI, and, although the colors were fun to look at and entertaining, much of it felt fake, almost cartoony. Maybe that was what the producers were going for, but the CGI was distracting at times.

There was also an inane story showing the origin of Iracebeth and why she became such an evil, head-chopping off villainess. And it had to do with eating tarts. Yes, you read that right. Her sister Mirana (Anne Hathaway) had a deep dark secret she was hiding. She lied about something as a child and Iracebeth was blamed, leading to her falling and hitting her head, causing it to swell up. Apparently concussions are an even worse thing in Wonderland. This whole origin story was ridiculous and drew away from the parts of the story that did work.

Johnny Depp was decent as the Hatter, but he really did not have a lot to do. They tried to make the emotional center of the movie the loss of Hatter’s family, but there was not enough interactions with the family to really make the connection with the audience.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is sitting at 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, while I think that is too low for this movie, I do understand why some people have found this film rotten. Technically, my review would be a rotten review as well, but I did not hate the film. It was a little over long, and it lacked a real emotional story, but there were enough parts that I enjoyed to say that I did not waste my time.

2.5 stars

 

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X-Men: Apocalypse is the latest in the X-Men franchise, bringing one of Marvel Comics’ biggest and baddest X-villains to the big screen. The world’s first mutant, En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is accidentally brought back to the world and he picks right up with his plan on devastating the world, leaving only the strong, those who follow him. The X-Men step up to oppose him and his Four Horsemen in a massive CGI slugfest at the end of the film.

Now, I have heard some negative comments on X-Men: Apocalypse, so my expectations, which would have been sky high after the excellent X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, were managed. Because of the lower expectations, I found myself enjoying this story of mutants, despite several flaws and times when they dropped the ball.

I will continue telling you about what I liked and didn’t like, but it will need to be under the guise of SPOILERS from now on. If you have yet to see the film and you do not want to be spoiled, please skip to the end. You have now been warned.

The best part of this film is the character development of Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Magneto is living a quiet life, with a wife and a daughter, as a metal worker in Poland. He had left the international terrorist lifestyle behind him and he was happy. However, after using his powers at work to save the life of a co-worker, Magneto was exposed. The following scene where Magneto is confronted by law enforcement and his wife and daughter are unintentionally killed packs a powerful emotional wallop and is the heart of the film. We see Erik trying his best to stay on the side of the heroes, only to be faced with such a horrific tragedy, and his resumption of hostilities. Michael Fassbender is heartbreaking in this scene as the man struggled with the loss of his family and the feeling of fate pulling him back to the dark side. You knew those cops didn’t stand a chance with a pissed off Magneto.

This anger and vengeful attitude opens Magneto up to be recruited by Apocalypse, who is looking for his new Horsemen. Now, this is one of the weak parts of the film. Not Magneto, but the other three Horsemen. Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Angel (Ben Hardy) are woefully underused and really are just here to stand beside Apocalypse. However, these two characters are done perfectly when compared to Psylocke (Olivia Munn). This was such a wasted use of one of the top female X-characters that is was embarrassing. She had nothing to do and she was nothing more than a henchman. Psylocke was the worst character in the film.

On the X-Men side, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has set up his Xavier Institute for the Gifted and everything seems to be going smoothly. McAvoy is fantastic as Professor X, though I must say that some of the attempts at humor with Charles seemed to fall flat for me. Xavier discovered the return of Apocalypse with the use of Cerebro and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) returned to the school with Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in tow. She told the X-Men about the troubles of Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence did not show her best level of acting skills in this film, looking as if she were bored. She was almost never in the blue makeup, instead choosing to have her own blonde haired visage almost exclusively. I am not sure that I would go as far as to say that she phoned her performance in, but she has certainly had more effort in other films.

The new (old) X-Men- Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) were great additions to the cast, and I could have used more of them. I really liked how they displayed Cyclops’ powers and how destructive they were. They made these powers appear to be a real burden for the young hero. This was a way to connect Scott and Jean together as we found out that Jean has had many of the same kind of issues. A scene late in the film with Jean unleashing what appeared to be the Phoenix was a highlight of that final battle. I also enjoyed the reintroduction of Nightcrawler, who was provided with not only some major things to do, but also delivered some of the film’s better humor.

Speaking of the final battle, honestly, it was underwhelming. There were some awesome moments inside the battle (ex Phoenix force, Professor X battling Apocalypse inside his mind), but most of the rest of the fight was basically standing pat. When you compare this battle with the airport scene from Captain America: Civil War, this looks all the more weak. Then, Magneto and Storm both turned their backs on Apocalypse, and I am not sure the motivations. I did not buy the reasoning for either of them to turn their back on Apocalypse.

Quicksilver (Evan Peters) made his return. In Days of Future Past, the Quicksilver scene was an absolute standout moment,and everyone was expecting more here. And we got it. Quicksilver saved all of the mutants from the exploding mansion. This is a great use of the character of Quicksilver, who is shown with a great personality. Not only was he portrayed well, the use of his powers helped develop his personality more. This was done extremely well in Civil War. Every scene in that airport scene served character. This was not always done here, but Quicksilver was a good example of doing this well. However, I did have a little bit of trouble accepting that Quicksilver was THAT fast. Still, the scene was highly entertaining and shot well.

The appearance of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was predictable,but fun. And man, did he go berserker? He butchered those men. As a comic fan, I appreciated the use of the actual Weapon X helmet and look for Logan. There was also a cool moment between Logan and new Jean that could help explain why Logan always felt such a connection to the redhead.

END OF SPOILERS

X-Men: Apocalypse is not at the same level of the last few X-Men movies, nor does it reach the excellent that was X2, but it is an enjoyable time at the movies, especially after I lowered my expectations. Sure, there are some problems with the film, including having some characters there for simply window service, a simplistic story and a questionable finale. However, fans of the X-Men should find enough here to be pleased with Bryan Singer’s latest installment.

3.5 stars

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a hoot.  The film featured the comedic group Lonely Island, the musical digital-shorts superstars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, a group that has become famous online and on Saturday Night Live.

Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) is the latest, big thing.  Originally striking it big with his childhood friends Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) as a boy band-like band called The Style Boyz, Conner4Real went solo after a on stage fall out with his friends.  Conner4Real is sky high, but his second album does not reach the heights he and his crew were expecting.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was extremely funny.  I was laughing loudly throughout the entire film.  There are some really crass humor in the film, and most of that really works.  Crassness is fine with me, if it is funny, and this is.

This had a definite feel of This is Spinal Tap.  The story is told in a documentary style and that format really is effective to tell this story.  Of course, the whole idea is very much like Spinal Tap, specifically the last part of Spinal Tap where Nigel Tufnel leaves the band over a fight with David St. Hubbins.  Popstar tells the same story, only expanding that over the entire film.

Now, yes the story is predictable, and it might seem a little long, but, to me, these are nitpicks because I so enjoyed everything about this film.  The music is excellent, with most of them being really funny.  The Lonely Island is a very talented band and they showed it in these great songs.

This is a very hard R rated film, as there is a lot of language and sexual references and some nudity (including an amazingly funny moment with a penis).

Adam Samberg is great in the lead role here.  I have never been a huge fan of Samberg, but he is truly winning in this role.  There were a ton of moments of heart and sweetness among the dirty humor.

Tim Meddows does a great job as Conner4Real’s manager Harry.  Sarah Silverman played Paula, one of Conner4Real’s PR people.  Both of these actors help ground the craziness of Samberg’s character, and that is very important, because there are some really oddball antics going on that could be difficult to related to.

And one of the absolutely best thing about this movie was the amazing list of cameos.  Everyone from Mariah Carey to Weird Al Yankovic appear in this mockumentary style film.  Justin Timberlake is here as well and he is hilarious.  This is some of the best cameos you will ever see.  Probably the best cameos of the year so far.

This movie was extremely funny.  I laughed from the start to the end and, despite the predictable story, I loved this film.

4.2 stars

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Think about this.  Would the way you remember your childhood be the same way that someone else in your life remembers your childhood?  Does point of view alter the perception of what actually happened?

These are questions that are handled in The Adderal Diaries, a new independent film starring James Franco and Ed Harris.

Franco plays Stephen Elliot, a real life author upon whose memoir this film is based.  Stephen has had a miserable childhood, specifically because of the abuse and neglect of his father Neil (Ed Harris).  Despite this, Stephen has become a successful author with a big, upcoming book deal on the table.  However, the local murder trial of accused murderer Hans Reiser (Christian Slater) suddenly fascinates him and this trial begins to become a problem in Stephen’s life.  As does his father, whom Stephen has claimed is dead, when he shows up at a book signing and basically outs his son as a fraud.

Stephen, who has had troubles with drugs and alcohol as well as a fetish for S & M, begins to unravel from his carefully constructed narrative, along with the new and positive relationship he had just begun with journalist Lana (Amber Heard).  We begin to question not only the memories from the past, but also exactly how much of a victim Stephen was.

There are some very solid moments in The Adderall Diaries.  The concept of the film is very interesting.  With the doubt being cast on exactly whose POV can be trusted, the movie can play with the flashbacks to keep the audience guessing about what truly happened.  The problem is that the film does not really do that.  Instead of playing it as a mystery, it kind of just switches from one perspective to another.  Many of the scenes in the first hour of the film felt disjointed and not fully integrated into the narrative of the film.  It could have definitely used some more connective tissue to hold these reasonably decent scenes together.

James Franco is solid as the lead in this film, but there is nothing really standout about his performance.  It is a performance that you have seen from James Franco many times before.  More interesting was the performance of Ed Harris, who plays the father with such an uncertainty that it makes you owner exactly what the man is thinking.  He is, at both times, a sad and pathetic man and a horrible, spite-inducing abuser.  Harris does not hide from the negative aspects of the character, choosing instead to embrace the negative traits.  This choice makes the father much more of an enigma than just a stereotype of an abusive father, a role that we have seen countless times.

The whole murder trial of Hans Reiser felt out of place in the film.  Sure, I understand that this film was intended to help Stephen as a trigger to examine the truth behind what he remembered as a child, but it did not work.  It was more of a distraction than anything else.

I also did not like the S & M aspects of the film.  This is not 50 Shades of Grey.  None of the scenes from Stephen’s past made sense to why he became this messed up, although there were some sexual  abuse teased at during the flashbacks.  There should have been more concrete connections to the way he was today to justify the use of the flashback technique.

This felt as if it could have been a better movie than it was, but it is not terrible.  There are positives in the movie, but nothing a good rewrite and tightening up some story elements couldn’t help.

2.7 stars

 

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The Huntsman: Winter’s War is both a prequel and a sequel to the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman as the film tells a tale that is engulfed around the original movie, and there is no sign of Snow White.  That is because Kristen Stewart was not involved in this.  She was the one who was the wisest of them all.

This movie was really boring.  It told an unnecessary story based around the life of the Huntsman Eric(Chris Hemsworth), how he came to be a huntsman and a love story with fellow huntsman Sara (Jessica Chastain).  Unfortunately for Eric, as a child he was snatched away from his parents as they were slaughtered (right out of Conan the Barbarian, which I thought of while watching that scene) and taken to the evil ice controlling queen.  No it is not evil Elsa.  She was the Ice Queen, Queen Freya (Emily Blunt). The evil queen from the original movie Ravenna (Charlize Theron) turned out to be Freya’s sister.  Freya had a baby, the love of her life, but circumstances occurred where the baby is burned to death by an intruder, triggering the power inside Freya and sending her into a cold and emotional-less state.  She rallied against love of any kind.

So when her two best Huntsmen, Eric and Sara, grow from children and fall in love, they must be punished.

There were so many contrived scenes in this film that there are too many to mention.  The scene where Sara and Eric are separated is clearly one of those.  None of it really made much sense, but that does not seem to be of major importance to The Huntsman movie.

Chris Hemsworth continues his unfortunate streak of being enjoyable in a bad movie.  With the exception of his role as Thor, every film Hemsworth seems to be in are poor despite his charisma and talent.  If I were him, I wouldn’t be giving up Mjolnir any time soon.

Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron, who have been remarkably great over the last few years, give two of the worst performances you will see.  Blunt in particular is just so bad in this movie, giving as icy of a performance as this not-quite Elsa character deserved.  One would wonder if she knew she was as bad as she appeared while filming it.  Theron, hot off of her huge role in Mad Max: Fury Road, phones in her performance as the not dead Ravenna.  Both villains are unworthy of a big time blockbuster as this film wants to be.

The supporting characters are all annoying and dull.  There are four dwarfs that are meant to be the comic relief, but they fall considerably short (pun unintended).  Nick Frost, in particular, as Nion is unfunny and that just shouldn’t be the case.

The biggest flaw of the movie is that it is dull.  The action is okay, but there is too little of it. The final scene was so predictable that I had just said minutes before what they had to do to stop the villains.  My favorite action scene was Eric leaping onto the castle roof and sliding down the angle.  However, that we had already seen in the trailer.  The CGI was okay at best.  It was certainly nowhere near the quality of The Jungle Book from the week before.  Coming out so close to that film can only hurt the Huntsman in comparison.

I do like Chris Hemsworth as well as the other actors involved in this project so I hope that they can find successful roles to wash the stink of this one off their resumes.  The Huntsman: Winter’s War was a real block of ice.

1.9 stars

 

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How cute…….

What a cutie kitty cat….

One of the most adorable kitty cats to ever grace the big screen.

Keanu is the big screen debut of the television comedy pair Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and they are very funny.  I especially enjoy Keegan-Michael Key, having seen him on other shows and as a few appearances on the new version of Whose Line is it Anyway?, and being a big cat fan, I was really looking forward to Keanu.

Rell (Jordan Peele) has been dumped by his girlfriend and he is depressed when the cutest little kitty shows up on his doorstep.  Naming him Keanu, Rell snaps back and his life becomes focused on Keanu.  Little did he know, Keanu was originally the kitten of a drug lord who had been murdered, leading to several criminals trying to reclaim the cat.

Let’s start off with this.  Yes, there are some really ridiculous things that happen in this movie.  Seeing Rell and Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) going “undercover” inside the gang in an attempt to retrieve Keanu really stretches the suspension of disbelief.  Much of the action scenes really have to be taken with a grain of salt.  In fact, I might have even preferred there to be less gunfire and action.  Having said that, if you could suspend that disbelief, there were a lot of laughs to be had.  And let’s just agree that that cat is awesome.

Amazingly, that was part of the story.  Everybody that comes across Keanu falls in love with him and wants to take him for themselves.  That cat must have magical powers.

Key and Peele’s acting like thugs was hilarious, playing with the stereotypes of the typical African-American criminals/drug gangs.

The running gag about George Michael (from Wham!) is funny, but may have run too long.  Still, watching a car load of drug gang members singing along with “Father Figure” is absolutely worth the price of admission.

Again, this film has many flaws.  The plot is silly.  The action is hard to believe.  Some characters are extremely annoying (hi there Will Forte).  Yet I can forgive all of these issues with the film because it made me laugh more than it didn’t, and when I was laughing, I don’t have to sit and think how stupid something is.  The humor is based on the events and the characters and I found myself really liking Key and Peele.  Plus, Keanu is just ridiculously adorable.

This could have been better, but it is not bad.

3.5 stars

 

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This is one of the odder biopics that you are going to see.  Jazz legend Miles Davis, portrayed and directed by Don Cheadle, stars in Miles Ahead, a title of one of Davis’s albums.

The reason this film is so unconventional as a biopic is this:  the film focuses strictly on two basic moments of Miles Davis’s life, when he met and married his wife France (Emayatzy Corinealdi) during the 1950s and a time twenty years later when he withdrew from the music industry.  The film bounced back and forth between the two time frames with a reasonable amount of success.  However, with the older Miles, he goes through a story that feels extremely fictionalized.  True, Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), Rolling Stone writer who comes to see if he can get the story of Davis’s grand return to the music world is a fictional character.  This makes me wonder how much of the tale we see with Miles and Dave in conflict with the record company over Davis’s new recordings is actually real and how much is made up.  That would place its genre into the historical fiction instead of a biopic.

Not that the film has to be truthful to be good.  In fact, Miles Ahead is a very solid film, with a fantastic performance from Don Cheadle and some amazing music.  Miles said in the film that he hated the term “jazz” and preferred his music to be labeled “social music.”  The soundtrack of the film is definitely one of the strengths.

And as I said, Cheadle is masterful in his performance as Miles Davis.  It is uncanny how much Cheadle looked and sounded like the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.  The film does not shy away from the warts of Miles Davis as we see him out of control several times, including when he drove his loving wife away after a significantly and dangerously violent incident.  We see him paranoid, full of self-doubt and arrogance at the same time and an expectation that he is who he is.  Davis is incredibly self-destructive and this plays out throughout the film.  The strength of Cheadle’s performance truly kept this film from losing track of what it wanted to be.

Ewan McGregor does an admirable job as the desperate journalist who finds himself enthralled in Miles Davis’s insanity, all for the opportunity of writing a story, but his character is fairly underdeveloped.  We really don’t know much more about him than he works for Rolling Stone and he really wants to write a story to help Miles.  Yet. McGregor and Cheadle have good chemistry with one another, which was a serious importance for this film to work, and that chemistry covers the lack of development of David.

More developed is Miles’ wife France (Emayatzy Corinealdi).  A dancer, Frances is shown as a strong woman who loved Miles, and put up with a lot of crap from the musician.  She had dedicated her life to her husband, going as far as to give up her dancing because he had asked her to do so.  The connection between Miles and Frances was played well throughout the film and you could believe that he always loved her.

While the scenes from the 1950s play like legitimate flashbacks. the section of the story with McGregor and Cheadle feel like a completely made up story, making this film a weird dichotomy.  I was amazed how effectively these two different genre types worked together in Miles Ahead.

I knew very little about Miles Davis’s life or career prior to seeing Miles Ahead, and that probably served me well.  At this minute, I am not sure what I really know about Miles Davis’ life or career.  I have to say, however, that I am interested to know more.

3.7 stars

 

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There are not enough superlatives in my vocabulary to sufficiently do justice to this movie.

Captain America: Civil War is, simply put, in my opinion, the best comic book movie ever made.  That is not hyperbole.  I was sitting in the theater with tears in my eyes because it was so wonderful.  The action is as good as you will ever see, but there is so much more than just that.  There is an unbelievable amount of emotion percolating throughout the show that you are constantly feeling the intensity and the sentiment.

Plus, the movie somehow provides you two characters, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, pitting them on opposite sides of the issues- almost polar opposites, and yet makes you, as the viewer, think that both sides are right.  Even if you come in as #TeamCap, you cannot watch Civil War without empathizing and understanding what Tony Stark is feeling and doing.  How can both sides be right?  Civil War does it, and that only serves to amp up the narrative all the more.

So the plot:  after another Avengers mission overseas chasing after Crossbones (Frank Grillo) leads to innocent civilians dying in the crossfire, the United Nations, led by Secretary of State Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt, reclaiming his role from The Incredible Hulk), want the Avengers to sign an agreement for the UN to have oversight over the Avengers.  Some of the team agrees that this is a good idea, this group led by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) where as other team members see this as a step towards losing their freedom of choice, this group led by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).

This was already causing trouble within the Avengers, but suddenly, The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is blamed for a terrorist attack at the accord signing, and that throws everything for a loop.  Cap wants to help his friend, while Iron Man wants Bucky to be brought in as a murdering criminal.  Little does either of them know that Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is actually behind the attack.

Couple things right off the bat.  Everyone is talking about how the “airport” scene is great.  I am here to tell you that it is the most epic extended fight scene ever put on screen.  Every character involved in this scene (which runs around 17 minutes) have something special happen.  It has unbelievable action and everything that happens makes total sense.  All of the action is rooted in these characters that we have such an emotional connection to and that only makes this airport scene even more amazing.

I will say this.  There are plenty of people who will want to compare Captain America: Civil War to Batman V. Superman.  I am here to tell you that, despite a similar thematic narrative, that is not a fair comparison.  Captain America: Civil War has the benefit of having twelve movies behind it to set of these characters and their motivations.  We understand these characters and why they do what they do because we have seen it.  Batman V. Superman did not have that luxury, having only Man of Steel to build character.

Captain America: Civil War has such a support behind it that it makes me wonder how effective the film would be if this were the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film that you have seen.  Seeing the previous movies absolutely makes this a richer cinematic experience.  Civil War does another amazing thing.  This is clearly a sequel in a narrative sense to Captain America: Winter Soldier, but it also makes for a fantastic sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron.  It is both a Captain America stand alone film and also an Avengers film.  Those people claiming that this is Avengers 2.5  are not wrong, but it is also a great stand alone.  Civil War has created some fantastic paradoxes.

Now, I am probably going to talk about SPOILERS form this point on…so if you have not yet seen Captain America: Civil War, please skip this part of the review and go to the end.  Since the last trailer, I have actively avoided footage that kept popping up online, despite desperately wanting to watch it, and I am very happy that I did.

Spider-man.  There is no doubt that Spider-man is my absolute favorite character, not just in comic book movies, but of all time.  Tom Holland is perhaps the greatest version of Spider-man and Peter Parker we have seen on the movie screen.  He is funny, he is awesome with his action, and he accounts for himself beautifully.  Yes, perhaps the hot Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) may take some getting used to, but Tom Holland has won me over completely.

Black Panther.  Chadwick Boseman has taken this new character and just knocked it out of the park.  As T’Challa, who blames Bucky for the attack on the UN that led to the death of his father, Boseman played T’Challa as such a bad ass, but one who carried himself with a nobility.  There was a regalness about him.  This is the King of Wakanda, and it showed.  This only helps make me more excited for the Black Panther stand alone movie.

The massive airport scene was such a large scale and epic battle, but the film ends with a very small scale, but dramatically personal fight.  When Zemo played the tape showing that Bucky had killed Tony Stark’s parents, I thought I was going to lose it.  I did not see that twist coming, despite seeing Bucky run this car off the road at the beginning of the movie.  Robert Downey Jr. really brought his game here.  You could see the torment and the regret in his face as Stark realized that his opportunity to make up with his father (John Slattery) had been taken away from him by The Winter Soldier.  Years of repressed anger and frustrations came out of Tony when that happened, and he just wanted to kill Bucky.  And you couldn’t blame him.  This was another example of how Captain America: Civil War is able to balance two sides and make them both seem equally right.

Chris Evans is every bit the counter-balance to Robert Downey Jr.  As an acting pair, these two are as much of powerhouses as their comic book counterparts.  Downey Jr. may be the godfather of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Evans is the heart and soul.

There are great moments for everyone here.  Elizabeth Olson as Scarlet Witch is great, and spends a good part of the fight bailing the others out of trouble.  Vision is rocking a sweater.  Hawkeye returns from retirement to help out Wanda.  Ant Man makes a giant impact.  Black Widow is a serious ass kicker, but also brings a moral uncertainty unlike any other.

I have also heard a lot of criticism about the villain.  Marvel movies have had some issues with their villains, and rightly so, but I did not find that an issue here.  I thought that Daniel Brühl was exceptional as the not quite so Baron Zemo.  His motivation was understandable (and even heart breaking) and, though his plan may have been shaky, he felt like a needed foil to continue to push the Avengers in the path that he wanted them to go.  He was not an over the top, mustache twirling, world dominating super villain.  He was just a highly skilled man who wanted revenge for the perceived slight and I believed it.  I am very glad that he survived the movie, because I think we could easily have much more development of Baron Zemo over the years to the point where he could become someone more like his comic book alter ego.

Captain America: Civil War is perhaps the most mature Marvel movie yet.  Not to say that there isn’t great humor in this like the other films.  However, the humor feels very organic.  The characters who are supposed to be funny, are.  Stark is quippy.  Spidey and Ant Man are down right laugh out loud.  But there are definitive stakes here, and the stakes feel real.

Two post credit scenes as well, including one of them with Spidey that just filled my heart with joy.

END OF SPOILERS

Captain America: Civil War is brilliant.  There is no other way to put it.  I loved this film.  It is my favorite comic book movie by far, and, after seeing this a few more time, I might even go as far as saying that it is my favorite movie period.

I came into this movie with expectations that were sky high, and it surpassed all of them.

It is a masterpiece.

5 stars

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