Movie review: Captain America: Civil War

I have a soft spot for movies with lots of explosions and (cartoon) violence.  I also have a soft spot for Disney.  And a soft spot for the Marvel movies.  And a *definite* soft spot for Jeremy Renner.  So when you have a movie that contains all of those elements AND adds an extra element of whether government oversight is a good thing or not, it’s enough to warm the cockles of my libertarian heart.

It’s also interesting (and wonderful) to see the Captain America movies improve with every installment.  I thought the original Captain America movie highly mediocre, but “The Winter Soldier” was a pretty good movie, and “Civil War” is excellent.  For those of us who have invested emotional capital in the Avengers characters, it’s a bit heartbreaking to see the divisions between them.  But the division is a result of a fundamental philosophical issue where reasonable minds can disagree, and so it’s an understandable rift.  And you know it’s an important philosophical issue when “The Economist” opines on it in its review of the movie (wrongly, in my humble opinion).  ☺  (It’s also completely in character for Steve Rogers and Tony Stark to almost reach an understanding and then divide again when Tony Stark overreaches himself.  That was a nice narrative touch.)

The movie also introduces two new characters to the Marvel universe—Spiderman (who provides some needed comic relief but some nice action moments, too) and Black Panther, who has a nice storyline about the ramifications of vengeance as a motive.  (And is just way cool, to boot.)

Captain America: Civil War doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not.  The movie has a lot of action and is fast-moving, to the point where some of the secondary characters don’t get a lot of screen time (ahem, such as Hawkeye).  But there is surprising depth to this movie, with its philosophical conundrum and character development.  Ultimately, it’s an excellent addition to the Marvel universe.  (And if you haven’t seen it yet, there are 2 codas to the movie, so don’t miss either one.)

The movie gets a thumbs up from the entire family.

Movie review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

I confess I have a tremendous weakness for movies with lots of explosions and clever banter where the plot is optional (it helps to have eye candy as well). The latest Avengers movie meets the criteria perfectly in all ways.

I saw this movie with the gaggle on Mother’s Day (a perfect Mother’s Day gift!) at Udvar-Hazy, the Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport with the 86 foot by 36 foot screen and its updated 3D projection system and revamped audio system. It’s a great place to see a movie like the Avengers.

There is a semblance of a plot, where Tony Stark (aka Ironman) plays the role of a modern day Dr. Frankenstein. But, really, what this movie is about is a bunch of special effects with a plethora of explosions, and superheroes destroying robots. There’s a fair amount of clever banter, and some unexpected discoveries regarding the personal lives of Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Bruce Banner (Hulk), and Natasha Romanov (Black Widow). There are a couple of new characters, as well, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

I’m a big fan of Jeremy Renner as eye candy, and he certainly had a big enough role to satisfy in that way. Fans of Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey, Jr. will also be happy.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful, contemplative movie, the Age of Ultron is not it. But if you’re looking for an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours with excellent special effects and clever dialogue, this is a good place to start. Be sure to sit through the credits for a teaser ending. And, in case you were wondering, the Avengers (in some form or another) will definitely be back!