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Laramie Movie Scope:
Captain America: Civil War

Maybe the best Marvel movie yet

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 7, 2016 -- Marvel Studios produces hit movie after hit movie in such a reliable fashion as to earn the enmity of some critics who prefer artsy fare, like those who whine that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas killed the movies. I'm not one of them, in case you were wondering. I like superhero movies.

This latest product of the Marvel monster hit machine, is also one of the best Marvel films, with a solid screenplay and interesting characters. When I saw that this was going to be a clash of superheroes, with former friends fighting each other, I wondered how they were going to set it up. Very carefully, it turns out, with some very nice dialog and a killer performance in a bit role by Alfre Woodard, who confronts Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) about the death of her son, who died during a battle between the Avengers and Ultron (a villain created accidentally by Stark) in Sokovia (in the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron).

Tony Stark (Iron Man) is affected by this confrontation. He decides to go along with a plan to put the Avengers under the control of a United Nations organization, but Steve Rogers (Captain America, played by Chris Evans) doesn't agree. He doesn't trust the government to do the right thing. The Avengers are split down the middle, some for, some against United Nations control. I was impressed by the arguments made on both sides of the matter. These arguments are substantive, well-grounded and believable, both emotionally and intellectually.

This whole disagreement is brought to a head when the government puts out a hit on Captain America's only old friend, Bucky Barnes (AKA the Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan). The Winter Soldier is thought to be a terrorist who attacks a United Nations assembly, but Barnes says he did not do it and Captain America believes him.

This leads to a series of battles between two factions of former allies among the Avengers, along with two outsiders, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) who also get drawn into this war.

The chief villain in the film, Zemo (Daniel Brühl of “Rush”) has an ax to grind with the Avengers. He sets up this civil war by using a very complicated scheme to manipulate the Avengers. This scheme relies on all variables working out just right through luck rather than craft, like many other such movie plots – and conspiracy theories.

Eventually, some of this gets sorted out when Zemo is caught, but the government, proving itself to be as incompetent and unwise as Captain America suspected it was, won't release its superhero prisoners. This dim view of the government is in line with what most Americans think of their own government nowadays. In the first Captain America movie, Steve Rogers was a patriot, pure and simple, but in subsequent movies, he has become less so. In this latest movie, Rogers has gone outside the law and is attacking a government run facility.

It is hard not to see this in terms of American politics these days, with all the distrust of “insiders” and the attraction of political “outsiders” (or, to be more blunt, the poltically unsophisticated) like Donald Trump. This movie is all about outsiders who don't trust the government to do the right thing.

Of course this movie has great action scenes, some great fights, and lots of great special effects, but it is also a movie with strong characters and a compelling story. It will also make a lot of money for Marvel Studios and Disney, which drives some critics stark raving nuts, but that's their problem. The point of this film is to entertain, and to make lots of money, and it is doing both. I can't wait to see it again. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)