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Captain America: Civil War (Blu-ray Review)

Civil-WarMarvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” has conquered both audiences and critics, debuting to $179.1 million—the fifth-biggest domestic opening of all time—and earning a 90% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  “Captain America: Civil War” is the highest-grossing film of 2016 domestically, internationally and globally, earning more than $1.14 billion at the worldwide box office. It also continues Marvel Studios’ winning streak as the 13th consecutive film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to debut at #1 at the domestic box office. When Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” arrives early on Digital HD, Digital 3D and Disney Movies Anywhere on Sept. 2 and on Blu-ray™ 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand on Sept. 13, viewers can join the nonstop action and pick their side—Team Cap, commanded by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), or Team Iron Man, led by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).

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Film 

The most explosive clash to ever rock the Marvel Cinematic Universe ignites a firestorm of conflict in the game-changing epic, Captain America: Civil War.  In the wake of collateral damage, government pressure to rein in the Avengers drives a deep wedge between Captain America and Iron Man, causing a catastrophic rift that escalates into an all-out feud.  Against a backdrop of divided loyalties, their fellow Avengers must deal with the fallout.

Summer movie season kicked off big time.  Little did we know, we were really at one of the biggest peaks it would have from the start.  For a little over a year we’d been excited to see Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, Iron Man and Captain America, Team Iron Man and Team Cap, square off in one big Avenger battle.  Also importantly, and doubling up, would be the follow up to the hugely popular Winter Solider film that Captain America had before The Age of Ultron.  Would the film wind up just being an Avengers 2.5 or would it end up actually being Captain America 3.

Well, it winds up really finding a way to be both.  While this is clearly Captain America’s film, Tony Stark gets to have his say and do as well.  With both characters we get something you don’t usually see in these things; both are right.  Both have great arguments to their side, both make regrettable or unfavorable decisions.  There is no black and white, and that’s one of the best things about Civil War.  With Batman and Superman, you constantly were just waiting for Batman to see the error in his ways and for them to hurry up and get it over with.  Here, even at their most heated, everyone is family and there is a sense of respect kept, even in its darkest moments.  And that’s no tall task.

I know most of this is Steve and Tony, but the other Avengers get their moments and stories too.  Black Widow, as always gets to be a significant player.  But, holdovers from the last film, Vision and Scarlet Witch are both given arcs and due time in the story.  Our newby Black Panther also gets a full on origin and big time player role in the main story.  Spider-Man shows up, and while he’s not there much, they make the best of him in an unforgettable and incredibly fun turn and take on the web slinger (maybe our best yet).  Ant-Man also has that same kind of effect on the film.

The film’s villain, Baron Zemo, I felt the first time I watched it was yet another weaker Marvel villain.  But he’s not, he’s one of the strongest.  He wants to be in the background.  That’s the point this time around.  That’s why when he’s there it counts.  His whole plan is a neat unraveling mystery that gets the blood pumping during his final reveal.  The Russo’s have said that David Fincher’s Seven was a big influence on this movie, and you can’t help but not see that, making Bruhl’s Zemo even more effective and fully realized.

Now, the movie isn’t without fault.  Its totally bloated.  There is a TON going on in the movie and it has a very lengthy story to tell.  One thing that stuck out to me is how much traveling is done in the film.  We can’t just sit anywhere for two seconds.  There are a bunch of title cards used in the film because it seems like every 4-5 minutes we are hopping either countries or cities.  On my second viewing, I noticed this much more, but it is almost to parody levels how almost every conversation in the first hour of the film ends then we cut to an exterior shot with a country’s name in big print covering the screen.

A big plus in the carry over from Winter Soldier is a continued symmetry with the action.  The Russo’s are proving themselves to be one of Hollywood’s very best action director’s.  They have well choreographed sequences that ooh and aw throughout the film.  Everyone points to the big fun superhero airport tarmac battle before the third act, but there are 2 top notch sequences that are even more impressive because they are less “givens”.  I’m speaking of the opener against Crossbones as well as Steve and Bucky escaping the German police and fleeing Black Panther.  Some really involving, innovative and cling to your seat sequences that also feature some outstanding sound mixing and editing.

There is a lot going on in Civil War.  Its a big big movie, that even feels bigger than Age of Ultron because the personal stakes were so much higher.  A lot of films could have mismanaged something this long, loaded with characters and also such a big globetrotting story to tell.  The Russo’s manage to pull this off pretty well.  Its not masterpiece level because we can point out all this, but it works and ends with a hell of a finish.  Everything here works in its own way, its the connection and seguing into each act or sequence that might feel forced or disjointed at times.  But overall, this is a heck of jump for Marvel and an improvement over Age Of Ultron the previous Avengers film, while still maintaining and continuing the Captain America arc.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  Once again, no surprise, this film looks awesome on Blu-ray.  Details are really abundant, especially being able to take in someone like Black Panther’s costume in full detail and texture. You also get a real sense of the wear and tear on Captain America’s shield.  Crummy apartment complexes also bring out a lot of detail and insight of damage to walls and the like.  Its a top notch performance and really you should expect no less from the Mouse House and Avenger Headquarters.

Depth:  The film was obviously released in 3-D theatrically, but also has some great depth in really separating background and foreground imagery while keeping characters in the middle.  The Giant Man sequence and finale climbing up the shaft are two of the better examples of the 3 dimensional work at its best.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and bring a good sense of shading and richness to darker lit scenes, especially in the film’s finale. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Super heros in the Marvel world bring out some color, but obviously reds and blues take center stage in this production.  Everything holds enough vibrancy while maintaining a sort of lifelike used look.  Obviously Iron Man is a bit more flashy, but even Vision seems down to earth in appearance.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and stay consistent from scene to scene throughout the film. Some of the Winter Soldier flashbacks contain a green film over things. Facial details like stubble, wrinkles, makeup, moles, lip texture and the like are clear at any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  As per usual, summer blockbusters and primarily Marvel films from Disney are just top notch when it comes to delivering home theater sound.  This one gets at you in all directions with crisp, detail sound effects that full on get in your face and are captured with great accuracy and layering.  Score, effects and vocals are all woven in for a healthy balance.

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, Iron Man’s blasts, shield thumping, gun fire, engines rev’ing…any sort of carnage rumbles and bumps.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Every bit of the circular atmosphere in your room is put to use in this 7 channel mix. Battle scenes have things going on in all directions.  Ambiance in the finale is terrific as well.  Its awesome and why you have the 7 channels to begin with.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, crisp and clear. This is a loud, action packed movie and at all times you’re able to get a read on character’s dialogue cleanly and audibly.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • By Directors Anthony & Joe Russo and Screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Featurettes

  • United We Stand, Divided We Fall: The Making Of Captain America: Civil War (HD, Part 1-22:25, Part 2-23:18) – As long as this 2-part making of is, its rather basic, with entry level comic book knowledge and background. I have no idea why its in 2-parts. It generally just goes character by character and talks a little on their comic history, the actor who plays them and their role in the film’s story.  There are some behind-the-scenes and previsual footage in there too.
  • Captain America: The Road To Civil War (HD, 4:11) – With interviews from crew and cast, they talk about the first couple Captain America films and the characters’ drive.
  • Iron Man: The Road To Civil War (HD, 4:27) – Same as the other one, but with Iron Man
  • Open Your Mind: Marvel’s Doctor Strange: Exclusive Sneak Peek (HD, 4:02) – Some short snippets of interviews and stuff that I assume will wind up being more fleshed out for bonus features on the Doctor Strange Blu-ray.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 7:02)

Gag Reel (HD, 2:53) 

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Summary 

Disney once again brings the latest big Marvel film in the Avengers canon to Blu-ray both looking and sounding quite awesome.  Its as to be expected.  Unfortunately, as to be expected is the routine set of extras they provide here.  The commentary is a nice asset, but the featurettes, while totaling up about an hours’ worth, are utterly safe, generic and entry level stuff.  Nothing too complex, everybody praising everyone. To some, maybe they like that, but to me its boring and just static as its like every damn interview/featurette you see with these.  But, importantly, I’m here for the movie first, its both very good in terms of the film’s quality and the presentation on the disc.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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