Movie: Captain America, Civil War

"Captain America: Civil War"

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps-one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

When I watched The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was a little underwhelmed. Although I did enjoy watching the film, I had notes throughout on what I would’ve have done (storytelling-wise) that could have made the film better. But, now that I’ve had a few months to have some perspective on how I felt about the film, I understand that I was coming from a place of high expectations. The first Avengers film struck me speechless, and I was expecting the same for Age of Ultron. That was unfair. So when I first saw the trailer for Captain America: Civil War, I told myself to manage my expectations.

The Captain America films has been my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The First Avenger was an amazing film that perfectly told the story of the classic Captain America and made it palatable to modern viewers. The Winter Soldier topped that by twisting expectations, and delivering the most non-superhero film that starred a superhero. In both films, the cast of characters had been manageable. There were only a handful, and each one of them played an integral part in telling the story. And then here comes Civil War with the problem that truly plagued the second Avengers film: an overly large cast with rich stories that remain untapped. Each one bursting to tell their own journey.

Civil War served them all well, without forgetting the fact that this is a Captain America film. That this closes his trilogy.

And what a closer it is. (Seriously. The film’s last shot? Not counting the after credits? It gave me goosebumps.)

I don’t know how many times my jaw dropped watching this film. The fears and questions I had while watching the trailer were all explained away, and most of the stuff that internet people have been concerned about made a lot of sense for me. As the credits rolled, all I could think of was this: I didn’t have to manage my expectations at all. Because while Civil War is no Winter Soldier, the film is still a solid Captain America film. And that is what’s important, right?

Civil War has more superheroes than either one of the Avengers films, but each one plays out their part and stays in their lane. A few breakout as scene-stealers, but none of them steals the movie from Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan. Not even Robert Downey Jr., who tones down his Tony Stark to give his most somber portrayal of the character since he was first handed the iron helmet. And it works.

Everything works.

There have been a lot of reports that it’s Spider-Man who people will remember from watching this film, but I disagree. Spider-Man is set-up wonderfully, yes. Tom Holland does give a nuanced take that balances the drama of Tobey Maguire’s version with the levity of Andrew Garfield’s take on the hero. But this is not his film to steal. He serves a purpose, and one of his scenes actually underlines the movie’s theme without being blatant about it. His scenes still pushes the Captain America story forward, while providing a break from the film’s serious tone. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely still leaves Spider-Man’s story to whoever will be writing the webslinger’s own film.

As they do for the Blank Panther who makes quite the splashy entrance, and yet doesn’t overpower the strengths of the other characters.

The writers and directors Anthony and Joe Russo must be commended on using characters that haven’t been established yet to further the plot, without making the plot about them. They serve their purpose, but their own stories are purposely left out for their own films, without making moviegoers feel like they were shortchanged with these characters.

And I love how they use the absence of certain characters to push the story even further, to make the characters more three-dimensional.

But the best part of the film is how the number of superheroes isn’t overwhelming. Which… If these are the people working on the next two Avengers films? I think we can all rest easy, because we’re in good hands.

Captain America opens today in the Philippines. And I would like to thank my friend Chris Cantada for inviting me to the premiere of the film last Monday, April 25.

And, obviously, I didn’t get into the nitty gritty details of the film. I keep having to check myself that I’m not dropping spoilers by accident. But, if you’ve already seen the film and want to discuss it with me, hit me up in the comments. (This also serves as a warning to other readers to not read the comments section, if you don’t want to be spoiled.)


Movie: Iron Man 3

"Iron Man 3"

Marvel’s Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?(c) Disney

Oh. My. God.

That seems to be a fitting reaction to Iron Man 3. Seriously. Watch it. Then see if that can be your reaction too. And no, that wasn’t the first thing that came to mind while the credits started rolling, but there were certain circumstances that, well, I’d rather not get into. Oh my God is what I’m feeling right now though, some twenty minutes after seeing the tag scene.

Seriously. The movie was epic.

Now, going back a bit, I enjoyed the first Iron Man film. Immensely. I thought it was perfect. But I wasn’t a fan of the sequel. It was a good summer film, sure, but it just wasn’t up to par with the first film. It felt a little unnecessary. And Tony Stark, let’s admit, is way too powerful to be a hero we can root for, and most of the things he was going through were a little, well, shallow.

It’s not a surprise that I’m a little hesitant with the third film. Iron Man, as we saw in the Avengers film, is even more invincible. He’s done so much more with his suits. What can the people behind Iron Man 3 do to make Tony Stark relatable again? How can we root for him again?

Well, the people behind Iron Man 3 certainly knew how.

I think I can safely say that this is the best out of the three Iron Man movies. Hands down. There’s something about Robert Downey Jr.’s acting that really draws you in deeper into Tony Stark’s dilemmas, and Gwyneth Paltrow is just–let’s just say that Pepper Potts remains as my favorite Marvel movie-verse female protagonist.

The movie actually spoils its end-twist from the get go, but the journey that takes us to the reveal is filled with many awesome moments. None of the characters feel tacked on, and everyone is doing something to propel the story forward without it feeling forced. Because, let’s be honest, no one expects Iron Man 3 to be a study on character and the superhero psyche. Though, it does do that a little.

The movie is action after action after action, but it’s the in-between scenes that really make this a really good, and a really memorable movie.

And I really want to talk more about the film, but I fear that I might spoil things that I shouldn’t.

Let me just say this: I want to watch it again. And to those who are apprehensive about the hype: Bloat your expectations. The movie is that awesome.

Now, who wants to discuss the film with me?