Review Roundup - Red vs Blue


The Marvel mega franchise is in a strange place coming off titles like Ant-Man, Age of Ultron and The Winter Soldier. Can you make a sequel to the latter and include elements of all the others without it falling to pieces? After all the tone of each isn't exactly a great fit, it's the challenge they face making this latest instalment. With the release line up they have scheduled the problem is only going to grow from what I can see. But with returning film makers at the helm I expected a certain sense of continuity. There are interesting conflicts to be explored and a wealth of returning characters to choose from, so they also have the issue of bloated running times and convoluted screenplays to consider. Have the Russo Brothers managed to pull all this together successfully or is this a potential sign that things are coming apart at the seams?

Civil War is a long movie. But that's to be expected when the character roster is starting to look like the kind of selection you'd see in one of Capcom's beat-em-up games which have included many of the same faces. But while the cast is overflowing at times they do at least each have moments to shine, even if it's during the action; and the main players are given enough development along the way. Considering the title of the film they do end up giving more time to Tony Stark as things progress, but it's worthwhile and provides enough drama to keep things moving. Old characters are kept from becoming stale and new challengers keep the mix interesting. There are a few sequel baiting moments but nothing comes across as obnoxious.

While the conspiracy thriller material of The Winter Soldier is still clinging on here, the main thrust of the plot involves taking responsibility for the kinds of third act destruction seen in the previous adventures, as well as blockbusters in general. We've probably all wondered who cleans up the rubble after the credits roll, and the answers to that question allow for plenty of weight and some surprisingly dark moments. Should governing agencies be allowed to direct Iron-Man and friends to prevent unnecessary collateral damage, or should doing the right thing speak for itself? The question becomes less relevant as things develop but it's an engaging theme. As egos clash and heroes are divided the storyline starts to add more elements which do at times make it feel overly tangled, but personal hubris is the other side to the film which at least allows some focus.

As a superhero spectacle however the film certainly delivers, and the much publicised airport stand off between new and old Avengers offers some of the best comic book moments in the franchise. It's colourful and eye popping, as well as allowing for a lot of levity. Elsewhere the makers continue the Jason Bourne style chases and hand to hand combat which worked so well in Steve Rogers' last outing. But that question of consistency remains, and I have to say because of this it's not as good as that sequel which had a tighter grip on the amount of grit and the overall pacing. In a way it makes this the best Avengers movie, if not the best Captain America story. The juggling act between jovial Ant-Man moments and the central ideas of revenge, guilt and responsibility does effect the overall sense of congruity but it still manages to achieve a certain weight and direction perhaps lacking in Age of Ultron. For those high tier comic adventure thrills and a couple of real magic moments, give it a shot.