This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Locke.’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I’m gonna say it – I liked Batman v Superman better. I know you’re rolling your eyes right now but both films effectively tackle the same plot (basically every modern comic ever has this plot for some reason, because who thinks superheroes should be fun, right?) and along with it it brings all of the same problems. Civil War is bloated, convoluted, baggy and completely overstays its welcome, reducing Captain America to a mostly irrelevant bit part in the background somewhere of his own movie, which is likely to infuriate his fans, given that individually MCU's realisation of his character has probably been their greatest creative success.
There are going to be moments that please fans, too though, don’t get me wrong. While seeing Cap get shafted is annoying, very few of the MCU roster so far have proven they can actually carry a movie on their own and some might say it’s a blessing then that they basically have the whole band together – well sans Thor and Hulk, replaced with a bland Black Panther, a fantastic Spider-Man and plenty of fun call ups. Their dynamic is pretty much what the MCU lives and dies on the back of and there are plenty of moments here to keep this franchise in motion, those little pockets of intimacy between all the rock ‘em sock ‘em crash bang CG which are always just so good. This also leads them into the “money sequence” which isn’t quite on the level of Zack Snyder’s Doomsday battle, but it’s pretty damn close, as it sees Team Cap and Team Stark throw down with Ant-Man and Spider-Man effectively stealing the whole damn show. It’s just a shame that it is even less earned than when Batman and Superman fight.
You see, that is kinda the problem with Civil War really. There just isn’t a lot to it despite how important it is to the wider MCU, no MCU movie has felt more like a middle of the season TV episode than this one does. Almost impressive really that a film so politically charged could have such a large amount of nothing to say, no real story, no real drama or tension, just plenty of contrived plotting and convoluted storytelling to try and distract the audience from the fact that really they are doing things here they haven’t earned, or if they have, they aren’t booking it in a way that makes it feel like a logical progression as they hurry from each crash into the next wallop.
It’s also probably worth a note as well that the film feels almost impressively shoddy for Marvel’s big summer offering, as if the film has saved 90% of its budget for THAT one big sequence which is comparatively so polished it feels like we’ve dropped into a completely different, much better movie. What this basically means is the film becomes a one sequence movie, there is plenty of action outside of that sequence but those scenes are usually so poorly edited – this film has some of the most glaringly terrible editing I’ve ever seen from a big blockbuster film – and filmed – seriously, it feels at time like shots are just chucked in at random. Someone described the fights like a collection of gifs and once you see it, you can’t unsee it – that it becomes this chaotic, incoherent, hard to follow mess of clumsy choreography, crummy blocking and bad special effects. Is this an MCU movie or some cosplayers in their garden with a handicam? Hats off though to all the wrestling moves they managed to squeeze into the choreography.
Bottom Line? While some may say I'm being unfair for being harsher on Civil War than I was on Batman V Superman for very similar things, it's all about context. Batman V Supermanis eight years behind and had none of the set up this movie had, so what Batman V Superman was doing was to an extent a necessary evil. Here, it's just bad storytelling. The film isn't a complete failure, no one does soap opera superheroes quite like the MCU and seeing Team Cap and Team Stark finally throw down is one of those sequences which is likely to be worth the price of admission for many. But overall? Batman V Superman simply did it better, for me.