FYI: There have been questions re: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. recaps. Short answer: Yeah, Season 3 ultimately got so tiresome I couldn’t bring myself to do write-ups of it anymore. However, with the season now concluded, I will be addressing that on the next installment of this series, tentatively arriving one week from today. Stay tuned 🙂

Cinemassacre vs Ghostbusters vs Internet

NOTE: This was originally written as the script for a video, but I decided it read better than it sounded performed. As ever, if you like what I do here, there’s a MovieBob Patreon for that. 

Alright. The Internet is all up in arms because of the below video wherein a guy who reviews movies says he’s not going to review the GHOSTBUSTERS remake mainly for nostalgia/”respect-the-original” reasons (and will instead do a “non-review” seemingly mostly about the failed attempts to make a proper GHOSTBUSTERS III over the years); and I find the fallout interesting because half the web is celebrating: “Hooray! Famous Internet Man has joined our anti-feminist witch-hunt!;” while the other half is scolding him over:“Boo! Famous Internet Man joined their anti-feminist witch-hunt.”

Meanwhile, the gender-flip business of the remake doesn’t really come up other than a factual acknowledgment thereof in the actual video, making it nicely illustrative of the tiresome way discussion of this movie has become proxy-vs-proxy and not about the movie at all… but also of who’s to blame for that tiresomeness in the first place (HINT: It ain’t the so-called “SJWs.”) Anyway, there’s the video, my take after the jump.

So. Background: James Rolfe, probably still best known as the Angry Video Game Nerd and pretty-much the INVENTOR of the whole “pop-culture rant” internet video genre, put out a video where he announced he was going to do some kind of vaguely-defined “non-review” tie-in video to the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS because it looks really bad and he resents the idea of remaking it in the first place and would thus rather not watch it.

Which… I totally understand and think is pretty valid. I mean, look – I’m a film critic by trade and I’m generally of the opinion that everyone critic or not should experience as many things as possible and that goes double for things you assume you yourself won’t like I assume we’ve all read GREEN EGGS & HAM and I don’t have to explain the logic behind that further. BUT! It’s also true that not everyone CAN see everything and if you really do think something looks so beyond your capacity for enjoyment or rational engagement then maybe it’s best left to others every once in awhile.

To be frank – short of “not gonna watch it” I have a hard time disagreeing with most of his basic premise (though I’d like to think I wouldn’t have said it was “good” that Harold Ramis didn’t get to see the movie – that’s a bit much.) GHOSTBUSTERS is one of those all-time classics that shouldn’t be remade even if remaking it well was possible which it isn’t because the making of GHOSTBUSTERS was one of those lightning-in-a-bottle scenarios that can’t happen twice and GHOSTBUSTERS II is the proof of that. The remake they HAVE made thus far looks and sounds terrible both conceptually and based on the trailers, everything about it makes me embarrassed for the very talented cast that’s been assembled to put it together. It’s a movie that probably never should have happened, stands almost no chance of being worthwhile and thus far doesn’t even look like it’ll be good enough to be a “whatever, next movie.” The last time a movie project looked THIS bad top-to-bottom before its release was BATMAN V SUPERMAN and just look how that monstrosity turned out.

And yeah, I COMPLETELY “get” resenting remakes of classics because – yes – while a remake doesn’t make the original “disappear” it does often inject a sour note into the cultural history of something (fairly or not) at least for a little while. See: Today, when you talk about ROBOCOP, you kinda have to specify that you mean the good one from the mid-80s and not that godawful piece of garbage from last year. Or when you talk about HALLOWEEN and have to point out that you mean the John Carpenter movie and not the Rob Zombie one. It’s not a huge problem or a major tragedy but it DOES kind of suck that unless this remake is itself an outright classic which – no, it won’t be – any discussion of GHOSTBUSTERS will now have to specify whether you mean the remake or the good one.

Now look, I’m not here to “defend” The Angry Nerd OR start some kind of debate over all this or even really to talk about his thing at all. And before somebody brings it up YES, I understand that he’s doing a “bit” and the whole “principled stand against a remake of a classic” thing feels like basically a clever promo for a what sounds like a video more about the history of the failure to make GHOSTBUSTERS 3 while it was still possible that he probably wanted to do anyway. I get it – self-promotion is the business, the business is what it is and he’s been doing it longer than almost any of us.

What I do think is worth noting is that the “discussion” that spilled out of this continues to be all about sexist assholes in fan-culture clearly being upset at this movie because they recast it with women… and the fact of that BARELY came up at all in Rolfe’s video. Now, look – full disclosure: I know this guy, not super well but we’ve worked with a lot of the same people, have done a few of the same events, I always admired his work, he’s always been a good guy to me, I have ZERO reason to believe he has some kind of issue with women and the fact that he doesn’t bring it up at all bares that out: I take him at what looks to be his word that this is about remaking classics and not about gender politics or whatever.

But what’s interesting and also depressing is… it doesn’t really MATTER, does it? The remake of GHOSTBUSTERS became a proxy battlefield for political posturing pretty-much the minute it was announced because that’s the world we live in now, and that’s always a frustrating phenomenon because it involves weighing two equally true facts against eachother – Fact #1 being that issues like feminism, progress, social-justice etc are, objectively, more important than whether or not a movie is good; but Fact #2 being that the only fair way to judge a work of art is based on its intrinsic merits and not which “side” of some bigger, more important argument its quality or lack thereof backs up.

This is partially why you haven’t heard ME really have anything substantively to say about the movie up to this point: Honestly, I was rooting for it to be good (and still hope it is even though all possible signs point to “no”) because inverting the character-genders raised a lot of genuinely interesting possibilities and almost seemed like a good enough reason to remake a classic in the first place. And as soon as the awful trailers and the awful everything else started to roll in, y’know… I felt physically sick over it because I realized what we were now in for:

The same pissed-off woman-hating assholes that ran roughshod over video-game fandom last year and this year have managed to (improbably) turn the otherwise well-intentioned Presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders (of all people!) into a fucking punchline are going to climb all over this movie sucking as ammunition for their bullshit cause, which means the GOOD people on the other side will either feel compelled to jump in and “defend” this or get sucked in otherwise because it becomes the new talking point of the moment.

And while that’s annoying on all fronts, I’m not trying to make a false equivalency here: I HATE the fact that we can’t have an honest back and forth about this or any other movie without having to think about whether or not what we say is going to get repurposed a weapon in a bullshit “culture war,” but I know who’s to blame for it – and it aint’ the so-called “SJWs.”: It’s the regressives and the trolls and fedora squad and the MRA/”meninist” right-wing internet collective that’s been banging on about this shit ever since they realized that the inexorable tide of cultural evolution is poised and ready to sweep them and their bullshit played-out reactionary worldview into the dumpster of societal-obsolesence.

Because guess what: The remakes of ROBOCOP and TOTAL RECALL *both* looked just as bad as the new GHOSTBUSTERS looks (and spoiler: they WERE exactly as awful as they looked) – but I don’t remember a year-long preemptive, pre-TRAILER hate campaign against those movies; so logically there’s obviously something else at play here – and while it’s true that Chris Hemsworth being in a movie where he’s NOT playing Thor is usually a bad sign… I kinda don’t think it’s that.

So… yeah. You think the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS looks terrible? I agree – it looks terrible. I just hope it doesn’t stop people from putting Leslie Jones Kate McKinnon in good movies because those are two funny fuckin’ people. You think it looks super-disrespectful to the legacy of one of the most important genre-comedies ever made? Yeah, I think that looks to the most-likely case. Don’t wanna watch it because of that? Fine – totally valid, you do you. But please, don’t you DARE insult either of our intelligences by trying to tell me that *most* of the super over-the-top mega-hatred that’s being trained on this project and RUINING any chance to have an honest discourse isn’t mainly coming from paranoid sexist assholes who think something is being “stolen” from them.

Egh… can we just get this over with? And by this, I mean can we just fast-forward to five years from now when we’ll be able to find out what everyone REALLY thought of this movie?

P.S. Since it’s relevant, my original “Really That Good” episode on the original GHOSTBUSTERS. For those wondering: RTG: “Superman: The Movie” is in-production and should be done soon, Yes, I am aware it took longer than I wanted it to. As ever, if you enjoy the work and want to encourage more, please consider The MovieBob Patreon.

Review: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)

Video Review Coming Soon. Enjoy this review? Please consider a contribution to The MovieBob Patreon.

Broken record time: There are plenty of pre-modern (read: prior to BATMAN BEGINS/IRON MAN) superhero movies that absolutely hold up. Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN is one. The 1978 SUPERMAN is one. BATMAN RETURNS… sort of. The first two BLADE movies, definitely – I know we’re only “supposed” to like BLADE II because of Guillermo del Toro, but the first one is totally serviceable.

But the X-MEN movies? No. They don’t hold up. Portions of them do: McKellan’s Magneto is a hell of a performance, Jackman as Wolverine was a great discovery, Patrick Stewart is… basically doing exactly what you expected, so it’s fine. Zeroing in on the gay-youth metaphor was a good idea. Sort-of-nude Mystique is iconic. X2 has a decent-ish screenplay, which helps alot. But taken as a whole? Only FIRST CLASS is a straight-up good movie, and THE WOLVERINE is 2/3rds of a good B-movie. The rest of them are varying degrees of straight-up bad (ORIGINS: WOLVERINE and X3 being the worst) – aesthetically ugly, blandly directed, filler-packed half-efforts of which X2 gets a pass because it’s screenplay is good enough and restricting 90% of the action to the X-Mansion, underlit hallways and… more underlit hallways helps disguise Bryan Singer’s inability to properly direct action sequences or really any sequence with more than one plane of action and more than three active characters.

(SPOILERS after the jump)

And look, I get it: For a moment there, this looked like the best we could’ve possibly hoped for, isolated scenes like Wolverine defending the Mansion and Iceman “coming out” to his parents are damn close to transcendent and seeing the Phoenix shape under the water was Nick Fury before Nick Fury. I was there, too, I understand. But I’ve also lived through the decade-plus hence with clear eyes, and apart from FIRST CLASS (again, the only good one) the only thing more disappointing in hindsight than the totality of the X-MEN movies is the whole idea of Bryan Singer being a major talent as opposed to an unspectacular point-and-shoot dramatist of what we used to call TV-level visual chops.

What I’m saying is: It’s okay to let this series go. I understand why we cling to it, but enough is enough. Propping up this franchise in 2016 is like unironically propping up HAWK THE SLAYER after LORD OF THE RINGS.

But whatever. Thanks to DEADPOOL we’re going to keep getting these now in one form or another, even as it begins to feel more and more like Fox intends to jog in place accomplishing nothing special (the next movie will apparently be set in the 90s to maintain whatever the nonsensical continuity is now) for the main series while they wait for Disney/Marvel to make them a Spidey-style shared custody offer; so it’s time to watch the surviving FIRST CLASS actors team up with the new baby-faced versions of the Parts 1-3 characters whose actors have aged out of the franchise for what amounts (in terms of actual plot) to a 2 1/2 hour explanation for why Professor Xavier went bald early. Riveting.

Any pleasures to be had amid this tedium are strictly of the ironic variety. Specifically: It’s enormous fun to watch poor Oscar Isaac (usually one of the most expressive and versatile actors working today) stomp around looking like a 1970s SUPER SENTAI villain in absurdly fake-looking prosthetic makeup and plastic armor (there isn’t a single prop, set, costume or makeup effect in the film that doesn’t look Schumacher-BATMAN-level phony) as Apocalypse, supposedly “The First Mutant” and our basis for various myths about gods and demons etc. Buried alive in Ancient Egypt, he wakes up in the alt-reality 1980s created by DAYS OF FUTURE PAST’s time-travel meddling and decides that humanity has fucked up the planet so bad that he needs to blow everything up and start over as Mutant God again; so he assembles a team consisting of Storm, Angel, Magento and newbie mutant Psylocke and supercharges their powers to help him kidnap Professor X so that he can hijack his mind-powers to find and manipulate every mutant on Earth at once because that’s exactly what the bad guys did in X2 and that was the last time anyone not named Matthew Vaughn made a good X-MEN movie.

Meanwhile, plot contrivances (and contractual obligations) bring Mystique (J-Law again, somehow affecting her most vacant, disinterested thousand-yard-stare yet) back to the Xavier School at the same relative time as the new Barely Legal versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler are all turning up along with still-mindwiped Moira MacTaggart, who wants help running down Apocalypse and Magneto – who’s evil again because he moved to Poland and tried to start a family and just guess how that ended up. It’s all just a lot of marking time until Apocalypse can show up and blow the school to smithereens, compelling Mystique to get over her resistance to heroism (young mutants now hero-worship “The Blue Woman” as a Che-style revolutionary icon that she wants no part of) and re-assemble The X-Men in order to rescue Charles and beat Apocalypse…

…but only after an insultingly-pointless, utterly unnecessary plot detour during which the main good guys are abducted by Baby General Stryker and whisked off to an underground facility exclusively so that they can bump into Hugh Jackman for about two minutes of bloodless Wolverine cameo-carnage and then promptly hurry back on their way to back to the main storyline. It’s as nakedly awkward as I’m making it sound, reeks of post-production interference and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out it was all created in reshoots – and yet, somehow, Wolverine still has more actual bearing on the plot than (Arch?)Angel, Storm and Psylocke; none of whom serve even a contrived purpose since Apocalypse’s big scheme is essentially: Super-Magneto destroys the world with Earthquakes.

On balance it’s not quite as disastrously bad as X3 and just about even with ORIGINS: WOLVERINE in terms of enthusiastically-boneheaded stupidity, to the point where it might even be “fun” after a fashion if Singer was a better director of spectacle or had the capacity to have genuine fun within the genre. Unfortunately, APOCALYPSE has clearly been designed with the aim of aping the structure/tone of the most-recent Marvel features – read: witty banter, elaborate fight sequences, Lucky Charms color-palette, a giant climactic fight scene in the middle of basically the whole damn world exploding into pixel showers in the background – which would make for a headache-inducing clash with Singer’s prevailing “sullen-Ambercrombie-models-looking-pouty” aesthetic that it likely wouldn’t have looked good if he could direct it properly – which he can’t.

It’s honestly shocking just how bad the “big” moments of the film look, particularly a third act mega-brawl set in a blown-to-bits Cairo. Outrageously poor green-screen compositing and lighting/lensing choices seemingly designed to highlight how fake everyone looks (poor Olivia Munn looks like she’s posing for an expensive-for-2002 cosplay shoot) would be forgivable with even a minimum of visual flourish, but the composite/soundstage/CGI mix is so stagey and basic that your average Sid & Marty Kroft show was overall more inventive about disguising their plate-shots. Fassbender’s Magneto, hovering unconvincingly amid swirling digital chaos, looks less like a Horseman of The Apocalypse than he does a badly-dressed many giving a TED Talk about advances in particle-FX animation.

In a moment that crystallizes the “soulless xerox of an MCU entry” sensibility intrinsic to the whole enterprise, the film opts to insert it’s requisite Stan Lee cameo not into the margins or a tension-relieving “funny” scene; but into one of the most (theoretically) dramatic moments possible – garaunteeing gufaws from the audience at one of the least opportune times. By the same token, since everybody (but me) made an obnoxiously big deal out of the Quicksilver slo-mo scene in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, we get two more of them here: One of which turns what should be a big deal plot point into a jokey “Ha! I remember that 80s song!” spotfest, the other of which serves to render him so overpowered it feels pointless to have any other X-Men around – even if everyone didn’t keep forgetting which powers they have until they need it for a specific beat.

The only question I end up having as all of this dull drivel winds down is whether or not having to follow one of the best recent superhero movies (CIVIL WAR) and one of the all-time worst (BATMAN V SUPERMAN) to theaters works out against the film or in its favor. I’m on record not believing in “superhero fatigue,” but X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is exactly the kind of movie that under the right circumstances could get me way down in the dumps about the genre – it’s not even bad enough to make for interesting “how did this abomination happen!?” discussion like BVS or FANT4STIC. There’s no mystery to how pointless, uninspired fare like this get’s made – or to why there’ll almost certainly be more of it before we’re through.

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This review is made possible in part through donations to The MovieBob Patreon. If you like what you see, please consider becoming a Patron.

(Full Text after the jump)

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Marvel makes a bad movie. I don’t mean as in “Hey, this isn’t as good as the first one!” or “This feels tonally at odds with the others and/or of lower stakes;” I mean an entry that actually outright kind of sucks – and I’m not counting the third season of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. even though, yeah, Season 3 does kind of suck overall. I mean at some point, just by the law of averages, one of these things is going to outright bad… and at this point I’m curious to know what that means, because my suspicion is that the answer is “not much.”

By now the Marvel machinery works so well that comparisons to Swiss watches are no longer adequate: The studio’s output is more like the water-cycle at this point, turning hype into engagement into narrative and back into hype so efficiently that it feels fully capable of processing a failure and moving on: If DOCTOR STRANGE turns out to not be good in November whatever new slivers of worldbuilding detail it contributes to the bigger picture will still be poured over in forgiveness-generating detail until GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 wins everyone back in May with SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING batting cleanup in July. Whenever the subject of “superhero fatigue” comes up, I continue to maintain that the I’m-tired-of-this/lets-take-a-break/oh-hey-a-new-one-I’m-reminded-why-I-like-this cycle that used to be a years-long process for genre movies now takes mere months and happened for Marvel in the brief interlude between AGE OF ULTRON and ANT-MAN.

I bring this up because among the surprises to be found in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is just how leisurely and self-assured it feels about its own existence. Despite the sensationalism of its basic setup (Friends becomes enemies! Superhero civics debate! The End of The Avengers!?) and the frenetic pace of its narrative, in terms of tone and self-regard it’s the most “lived-in” feeling blockbuster in recent memory – capable of thrilling and confidently carrying a two or three of the most satisfying setpieces the genre has ever managed to deliver up its sleeve like an emergency mood-booster, but secure to an almost zen-like state that A.) it has the goods and B.) even if it doesn’t have quite the goods it thinks it does, we’re not going to “turn” on the MCU now.

The result is that, while it could well be (on balance) the best Marvel movie since THE AVENGERS (and a more fitting thematic follow-up to that feature than its own sequel by a substantial measure) it’s also among the most deliberately-plotted and “comfy” installments in whole Marvel mega-franchise – the action movie equivalent of a hit TV show wheeling out the big guns for sweeps week secure (along with the audience) in the awareness that there’s still plenty of episodes to go before the finale.

That should be bizarre, given that the entire plot of the film is about (literally) blowing the status quo of the MCU’s central narrative hub to smithereens, but it makes sense given the degree of investment expected of the audience for all that “blowing up” to matter: We care because we love these characters and their world, we love these characters and their world because we’ve gotten to know them over more than a dozen prior films, because we love them and their world we know there will be many dozens of films to come – so, for a change, even though the action is big as ever the actual stakes are comparatively small and intimate: The world doesn’t need to be ending and it’s pointless to pretend that the MCU storyline could “finish” here, so instead lets enjoy watching our favorite characters work out some issues, develop some new dimensions and occasionally set off some new fireworks. In fact, without giving too much away, this is the first film in awhile where the mystery of what’s “really” driving an escalating series of small, personal grievances turns out to be… A smaller, even more personal grievance.

The plot you already know from the ubiquitous trailers: Something goes wrong during a routine Avengers mission that leads to collateral damage and takes the already faded bloom off the rose of having superheroes running around unchecked with enough of the global public that the U.N. steps in to force Captain America and company to become a regulated outfit. Some say yes, others say no, Cap’s “no” becomes more emphatic when a terrorist strike during the signing of the new deal is blamed on The Winter Soldier – aka Cap’s brainwashed ex-HYDRA cyborg assassin bestie Bucky Barnes – and he (after being convinced of his friend is innocent and something more sinister is afoot) goes rogue to hunt for the real culprit. Complicating matters further, one of the U.N. signatories killed in the attack was the King of the secretive African nation of Wakanda; whose son has now donned the ceremonial battle-armor of The Black Panther in order to hunt down and kill The Winter Soldier himself.

The big question mark hovering over the film from the beginning has been whether or not this was the point where the overriding commitment to a shared universe would overwhelm the individual storyline: Sure, it’s nice to see the cast hanging around and not having to wonder where all the other heroes went during a solo movie; but are we getting the “lite” version of an AVENGERS sequel at the expense of a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie?

Luckily, the answer turns out to be… it can be both: This is definitely CAPTAIN AMERICA 3 – and, more importantly, the direct continuation of the WINTER SOLDIER storyline – but since Captain America LIVES in Avengers Headquarters and the other Avengers comprise about 99% of his known social circle it really can’t help but also be an AVENGERS movie. And with that aforementioned leisurely confidence in place, CIVIL WAR wisely opts to take some of that well-earned audience goodwill and spend it on fleshing-out the character stuff that’s been driving these movies from the beginning: So Vision and Scarlet Witch get some character development, Falcon and War Machine get to voice their opinions about the way their more prominent allies conduct business, Black Widow gets to be morally-complicated on a more than superficial level… hell, Black Panther get’s an entire introductory character arc two years in advance of his own movie!

(Seriously – I’m really curious what the BLACK PANTHER movie is going to be about now that a version of the story you’d kind of expect them to tell in the first BLACK PANTHER movie has now already been told in background of this one.)

And yes – especially in the second act – it does start to feel like the proper AVENGERS sequel that AGE OF ULTRON never quite managed to be, if for no other reason than it’s as strongly a movie about a team falling apart as that first film was about a team coming together. But once the plot heads into its conclusion and the full scope and purpose of the narrative is laid bare, it becomes extremely clear that CIVIL WAR is fundamentally Captain America’s movie above all else – in as much as the thematic core is all about the push-pull of doing what you want emotionally versus doing what’s right and he’s the Avenger that embodies that inner conflict moreso than anyone else in the franchise.

The narrative arc they wring out of that, where it’s completely understandable that the other characters are more than a little skeptical that Cap’s thinking clearly when he decides to basically fight the entire rest of the world in order to clear his friend’s name, is legitimately fascinating to watch play out in such surprisingly complex terms; and instead of hogging the spotlight as many had feared Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man turns out to be a perfectly-chosen mirror-opposite to the same arc: Sure, he seems to be doing what he thinks is right; but it’s also clear that retirement not really working out and no longer having any Avenging to fall back on is letting his personal demons consume him all over again. And the dynamics at play that allow the pair to maintain their ideological “sides” while gradually trading places in terms of the attitude is a such a strange but interesting way to construct an emotional narrative I can’t help but admire it.

The strength of all that heart-on-sleeve operatic emotionality is why I’m having a hard time settling on whether or not this or WINTER SOLDIER is actually the better movie. It’d be hard to argue that SOLDIER was the more rigidly coherent and polished work in terms of structure, but CIVIL WAR is substantially more satisfying from a “pure cinema” perspective: There are some pretty hard to ignore logical leaps a play – mainly in that the entire scenario hinges on someone being able to both manipulate and predict the exact actions of dozens of individuals and entire national governments without really explaining how said someone was able to do – so but the payoff is SO strong and hits SO hard it’s genuinely hard to care… and also, yeah, because it’s a Marvel movie and by now we’ve all been trained to give that sort of thing the benefit of the doubt since three movies from now it’ll probably turn he had a magic rock or something.

But yeah – it’s a superhero movie, but it’s practically structured like the macho-melodrama version of a MARX BROS comedy: The storyline is “there” but it’s largely incidental to the true purpose of creating scenarios for the characters to literally figuratively “bounce off” of one another: So if it’ll help remind everyone just how natural it is for people in this universe trip over themselves for the chance to fight alongside Captain America and having Ant-Man show up will do that? Then you do that. And if it’ll add some necessary complexity to Tony Stark’s storyline to have him help out an underprivileged teenager and that gives you an opportunity to introduce Spider-Man to everybody? Then you do that, too. And that means you’ve got two more dynamic characters for a big show-stopping end of Act 2 blowout where everyone vents their long-simmering frustrations with one another and since they’re all varying degrees of super-powered godlings it escalates into one of the most ridiculous yet amazing action sequences ever put to film – and yes, it’s as awesome and worth the price all on its own as you’ve heard.

But however cool it all is, what sticks around and satisfies about CIVIL WAR is the emotion-driven character work that the action scenes ultimately exist to facilitate and underline – which is why it’s hard to find fault with the actual plot being kind of a superfluous shell game: By the time the big all-cards-on-the-table finale has rolled around we find – even as the mysteries have all been solved, the cause of the superhero Civil War has been identified and the narrative reasons behind the fighting have ceased – the fighting isn’t over because the dark secrets, deep-seated character flaws and furious emotional pain involved have transcended the plot-mechanics that brought them to the surface in the first place; and sometimes things like that don’t just “go away” because the inciting disaster has averted. When was the last time that was the moral of a “serious” or “grownup” movie – let alone a movie where freakin’ Ant-Man is a featured player?

And what’s most impressive of all, from a broader cultural standpoint, is that while it’s a given that the smug set will be all too happy to hand CIVIL WAR the backhanded compliment of having accomplished all this “in spite of being just another Marvel movie;” the fact is the weird, risky, offbeat, atypical stuff that makes the film work is largely only possible because Marvel has created a cultural zeitgeist for CIVIL WAR to inhabit. You simply couldn’t have a character-driven movie in this genre with this dense of an emotional narrative if so much work hadn’t already been done establishing these characters and their world in the first place: What starts as a geopolitical conflict of high-minded hypotheticals narrows down into an extended-family schism among a dozen or so ideological standard bearers and then compresses all the way down to an intensely personal brawl where it’s genuinely, viscerally difficult to root completely for (or against) either side.

That’s an impressive feat of storytelling in any genre; and while I’m not 100% convinced that CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is itself the best film the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced, it’s far and away the best example of why it was worth constructing in the first place – and why it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

P.S. In case you were wondering: Tom Holland is fantastic… but I feel like Tobey Maguire is still going to be the best Spider-Man. That being said, I’m increasingly of the mind that the Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN probably needs to go on the shelf with the Richard Donner SUPERMAN i.e. “Yes, these will never be equaled and you can’t keep marking down every subsequent attempt for not living up to unattainable miracles.” The new SPIDER-MAN works and I think HOMECOMING is in good hands.

This review is made possible in part through donations to The MovieBob Patreon. If you like what you see, please consider becoming a Patron.

Catching Up 5/4/2016

Hey! Did you notice I’ve been a little quiet on this website the last few weeks? Well, it’s because big things* have been in the works. Two of which can now be read up on ScreenRant:

Sure, you’ve probably read through the “which order to watch the Marvel Movies in” lists, and you’ve probably done your refresher-course work to get ready for CIVIL WAR (review forthcoming, incidentally) – but have you ever wanted to be able to look at a chronological breakdown of every event depicted in the MCU movies starting with the beginning of the Universe (as in The Big Bang) right up to this very week, including the events of the Netflix series and AGENTS OF S.H.I.EL.D.? Well, now you can. The (tentative) plan is to update it as new information becomes available, so bookmark it now if you want to – either way, enjoy!

Exactly what it says on the label. Sometimes work is hard, sometimes work is hard but you’re getting paid to explain how Comet The Superhorse works.

*Yes, the long-awaited REALLY THAT GOOD: SUPERMAN is in fact one of those big things. It’s on the way, and I thank you for your patience. As ever, both speeding me up and keeping me afloat period are functions of The MovieBob Patreon 🙂