Captain America: Civil War
- Street Date:
- September 13th, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Aaron Peck
- Review Date: 1
- September 9th, 2016
- Movie Release Year:
- Disney/Buena Vista
- 147 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
While one wonders why, for heaven's sake, the Russo brothers don't invest in a Steadicam – 'Captain America: Civil War' happens to be a fairly agreeable way to pass the time. The Avengers assemble yet again, only to divide among stark political ideologies. Holy crap! 'Civil War' is a microcosm of the divisive political climate of our nation.
An 'Avengers' movie by another name, 'Civil War' might even feature more Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) than Cap, but that's a chore for someone with a stopwatch and time to kill. Here Captain America (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark come face to face with the very real collateral damage they unwittingly spread as superheroes. This is something that DC's new universe is still trying to understand, which was evident in the insipid way 'Batman v Superman' dealt with it. The whole reason why Batman and Superman were fighting still seemed an afterthought.
Superhero films have always suffered from a glut of visual chaos. A seemingly endless line of buildings to knock over like dominoes while the heroes vanquish aliens or monsters. 'Civil War' finally finds a coherent thread of anguish that has been missing from superhero movies of the past. Cap, Iron Man, and company have laid waste to large metropolitan areas without a second thought for public property or incidental civilian deaths. Many of these movies simply skirt this issue by ignoring the fleeing plebes altogether. If all the focus is on the smash-smash-boom-boom, we'll likely forget about the real powerless people likely being crushed by hunks of falling cement and steel.
'Civil War' decides to thoughtfully call into question the tactics of superheroes, their mindsets, their egos, and their lack of oversight. When faced with possible UN sanctions, after a litany of catastrophic escapades Cap and Tony don't see eye to eye. Cap likes the free-wheeling lifestyle. The go-anywhere-bash-anyone old-school type of hero life, whereas Tony is set on accepting the UN's conditions. He believes they should have oversight, that they should answer to someone, and that there should be public transparency in their dealings with the world's citizens.
While these kind of ideas have been brought up in superhero movies before, 'Civil War' appreciates it better than most. It understands its characters and allows them room to slightly depart from toeing the predictable superhero line.
Added in for even more ideological flavor is newcomer Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) – the Black Panther – who just seems to get it. He has a character arc that is satisfying, yet understated. Another aspect of 'Civil War' that felt fresh and inventive was introducing the villain Zemo (Daniel Brühl) who doesn't possess any superpowers. His path as the movie's main bad guy leads us to thinking one thing about him, only to throw us for a complete loop by movie's end. Zemo is a well-written, well-executed antagonist who doesn't exactly meet all the qualifications you'd think a super-villain should meet.
Also, I'm just going to throw this out there apropos of nothing: Paul Rudd steals this movie with his effortless charm. He just pulls the rug right out from under Evans and Downey. It's great.
As far as filmmaking goes, the Russo brothers pack a lot of action into very little space. The airport set piece, which is featured all over the movie's trailers, is quite something to behold. And still, the Russo brothers lend themselves to slapdash action scenes that would shine if they were given the least bit of camera steadiness. There's one scene, where Cap and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are fighting Iron Man. The camera is set back a few feet and it just sits there, motionless, as Cap and his best friend take turns pummeling Iron Man. It's an expertly choreographed sequence that makes you wonder how great the movie could be had every hand-to-hand combat scene been filmed similarly.
When considering the entire catalogue of Marvel movies, which should probably be viewed as a very expensive television series, 'Civil War' provides the most theoretical substance. It's not necessarily deep or moving, but at least it's trying to say something rather than just destroying cities while quipping.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The 2D release of 'Civil War' provides a single 50GB Blu-ray. It comes in a standard keepcase with a slipcover.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
As you'd expect, the video transfer here is top-notch. Disney's 1080p presentation is flawless. It's demo material.
Detail is constantly arresting. Close-ups feature all kinds of awesome detailing on individual superhero suits (Black Panther's is especially cool). Mid- and long-range shots are just as impressive. Wherever the camera is set it pulls in a wealth of visual information, which is in turn relayed as picturesque images on screen.
Colors are bright and bold. Contrast is on point. The image has depth. It never looks flat or uninspired. Special effects are expertly crafted as to never be called out as unrealistic or silly as a result of the high definition. Blacks are deep. Shadows have great depth. Crushing is never an issue. Aliasing is never seen. Banding is non-existent. It's an all-around great presentation.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Here is something you might not expect, 'Civil War' does not feature a demo-worthy audio mix. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is solid enough, but there's something up with the mixing here that leaves it slightly underwhelming. Sad to say, but it suffers from the same softness that Disney's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' suffered from.
Large action scenes with gigantic explosions struggle to find resonance. This is one of those movies that you'll find yourself turning up far past your normal listening volume. It's the low-end frequencies that really suffer. There are so many scenes here where you'd expect the walls to be rattling, yet they don't. For comparison, I listened to this at the same volume level that causes discs like 'Godzilla' or 'John Wick' to absolutely shake my entire house. However, with 'Civil War' these action scenes just never packed the oomph I was expecting. They didn't feel the same as they did in the theater. Not by a long shot.
Technically, it's proficient. Surround sound channels are filled with pinpoint ambiance. Panning effects – like helicopters flying around the sound field – transition seamlessly from one channel to another. Dialogue is clear. It's just that the entire mix lacks the sort of punch you'd expect from a movie of this ilk. It definitely feels like less than what it could be.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Audio Commentary – Directors Anthony and Joe Russo are joined by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Overall, it's an informative track that covers the basics of what it was like filming a movie with this many characters, the plot, how it fits in with Marvel's plans, and so on.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall -- The Making of 'Captain America: Civil War' (HD, 46 min.) – This is an extensive, two-part making-of feature. The first part has discussions about the source material with cast and crew, an overview about all the characters that appear in the movie, stunts, filming locations, and more. The second part discusses more characters in depth like Vision, Black Panther, and Spider-Man.
Captain America: The Road to Civil War (HD, 4 min.) – A deeper look at the character Captain America has become in this movie.
Iron Man: The Road to Civil War (HD, 4 min.) – A featurette that mirrors that of the one above, but this time highlighting Iron Man's role.
Open Your Mind: Marvel's Doctor Strange – Sneak Peak (HD, 4 min.) – A promo reel for Marvel's next movie that comes out this fall.
Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 8 min) – There four deleted or extended scenes included here. The longest one is an extended funeral scene for Peggy Carter, which is worth a watch. The other three are less than a minute each and don't hold much intrest.
Gag Reel (HD, 2 min.) – A standard gag reel.
'Civil War' can be a thoughtful movie. It's weird to say that about a superhero movie. It's true though. So many superhero movies just gloss over collateral damage. 'Civil War' tries to at least tackle the issue. It's simply something I'm not used to seeing superhero movies do. The video looks great, but the audio is a little disappointing. When you buy this you're expecting a demo-quality disc and this mix just doesn't deliver on that promise. For that reason it's only lightly recommended.
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- English SDH, French, Spanish
- United We Stand, Divided We Fall – The Making of Captain America: Civil War Part 1 & Part 2 – As the tension mounts, sides are chosen and lines drawn. Learn more about the characters on each side—from Captain America and Iron Man to the latest recruits. In this complete behind-the-scenes look at a landmark in the Marvel saga, we’ll examine their stories through exclusive footage and interviews and discover just what went into selecting the Super Hero teams, filming the epic action sequences and introducing Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU.
- Captain America: The Road to Civil War – Explore the First Avenger’s fascinating evolution from loyal soldier to seasoned, conflicted hero who questions authority.
- Iron Man: The Road to Civil War – From Gulmira to Sokovia, delve into the development and evolution of one of the most iconic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Gag Reel – Break the tension of this high-stakes conflict with some hilarious outtakes featuring the lighter side of your favorite Super Heroes.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – Check out never-before-seen footage that didn’t make the final cut of “Captain America: Civil War.”
- Audio Commentary – Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely deliver scene-by-scene insight and explain the storytelling challenges they faced creating the third installment of the Captain America franchise.
- Open Your Mind: Marvel’s Doctor Strange - Exclusive Sneak Peek – Go behind and beyond the scenes as Doctor Strange makes his journey to the big screen.
All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More
about our gear.
Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.