Saturday, May 7, 2016

Captain America: Civil War Review - Fun But Mediocre

Welcome back. Last time I reviewed a movie it was Batman v Superman, the story of how a rich man with daddy issues fights an All-American icon on whether or not super-powered beings should be allowed to be free agents or be brought to heel, all the while a guy who definitely isn't German throws gasoline on the fire of discontent, and several sequels are set up. Oh boy...

All joking aside, I did review this movie before. Four weeks ago. Civil War is, while in actual plot very different, it is surprisingly similar to BvS in terms of concept. Things differ, of course, but in concept both movies are very similar. After a botched heroing job by the Avengers, the UN, supported by Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk movie, Tony Stark, and the nation of Wakanda, wants to introduce legislation to bring the Avengers under UN control. First strike against this movie: it implies that any nation on Earth is actually doing more than just humor the UN. But okay, we accept spandexed wall crawlers and rich people giving away free college tuition like a libertarian's wet dream, so I think we can accept that. Two teams form, one around Iron Man, who is for the registration, having been guilted into it by the mom of someone who died in Age of Ultron, and one opposing registration, led by Captain America, who is against it because he has already read the rest of the script. At the ratification ceremony which somehow takes places in Zurich instead of New York, because the UN moved their headquarters for reasons(?), a bomb is set off by what appears to be Bucky Barnes, killing several people, among them King What's-his-face, aka Black Panther's dad. 
Now on the run, Cap jumps to the defense of Bucky Barnes, eventually leading to them killing and maiming German law enforcement like it's 1945. From then on it's all out war between Iron Man's and Cap's sides. You might even say, a Civil War...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Batman v Superman Was 30 Minutes Too Long and 30 Minutes Too Short: A Few Words On Movie Length

Obligatory thumbnail. We'll get back to it later in this article.

We've talked about this before on the podcast, but I have believed for a number of years now that Hollywood blockbusters have gotten too long. 

This occurs to me every single time in the theater and mainly because at around the two hour mark or so my thoughts shift from whether or not I agree with Captain America or Iron Man on whether or not the Avengers should be accountable to the public, to "oh my god, when's the next lull filler scene happening so I can take a pee break". On this note a very warm thank you to Batman v Superman for including a scene with Kevin Costner so I knew when to take that break. 

I would like to thank 30 seconds in Picasa for this.

Shakespeare's old idiom on brevity being the soul of wit is something I often find myself agreeing with and echoing whenever I talk about long movies. Length certainly has become a problem in big action movies, mainly for reasons of value. That's why books are also often encouraged to elongate their narrative to reach a certain amount of pages so that the reader can feel a certain sense of value for money per hour spent. With ticket prices now having averaged out at ten Dollars or Euros, people are feeling a certain sense of value from a long movie. Makes sense, after all, why spend ten Dollars on a two hour movie when you can spend it on a two and a half hour movie? But often these movies are not elongated in a way that I appreciate: instead of making the central conflict a bit meatier (or tofuier depending on your dietary habits) and deepening the intellectual implications of the central conflict between, say Batman and Superman, or Iron Man and Captain America, the movies tend to get lengthened with action scenes. Action scenes are all nice and good, who doesn't like some pulse pounding battle scenes after all? Flashy lights and the fitting sound on a 4K Cinema Display and Dolby 7.1 System sound pretty great, right? Yes, but after a certain point it can start to feel exhausting. Be it sensory overload or repetition, eventually an action scene can outstay it's welcome. For me, action scenes have become the great sin of superhero comics. A book already short in monthly installations often breaks it's interesting narrative and character interactions, it's very plot, for a fight scene that is often two pages too long, and even though a movie and a comic are different mediums, the idea is the same: padding.