CGB Collaboration Review of Captain America: Civil War with Pro-Life Activist Clinton Wilcox of the Life Training Institute

Captain America v. Iron Man…which side shall you choose?

This is my collaboration review of Captain America: Civil War!

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After a mission in Lagos, Nigeria results in a slew of collateral damage, the Avengers find themselves facing the possibility of being controlled by a UN-appointed governing body.  When Captain America’s childhood friend Bucky Barnes (who [SPOILER] was the Winter Soldier in Cap’s last adventure) is framed as a suspect of an attack on the United Nations, Cap chooses to stand by his friend and pays the price when the Avengers is divided over his decision.

This is the third collaboration here on Catholic Girl Bloggin’!  Today I will be joined by pro-life activist Clinton Wilcox.  His Hits and Misses will be in green and mine will be in pink.

CGB Hits
Going into this movie, I was truly scared that Captain America’s noble nature would be compromised in this installment.  After watching Winter Soldier with my friends, I couldn’t gushing about Captain America’s strong sense of morality.  That is when one of my friends, who I will call “M.P.” turned to me and said, “Let’s see how you feel after Civil War.” “Aww, don’t do that to me, M.P.!”
I am delighted to say that Cap comes out of this adventure with his principles intact.  This character is such an honorable warrior!  I love how he plants his feet firmly on the side of truth and never backs down when faced with fierce opposition.  Once he makes a decision on a moral issue (such as helping Bucky instead of condemning him), there is no swaying him from his convictions.  He remains the moral voice and emotional center all while never becoming a bland archetype.  I said it in my Winter Soldier review and I will say it again: Captain America is a hero you can believe in!  🙂

I was not expecting the Black Panther to be such a show-stealer.  I will admit that his costume is kind of terrifying mainly because the headpiece covers his whole face, as well as his incredible speed.  I would not want to be caught in a fight with this guy!  This makes him an invaluable addition to the Avengers team.
Spider Man is absolutely adorable!  I like how he’s a believable kid character; awkward without being annoying, fumbling and wise-cracking while being skilled in his Spidey abilities.  Also, this Star Wars fangirl would like to award Spidey twenty CGB brownie points for his AMAZING Empire Strikes Back reference!  😀
In my first collaboration review, which was of Batman v. Superman with Patheos blogger Monique Ocampo, one of my many grievances with that flick is how they completely botched the rivalry between the Caped Crusader and the Son of Krypton.  Here the ideological differences between Captain America and Iron Man are well-conveyed.   Yes, the movie does definitely lean heavily in Cap’s camp, but there is emphasis on Iron Man’s perspective on the situation they face.

Clinton’s Hits
Civil War really feels like two movies. It’s Captain America 3, in which they have to resolve the Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier storyline. It’s also The Avengers 2, Part II, in which the Avengers now must deal with the aftermath of the battle with Ultron, as well as fallout from their earlier battles. Both parts of the movie may have benefited from being split into two films, but even given what they had to work with, the movie worked exceptionally well. The events of Captain America 3 were used as the catalyst for the events of Civil War.  Zemo is the main villain of the film (Crossbones makes an appearance in a fantastic battle scene, but is killed at the end of the scene).  His family was killed in the battle against Ultron and Zemo is out for revenge.  He is merely human, so he knows he can’t kill the Avengers because more powerful men than him have tried and failed, so he sets out to tear the Avengers apart.  He does so by framing Barnes for the murder of several delegates by bombing a UN meeting where a piece of legislation is going to be signed to keep the Avengers in check.  Zemo’s human, relatable backstory, mixed with his actually succeeding in tearing the Avengers apart makes him one of the best and most compelling villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the best villains are the ones from the shows, but the villains in the movies tend to be cookiecutter supervillains). Zemo used his intellect instead of brute strength to beat the Avengers.
Civil War, even having so much to accomplish, was a fantastic movie. Most of the fight scenes were truly mind-blowing (and I don’t use that term loosely). I thought all of the CGI used was very realistic. I was fooled the entire time, and the movie didn’t feel like it was two and a half hours long, to me. Though there are many ways in which the movie deviated from the source material in the comics. It actually bears little resemblance to the comics. One of those is that in the comics, the war was over whether or not to reveal their identities to the world, as well as being accountable to the government. But in the MCU, most or all of the heroes’ identities are known, so this doesn’t play a role in the legislation the UN wants to ratify.

Clinton’s Misses
As I stated, the Avengers are dealing with the aftermath of their many battles. As such, the UN wants to put a reign on them. They want to specifically train the Avengers, and be in charge of where the Avengers go. Essentially, the Avengers will become a government-led team.  If there’s one thing I think could have been improved, I wish there would have been more debate and deliberation before passing the legislation. There was one scene in which the Avengers were hashing it  out, but the legislation was already going to be passed. They were simply deliberating on whether or not to comply.

CGB Misses
Like Clinton, I too had an issue with how the whole “government wants to control the Avengers” dilemma is not developed enough.  Granted, I’m glad that the focus was more on the budding rivalry between Captain America and Iron Man, but would have liked the politics of the Avengers issue to have been fleshed out more.
I personally didn’t care for Zemo as the villain.  I get that his dirty work is best done in the shadows, but I never felt frightened of him.   He just wasn’t as chilling as I had hoped.  Honestly, I feel that the divide between Cap and Iron Man was enough of a conflict on its own.

Clinton’s Verdict
I’ve now seen Captain America: Civil War twice, and I have to say the movie gets better the second time you watch.  There’s so much going on in this film that you’ll undoubtedly miss some things upon first viewing.  
Despite being quite different from the source material in the comics, and having to pack so much into the movie, Civil War was an incredibly well-written, well-done movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat and will excite you by its many excellent fight scenes (especially the Avengers battle in the airport). I’ve seen it both times, and neither time did it ever feel like a two and a half hour movie. This movie has made me even more excited for the upcoming Black Panther, Thor, and Infinity War movies.

CGB Verdict
Captain America: Civil War has a lot on its plate and for the most part, it succeeds in making all of its elements work.  The action is well-choreographed and easier to see this time (Age of Ultron and, to an extent, Winter Soldier had some issue with action-scene-clarity).  The story is properly structured and has complex aspects while still being entertaining.  Iron Man has definitely grown and matured as a character, while Captain America himself is an admirable example of heroic masculinity, a trait that is desperately needed in today’s confused society.

Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us.

CGB Review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Winter is coming and so is its soldier.

This is my review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier!

 

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It has been two years since the Battle of New York (the first Avengers movie).  Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (or “Cap” for short) is living in Washington, D.C. and works for S.H.I.E.L.D with Nick Fury.  However, things are not always as they seem and Cap’s trust in S.H.I.E.L.D is tested.  When a deadly conspiracy is discovered, Cap and Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) must team up to save the day.

The Hits
As someone with a devotion to Saint Michael the Archangel, I am pleasantly surprised by how much Captain America reminds me of Michael; brave, honorable and standing firmly on the side of truth.  I love Cap’s sense of justice and duty, how he faithfully carries out S.H.I.E.L.D’s order, yet never does so blindly and how he stands his ground in the face of opposition.  He’s not perfect by any means.  He is a good man who seeks what is right and just in all things.  Often times, characters who are essentially pure of heart tend to suffer from being written as bland and uninvesting.  Luckily, a combination of thoughtful writing and Chris Evans’grounded performance make Cap virtuous without artifice, completely human while at the same time being a cut above.   I guess what I’m trying to say is I really love Captain America! 🙂
The Winter Soldier himself is a seriously terrifying villain.  I appreciate that his dialogue is sparse and how he uses the intensity of his gaze to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of his victims.  His few words and fierce facial expressions make him an unnerving presence when he is on screen.
I really like the idea that [SPOILER TO ANYONE WHO STILL HASN’T WATCHED WINTER SOLDIER] S.H.I.E.L.D has been compromised by Hydra.  It mimics real life in that the people or groups we think are moral and upright sometimes turn out to be the opposite.  Also kudos to the strength of the plot’s intrigue, which is important for a film like this which has many complex elements.

The Misses
Some of the action is hard to see due to rapid editing.  I could see Cap’s action just fine, though at times the shaky cam would give me a headache, but Black Widow’s action sequences in particular are difficult to make out.  Speaking of Natasha (and I apologize in advance to any and all Black Widow fans), but I’ve seen her in four movies now (Avengers, Age of Ultron, Winter Soldier and Civil War) and I still don’t care for her character.  She has a good rapport with the other characters, but by herself, she’s not very interesting to me.
Can we please talk about the first five minutes, where we see Cap jogging with a seemingly random stranger (Sam Wilson) who we later learn is Falcon?  I get that the filmmakers were setting up Falcon, but within the movie’s universe, it just comes off as abrupt that two strangers would suddenly start jogging together for a long period of time.  I kind of wish the opening scene had shown Cap and Sam meeting first and then jogging into the Washington sunrise.

I can see why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is held with high regard among Marvel fans.  Along with the exciting action, well-written intrigue and a solid plot, Captain America himself is an admirable character and a hero you can believe in, just like the mighty Archangel himself.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
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CGB Review of Pan (2015)

Me before Pan: “Okay, Lord, I’m going to keep an open mind.  Maybe Pan will be an offbeat fairy tale that I end up liking.”
Me during Pan: “WHAT THE FRICK AM I LOOKING AT?!”

This is my review of Pan…(irritable sigh)

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Pan is the prequel to J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan.  In this version, Peter (Levi Miller) starts out as a little boy living in an orphanage who gets snatched away by pirates and ends up in Neverland, where he must go up against Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) after it is discovered that Peter can fly because–chosen one–and from there, Peter teams up with James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) to discover his true destiny as the flying boy who will save the Natives and the fairies from the tyrannical Blackbeard and the pirates.
I just took an Advil because this movie gave me a migraine.  I am legitimately ticked off because the trailer for this movie looked so enchanting.  Sadly, the final product is anything but magical.  This movie has no idea what it wants to be.  It is so tone-deaf that I was never sure when I was supposed to take a scene seriously.
Alas, let’s just get through the very few Hits before I commence into Super Saiyan rant-mode.
By the way, ten brownie points are yours if you know what a “Super Saiyan” is.

The Hits
To be fair, there is a good story somewhere in this bloated mess of a film.  The world creation is certainly not lacking in imagination.  The locations are gorgeous to look at and I really wish that the movie had taken the time to give Neverland its own identity outside of being a pretty generic CGI backdrop.
The idea of establishing Peter Pan and Captain Hook as friends is interesting, and the banter between them did get a few chuckles out of me.
I do like the concept of Peter being the son of a fairy prince and a human woman, and that Tiger Lily has a connection with Peter’s mother.  Also kudos to the screenwriter for making Peter’s mother a pro-fairy warrior.  Deceased mother characters shouldn’t just be dead nice ladies.
The only scenes that had me invested were the scenes between Peter and Blackbeard.  Levi Miller and Hugh Jackman do have a believable dynamic as enemies.  I always appreciate when a hero and a villain are in the same room, conversing with each other.
Levi Miller is the only person who I sympathetized with.  He seems to understand his role and does his very best to be the grounded force of his strange surroundings.  I do hope that he gets more work and ends up in better movies because there is a lot of promise with him.
It is always tragic when incompentent direction buries a potentionally engaging story.

The Misses
All right, the gloves are coming off.  Let’s go.
(Commencing rant mode) This should have been called “Indecision: The Movie.”  It is painfully obvious that director Joe Wright was second guessing every single story decision he made during production.  Except for Levi Miller, the adult actors are evidence of this.
It’s never a good sign when you can tell that an actor is confused about who they’re supposed to be throughout the film.  I think Mr. Wright first told Hugh Jackman to be menancing, but then right before the camera rolled, he said, “On second thought, Mr. Jackman, Blackbeard should be a comedic villain.  Yeah, that’s it.” But THEN Mr. Wright changed his mind again and told Jackman to be a scary dude.  As a result, Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard switches back and forth from quirky villain to menancing foe every five minutes.  Actually, now that I think about it, Jackman’s performance is inconsistent; he overacts in some scenes and underacts in others.
The secret to writing an offbeat villain is to write he/she as either a scary person who can be funny or as a charming individual with a twisted personality. Attempting to be both sucks away the tension between the villain and the protagonist.   If I’m not afraid of the villain, why should I care about the hero?
The second victim of Joe Wright’s indecision is Garrett Hedlund.  It’s like Mr. Wright couldn’t decide if he wanted James Hook to be a ripoff of Indiana Jones or Hans Solo, so he just said to Hedlund, “Just be both and talk through your teeth a lot because–potatoes!”  The character of James Hook feels so unnatural to the story because he bulges his eyes out, widens his facial expressions and talks through his teeth.  It gets to the point where he is so unrealistic that his appearance in any scene feels shoehorned.  His “romance” with Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) is painful to watch because Hedlund and Mara have zero chemistry.
The action sequences are horrendously edited.  Thanks to a frickton of jumpcuts, I could barely follow what was going on or who was fighting who.   The CGI mermaids and the Neverbirds look embarrassingly fake.  The musical score plays during the wrong sequences.  I rarely say this, but this is the pinnacle of style over substance.
Finally, if you’re a fan of Saint Catherine Laboure or just the religious life in general (or both), you will be ticked at this movie because the nuns who run Peter’s orphanage are Catherine Laboure nuns with no personalities other than being offensive caricatures.  I know that they are Catherine Laboure nuns because of the habits they wear.
This is Catherine, by the way.

Saint Catherine Laboure
Saint Catherine Laboure

It just so happens that Catherine Laboure is my favorite out of all the Saint Catherines, so I was already annoyed within the first five minutes of the movie. Even secular movie critics don’t like the portrayal of the nuns in this flick!

Whenever I’m writing a story or revising an essay before the due date, I’ll run it by my Mother to get a second opinion.  If I propose a last minute change that doesn’t make sense or second guess a key element of my writing project, my Mom will set me straight and advise me to stick with and improve the ideas that are already in place.
Pan is the best example of why film directors should have their mothers on set.  The tone is inconsistent, the actors are confused about who they’re supposed to be, and the visuals overtake character growth and interaction.

Saint Catherine Laboure, you deserve much better treatment.  Also, pray for us.