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Captain America: Civil War Collector's Edition Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Captain America: Civil War (2016) movie poster Captain America: Civil War

Theatrical Release: May 6, 2016 / Running Time: 148 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo / Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (screenplay); Mark Millar (comic book); Joe Simon, Jack Kirby (characters)

Cast: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Don Cheadle (Lieutenant James Rhodes/War Machine), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa/Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Daniel Brühl (Helmut Zemo), Frank Grillo (Brock Rumlow/Crossbones), William Hurt (Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross), Martin Freeman (Everett K. Ross), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May Parker), John Slattery (Howard Stark), Hope Davis (Maria Stark), Alfre Woodard (Miriam Sharpe), Stan Lee (FedEx Driver)

Buy Captain America: Civil War from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD • Blu-ray • DVD • Instant Video

The box office numbers, critic scores, and IMDb viewer ratings for The Winter Soldier suggest not many share my opinion that Captain America's movies have been the weakest of the single hero, multi-film series born out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched in 2008. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that the line's third entry, Captain America:
Civil War
, is more of an Avengers movie than a Captain America one. And while those underwhelmed by last year's Avengers: Age of Ultron may groan at getting another comparable outing with much of that ensemble intact so soon, it's not a bad thing.

Civil War follows up on the one real narrative strand that ran through both the 1940s-set original film and present-day Winter Soldier, involving Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), the childhood best friend of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) who became a potent killing machine having been brainwashed by the terrorist organization HYDRA. Captain's decades-long history with Bucky gives him sympathy for the accused terrorist many would like to see dead. We open in 1991 Siberia, where the unfrozen Bucky is being indoctrinated and given a series of Russian words that program him to do evil's bidding.

In the present day, surviving Maximoff sibling Wanda, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), is in Lagos, Nigeria with Captain and his friend Falcon (Anthony Mackie) trying to stop deadly HYDRA agents from stealing a biological weapon. The ensuing mess down there invites enough backlash for the superheroes to suddenly find themselves having to answer to a United Nations panel before acting with the world's interests in mind. Iron Man himself, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., who despite second billing, gets about as much screentime as the titular hero), is on board with the proposal, but Captain is not, creating a rift.

Meanwhile, a running plot involves Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), a Sokovian colonel with secret plans.

Black Panther, The Vision, Iron Man, Black Widow, Spider-Man, and War Machine represent one side of "Captain America: Civil War."

With directors/brothers Anthony and Joe Russo returning from The Winter Soldier, Civil War again places action above story and characters. There are lots of fight sequences, beginning with that jerkily-shot escapade down in Africa.

The movie really hits its groove slightly past the halfway mark of its substantial 148-minute runtime. It is here at an airport in Germany where the movie establishes two teams of six with opposite views squaring off against each other. On one side, there is Iron Man, Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), newly introduced vengeful African king Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), newly-cast and new-to-this-universe young and nerdy Spider-Man (Tom Holland), The Vision (Paul Bettany), and War Machine (Don Cheadle). On the other are Captain America, Bucky, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and FBI Agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who is revealed to be the niece of Captain's old flame Peggy Carter.

This sequence embodies everything that people love about Marvel's superhero movies. You've got these diverse characters using their varied powers against one another. Spider-Man tangles up foes with web fluid and talks too much. Ant-Man grows from the size of an insect to a giant. There are explosions and one-liners. Where DC's movies, like the much-maligned Batman v Superman, go dark and broody, the Russos keep this light and fun. There is weight to the plot and actions, but there are also more laughs in this stretch than any other.

On the other side are Falcon, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, and the Winter Soldier.

The film keeps on going until it arrives at a mano a mano fight between Iron Man and Captain America, which reminds one of that recent Batman/Superman showdown, albeit without the darkness, silly twist, and loud, prolonged hurling.

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Though they both may hail from the pages of comic books, the two rival superhero universes do have a decidedly different way of presenting their material on film. And while some may be tiring of Marvel's safe, crossover-heavy approach, whose Phase 3 this thirteenth production kicks off with the occasional feel of an ABC series designed to keep you coming back, it still manages to excite and entertain the masses. Civil War is a little better than the previous two Captain America movies and almost as good as the two Avengers movies it more closely resembles. Really, all we're missing are Thor, the Hulk, and Nick Fury, all of whom were likely kept on the sidelines so as to distinguish this from the dream team line. (Hulk and Fury were cut from the project during production and development, respectively.)

The lines are nonetheless blurred and while this might not have had the sky high box office expectations of the films wielding the full Avengers lineup and a title to reflect that, there's enough superhero power here to easily foresee this joining the 24-film-and-counting billion dollar worldwide club that counts both Avengers movies and Iron Man 3 as members. Doing so with ease, Civil War embarrassed Batman v Superman, which fell over $100 million short of that milestone amidst lighter spring competition. That one-upmanship only intensifies the battle between DC and Marvel fanboys that is being waged in comments sections throughout the Internet.

Yes, there are additional scenes both mid-end credits and at the very end. Yes, you'll probably want to endure the endless scroll of names to see them both.

Keeping in line with Marvel's scheduling traditions and release standards, Civil War hits stores this week in a single-disc DVD, a single-disc Blu-ray, and the two-disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD reviewed here.

Captain America: Civil War Collector's Edition Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D & Blu-ray Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (2 BD-50s)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone Blu-ray ($32.99 SRP), as DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Like other Marvel movies, Captain America: Civil War leaves nothing to be desired in high definition. The 2.40:1 presentation is sharp, pristine, and vivid, while the 7.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is full of life and directional effects without requiring adjustment of volume levels. As my theatrical screening was in 2D, the Blu-ray 3D provided my first taste of the film's 3D version. Like most modern tentpoles, the film made subtle use of the format, establishing layers of depth without trying to dazzle you with coming-at-you effects.

Green screen and explosions on the set of Captain America: Civil War's superhero-packed standout sequence. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans discuss their characters' roads to "Civil War."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Unsurprisingly, all bonus features are relegated to the standard Blu-ray disc.

The extras begin with a Featurettes section, which begins with less a featurette than a full blown documentary presented in two parts (22:25 and 23:18). "United We Stand, Divided We Fall - The Making of Captain America: Civil War" stands as the set's primary making-of piece. It covers the bases you expect it to, from the considering the characters and the actors cast in the roles, to dissecting the plot and talking about rehearsal, filming locations and the like.

Two short and similar featurettes follow. "Captain America: The Road to Civil War" (4:11) and "Iron Man: The Road to Civil War" (4:27) both explore how these lead characters got to this point, with brief reflections on their (appropriately excerpted) previous film experiences and their personal evolutions.

Marvel flexes their huge marketing muscles with a "Doctor Strange" sneak peek fans will lap up. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) catch up post-funeral in this extended scene.

The first section wraps up with "Open Your Mind" (4:02), an extended sneak peek of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next release, November's Doctor Strange comprised of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, clips, and concept art.

A deleted/extended scenes section runs 7 minutes and 52 seconds. It is comprised of four sequences: a significantly extended funeral and aftermath, and very brief moments with Zemo, Black Panther, and the airport runway battle.

Scarlet Johansson laughs after fumbling an action in the gag reel. Captain America may share the spotlight in "Civil War", but at least he gets his due on the Blu-ray's menu.

A gag reel (2:53) finds the cast cracking up, messing up, swatting flies,
and horsing around between takes amidst much green screen. Profanity is bleeped.

Finally, an audio commentary lets you watch the film with remarks from directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. They have a lot of air to fill, with the added challenge of past Marvel films having already been remarked upon. Gaps are somewhat common, but the four try to comment on what's onscreen as much as they can. Among the most interesting topics are the group's trying to keep the franchise from repeating itself and the writers writing for established characters they haven't written for before, and an appearance made by the Bluth family's stair car from "Arrested Development" (episodes of which the Russo brothers directed). It's no must-hear, but it is a decent listen.

The disc opens with a Doctor Strange trailer, a promo for Audi's product placement in the film, and an ad for the mobile game Marvel Contest of Champions. Its "Sneak Peeks" listing repeats the same three items.

The unremarkable main menu plays clips in a space atop the lab where Winter Soldiers are being stored.

The two plain blue discs are held in a standard blue keepcase, with the obligatory Digital HD code held in a sealed little pamphlet. Of course, there is a slipcover and it is notable for presenting Iron Man and Captain America in their helmets while the cover below unmasks them. Like other Disney Blu-rays, the discs don't support bookmarks or easy resumption of playback, but they do remember where you left off in the film, should you not have finished it in one sitting.

Though left out of the marketing, it is the young, talkative new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) who steals every scene of "Captain America: Civil War" he's in.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Sure, you can make the argument that if you've seen one Marvel movie, you've seen them most. But Captain America: Civil War rounds up much of the Avengers gang along with a couple of new allies to serve up the spirited fun that has made the comic book company's films so dependable and profitable.

The Blu-ray's feature presentation is terrific and the extras are as substantial as you've come to expect from Marvel. Your decision of whether or not to purchase this release should align with whether or not you've been collecting the other Marvel films on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D.

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Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Captain America: The First Avenger • Captain America: The Winter Soldier • Avengers: Age of Ultron • Ant-Man • Iron Man • Iron Man 3
Thor • Thor: The Dark World • Guardians of the Galaxy • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete First Season
Spider-Man • Spider-Man 2 • Spider-Man 3 • The Amazing Spider-Man • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
2016 Blockbusters on Blu-ray: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice • The Jungle Book • Zootopia
Chris Evans: Snowpiercer • Before We Go | Robert Downey Jr.: The Judge • Sherlock Holmes
Written by Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe • Pain & Gain

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Reviewed September 11, 2016.



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