A high water mark for comic book action-adventure 4.5 Stars

As the culmination of three Iron Man movies, two Captain America films, and two adventures featuring The Avengers, Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War is something of a masterpiece.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Released: 06 May 2016
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 147 min
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Writer(s): Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Joe Simon (based on the Marvel comics by), Jack Kirby (based on the Marvel comics by)
Plot: Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
IMDB rating: 8.2
MetaScore: 75

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 27 Min.
Package Includes: 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 09/13/2016
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4.5/5

As the culmination of three Iron Man movies, two Captain America films, and two adventures featuring The Avengers, Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War is something of a masterpiece. Probing much more deeply into character than the average comic book adventure film and using the audience’s accumulated feelings about each of the Avengers who take part in this saga, Civil War takes full advantage of differing rooting interests for various appealing characters while introducing some new faces to the cinematic world and surprising us with some heretofore unrevealed pockets of information that continually amuse and amaze. And with all of that, the same brisk sense of humor and wry turn of phrase is still present amid the gathering storm that may change the world for these crime fighters forever.

With the human death toll fallout from the showdown with Ultron and a new enemy Crossbones (Frank Grillo) more serious than anyone expected, the Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) presents the Avengers with an ultimatum: either sign an agreement through which the United Nations will oversee and direct all future work by the group or risk international search and capture. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), feeling guilty for some of his previous reckless behavior, encourages the other group members to sign, and he gets friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) on his side. Captain America Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) knows the vagaries of evolving international alliances and refuses to agree. When a terror attack occurs which is blamed on Steve’s friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and brings African prince Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) into the fight even though Bucky swears his innocence, the Captain is even more convinced their hands can’t be tied by this United Nations treaty. Joining his side of the argument are Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). And with some surprise entries into the fight, the superheroes aren’t aware that there is a puppet master offstage, Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who is pulling strings with his own fractious agenda.

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay really touches deeply into family and friendship dynamics throughout this nearly 2 ½-hour film, and discussion and debate, sometimes death to an action picture, here seems completely justified and even enjoyable. Cleverly, however, there are also several misdirects they’ve woven into their story making surprises sprung on the audience late in the movie deliciously unexpected and breath-catching. Naturally, the Russo brothers keep the action scenes mind-blowingly jumpy and memorable: the amazing battle with Crossbones at the start seems almost like child’s play compared to the epic battles ahead. Of course, everyone’s expecting the showdown between the sides supporting Captain America and those supporting Iron Man, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint in the fast action, the surprises, the innumerable quips, and reverses we don’t see coming (it’s the centerpiece of the movie), but a later mano a mano between the two primary adversaries is even more spellbinding with greater emotions on display and the stakes more personal and less ideological. There is also a startling chase on foot and in vehicles through a tunnel underpass that any other action movie would kill to have as part of its framework, and here as the set-up for the face-off between the Avengers, it’s almost forgotten in its beauty in staging and complexity in execution.

Robert Downey, Jr. gets to show more stark (no pun intended) emotion in this film than in all five of his previous appearances as Iron Man combined. Chris Evans’ Captain America/Steve Rogers may be a little more stoic than necessary (when his eyes fill with tears at one climactic moment, it’s pretty astounding), but the movie allows us to see that personal friendship for him goes above and beyond belief in the greater good. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow gets some choice moments too to weigh the pros and cons of each side’s stances before making a series of possibly controversial choices. Sebastian Stan gets to act expressively the Jekyll and Hyde nature of his brainwashed Winter Soldier. Anthony Mackie and Don Cheadle as best friends respectively of Captain America and Iron Man get their own moments in the spotlight and do well with them. As for the newcomers, Chadwick Boseman gets a great introduction as Black Panther, and one can easily see a movie being developed around his character. Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, and Paul Rudd continue to play their superhero parts with enthusiasm, and Daniel Brühl makes a great villain because his fury is much more internalized and his scheme more intellectualized than simply someone who wants to destroy everything or simply take over the planet, a nice change from the usual comic film archenemy. In smaller roles, Frank Grillo, Alfre Woodard, Marisa Tomei, William Hurt, Emily VanCamp, Martin Freeman, and especially Tom Holland make the very most of their opportunities.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: 4/5

The film is framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and is presented in 1080p using the MVC/AVC codec. Just as one would expect with such a multi-million dollar project (the budget has been estimated at $250 million), the imagery is top notch in every way, and the great reliance on CG effects either in the foreground or background never results in a loss of sharpness or focus while close-ups reveal much detail in facial features, hair, and clothes. Color is rich and real with true skin tones throughout. Black levels are superb. The movie has been divided into 19 chapters.

As a post conversion, there aren’t any forward projections of note (the feet of one of the superheroes do swing out toward the camera at one stupendous moment), but the sense of depth throughout is sensational, and director of photography Trent Opaloch along with the directing Russo brothers have shot quite a few scenes from a high angle facing downward which really accentuates the depth of field. Quite a few of the scenes are staged with characters on different planes making for very interesting depth compositions though there are other shots that do seem relatively flat and unimpressive.

Audio: 5/5

Presented in Atmos in the theater, the sound mix here is DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, and it’s as thrillingly immersive and enveloping as any superhero movie should be. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been planted in the center channel. The propulsive score by Henry Jackman fills the soundstage without ever seeming too overpowering. Split effects and pans across and through the soundstage are most impressive while the LFE channel also gets a thorough workout.

Special Features: 3/5

The 3D disc contains no bonus material. All the bonuses are contained on the 2D Blu-ray disc in the case.

Audio Commentary: directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are all present to comment on the film’s planning, dead end script ideas, and production details which fans are always eager to know.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall (22:25, 23:18, HD): shown in two parts, this behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film concentrates the first part on the established story and characters while part two concentrates on the newer members of the Marvel cinematic family. Commenting along the way are producers Kevin Feige, Nate Moore, and Victoria Alonso, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and actors Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Frank Grillo, Paul Rudd, William Hurt, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Daniel Brühl, Sebastian Stan, and Elizabeth Olsen.

Captain America: The Road to Civil War (4:11, HD): directors Tony and Joe Russo, producers Kevin Feige and Nate Moore, and actors Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. explain Steve Rogers’ side of the argument.

Iron Man: The Road to Civil War (4:27, HD): the same creative staff members explain Tony Stark’s point of view in the debate in this brief featurette.

Open Your Mind: Marvel’s Doctor Strange (4:02, HD): the film’s director and leading players give some insight into the next Marvel film premiering in November.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (7:52, HD): four scenes are shown in montage. They may also be accessed separately.

Gag Reel (2:53, HD)

Promo Trailers (HD): Doctor Strange, Contest of Champions.

 

Digital Copy: code card enclosed in the case.

Overall: 4.5/5

Captain America: Civil War has set the bar high indeed for the next congregation of the Avengers (slated to be a two-part tale, Infinity War). The picture and sound quality is as good as one would expect, and the 3D, while possibly not earthshaking in its impact, offers a more than passable alternative to the 2D experience. Highly recommended!

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Adam Lenhardt

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There's something weird going on, where the comments on the review aren't showing up as posts on the forum side.

Josh Steinberg said:
So the aspect ratio is a static 2.35:1 and doesn’t open up to 1.90:1 during the airport scene as it did in IMAX 3D theaters? Bummer.
As far as I know, Disney doesn't go for shifting aspect ratios on its IMAX-shot footage as seen with The Dark Knight, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol from various other studios. The one exception being the 3D release of Guardians of the Galaxy. But in that case, even the 2D Blu-Ray was locked at 2:40:1 only.
 

Josh Steinberg

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The one exception being the 3D release of Guardians of the Galaxy. But in that case, even the 2D Blu-Ray was locked at 2:40:1 only.
Disney went for it in Tron Legacy as well. Guardians was the only other Marvel film with shifting ratios on disc so I was hoping that was gonna set a precedent.

In my opinion, the way the Guarduans disc was presented was correct - the only version that had shifting ratios theatrically was the IMAX 3D version, so only the 3D disc has it. Was hoping it would be the same with Civil War, but I'll still be getting it.
 
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Mark-P

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I did find a scan of the 3D version back cover on ebay. It only lists one aspect ratio, so if the 3D film actually has a floating ratio, even the spec. writers missed it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I did find a scan of the 3D version back cover on ebay. It only lists one aspect ratio, so if the 3D film actually has a floating ratio, even the spec. writers missed it.
That was also true of Guardians 3D.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Maybe, like for "Guardians of the Galaxy", the changing IMAX aspect ratios only happens in the 3D version.
In my opinion that would be the correct presentation. Since the movie was presented as a static 2.39:1 in 2D theaters, that's how I think it should be on 2D discs as well.
 

Scott Burke

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I guess I'm in the minority, but if it wasn't for Spider-Man and ant man I would have been really bored with this movie. I did not find character motivation to make sense, especially at the end of the film.
 

Bryan Tuck

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In my opinion that would be the correct presentation. Since the movie was presented as a static 2.39:1 in 2D theaters, that's how I think it should be on 2D discs as well.
I kind of wish that had been done on Tron: Legacy, as well. To be honest, I actually find this multi-aspect ratio trend a little distracting, especially when it jumps back and forth between ratios in the middle of a sequence (which, to be fair, doesn't really happen on either Tron or Civil War).

I've been saying for a long time that a possible solution would be to seamlessly branch the IMAX footage, allowing the viewer to choose between multi-ratio, and consistent 2.40:1. It might not work with something like The Dark Knight Rises (long movie, lots of IMAX footage scattered throughout), but I think it might have for Civil War and its one IMAX sequence.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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JJ Abrams isn't a fan of the switching either, which is why the first home video releases of Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn't have them.
 

Brett_B

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Other reviews state that the airport sequence does shift the ratio on the 3D edition.
I just read the 3D review at bluray.com, and they do mention the shift in the ratio during the airport sequence.
 

Sean Bryan

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Loved this movie!

The steel book just arrived from Best Buy.

I hope to watch it this weekend, but either way I can check to confirm the airport aspect ratio change in 3D tonight.
 
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Sean Bryan

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Yep. 100% confirmed. The 3D version goes full screen for the airport, the 2D stays at scope.

Damn, what great movie this was! Arguably Marvel's best yet. The Russos really nailed it. I'm so glad they are doing the next two Avengers films.

The image quality looked great here. Now I hope Disney will start releasing titles on UHD BD so Marvel Studios can get their movies out on the format.
 
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Yep. 100% confirmed. The 3D version goes full screen for the airport, the 2D stays at scope.
Fantastic! Was hoping for that!

The image quality looked great here. Now I hope Disney will start releasing titles on UHD BD so Marvel Studios can get their movies out on the format.
For what it's worth, all of the Marvel movies to date have been finished with 2K DIs, so I'm not sure if there would be much of a difference for most of them. The Civil War airport sequence was shot with the IMAX 4K cameras, and the IMAX DCP may have been 4K (American Cinematographer is murky on this point), but for the rest of the movies, I'm uncertain if there'd be much of a difference between BD and UHD versions, since they'd all be based off the same 2K master. Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Disney was also completed in 2K. Disney seems comfortable at this time using 2K as their master format. If their 2K masters are good enough to be blown up for IMAX, the largest screens in the world, it's hard for me to imagine them putting much of an effort into doing 4K for the home.
 

Sean Bryan

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Fantastic! Was hoping for that!



For what it's worth, all of the Marvel movies to date have been finished with 2K DIs, so I'm not sure if there would be much of a difference for most of them. The Civil War airport sequence was shot with the IMAX 4K cameras, and the IMAX DCP may have been 4K (American Cinematographer is murky on this point), but for the rest of the movies, I'm uncertain if there'd be much of a difference between BD and UHD versions, since they'd all be based off the same 2K master. Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Disney was also completed in 2K. Disney seems comfortable at this time using 2K as their master format. If their 2K masters are good enough to be blown up for IMAX, the largest screens in the world, it's hard for me to imagine them putting much of an effort into doing 4K for the home.
I don't know how accurate it is, but IMDB says that Civil War has a 4K DI.

Even though the others would be upscales for the resolution, there'd still be the benefit of the wider color space and new HDR grade that would be done for the UHD release. Lots of great UHD BDs are 2K up converts. Though to be honest, the HDR is something that only interests me for potential future viewing. I'm using a projector for films (JVC RS600) and HDR for home projectors is more of compromise than it's worth. But I'd like to imagine that someday I can get a 100+" OLED (or comprobable new tech).

The Making of Civil War featurette was nice. Marvel hasn't done much for their home releases for a while, so it was nice to see a little more effort here. Certainly nowhere near stuff like the Lord of the Rings documentaries, but a definite step in the right direction. A Marvel "One Shot" would have been nice, but they are so busy filming Guardians of the Galaxy (well, just finished), Spider-Man and Thor (while doing preproduction on Infinity War) that it is understandable that they may not have the resources to produce another quality short film. I still hope for their return someday.

I liked the deleted scenes, but there was nothing that was a crime to have been omitted. Most were subtle and short. The Russos (and Markus & McFeeley) shoot from a tight script. There's no extra hour of story that hit the cutting room floor here. I'd say I liked the extended/alternate funeral the most. Some nice bits of extra character stuff and one or two visuals, and an alternate version of Steve's and Sharon's conversation. And the short bit with Bucky using Cap's shield at the airport was nice.

Again, I am stoked that these guys are doing Infinity War (Avengers 3) and the Avengers 4, which will be two separate but related films that are the culmination of 11 years of storytelling. I've really loved their take on Cap and this universe in general, so I love that they started a story with The Winter Soldier which they continue through Civil War, and then get to continue with that through line in two Avengers films. It's good to be a geek.
 
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I'm sorry Joss Whedon wasn't interested in sticking around to see the Avengers movies to their conclusion (or at least, the conclusion of the Infinity Wars storyline that he started), but if Whedon couldn't do it, the Russos are absolutely my next choice.

I haven't been wowed by any 4K or HDR stuff I've seen yet, but I'll add the necessary caveat that I've only seen HDR in Dolby Vision-equipped theaters, not on a flat panel at home. That said, frankly, I didn't notice any difference between a non-HDR showing of the same title on a different screen. Those differences in color might be beyond my ability to perceive - or might not be as noticeable on a movie screen. I certainly don't know enough to be sure. But it's made me skeptical of 4K and HDR for home. I also have zero interest in seeing older films redone for HDR. And since these movies were originally released in 3D, I'd rather have them on regular BD in 3D, than on UHD in 2D.

But I hope, for the sake of UHD enthusiasts, that Disney eventually puts them out - just cause I'm not seeing the big deal yet doesn't mean that no one else should have access to them :)
 

Sean Bryan

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I'm sorry Joss Whedon wasn't interested in sticking around to see the Avengers movies to their conclusion (or at least, the conclusion of the Infinity Wars storyline that he started), but if Whedon couldn't do it, the Russos are absolutely my next choice.

I haven't been wowed by any 4K or HDR stuff I've seen yet, but I'll add the necessary caveat that I've only seen HDR in Dolby Vision-equipped theaters, not on a flat panel at home. That said, frankly, I didn't notice any difference between a non-HDR showing of the same title on a different screen. Those differences in color might be beyond my ability to perceive - or might not be as noticeable on a movie screen. I certainly don't know enough to be sure. But it's made me skeptical of 4K and HDR for home. I also have zero interest in seeing older films redone for HDR. And since these movies were originally released in 3D, I'd rather have them on regular BD in 3D, than on UHD in 2D.

But I hope, for the sake of UHD enthusiasts, that Disney eventually puts them out - just cause I'm not seeing the big deal yet doesn't mean that no one else should have access to them :)
I don't think you should notice any difference in color if you are comparing theatrical Dolby Vision HDR screenings to regular theatrical screenings as they both would be using the same theatrical DCI/P3 color space. But BD uses the smaller rec709 while UHD BD uses the same color space DCI/P3 you'd see in the theater. Not a dramatic difference, but noticeable.

For my home projection, I actually use an HDMI spoofer (the HD Fury Integral) to tell the UHD player that my monitor can accept the wider color space but not HDR (since projectors can't really do HDR well). So the player converts to SDR but keeps the wider color space. That way I can take advantage of any increase in resolution and the theatrical color space while still enjoying the maximum dynamic range and contrast of the projector (HDR on projectors ironically puts the projectors into their lowest dynamic range modes - high lamp and iris fully open, which raises the black floor while still not reaching the peak brightness intended for HDR).

HDR is really made with flat panels in mind, but even most current flat panels will have similar issues as I described with projectors. Only the really high end displays (LCDs with good full array local dimming or OLEDs) can do HDR properly. But they are too small for me for viewing films. Some day I'll be able to have a home display that is as large or larger than my projection screen but that can do the peak brightness of HDR while keeping deep blacks. When that day comes I'll be happy to have the option of HDR on my film collection.

Edited to add: Theatrical HDR does not represent what you should expect to see with home HDR (with a monitor that can actually do it welll). The Dolby theatrical HDR is a completely different grade, mastering to a much lower peak brightness than the grade for home HDR. Projector owners wish that the theatrical HDR grades were available for home use since it would work better for our displays. But the home HDR grades are geared with flat panel brightness in mind.
 
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