Review – Ken Burns presents… (“Captain America: Civil War”)

It’s really a third Avengers movie, but don’t tell anyone. Are you #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan? There are so many superheroes in this movie, you better get out your score cards, kiddies, because you’re gonna need them!

Remember The Avengers: Age of Ultron? Yeah, well, that little incident in Sokovia  (as well as the NYC alien invasion and that Washington-Hydra fiasco) has taken it’s toll with widespread destruction and devastation all at the hands (more or less) of the Avengers. The latest in Lagos involves a few of the team accidentally blowing up a building while trying to save the world from biological terrorists. This leads the United Nations, headed up by Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Ross), to put all the Avengers under restraint. Some are for it (Stark), others aren’t (Rogers).

But after a bomb kills several at the U.N. and Bucky, aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is blamed, things escalate. Bucky’s BFF, Captain America, aka Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), knows Bucky didn’t do it and swears allegiance to his pal, even after everyone wants him dead, especially a new superhero from Wakanda, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). But more trouble brews when a Colonel Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) has sinister plans for Bucky by activating his old Soviet brainwashing trigger words.

Meanwhile, while Cap is desperately trying to keep Bucky safe, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey, jr) wants Cap (and his team) arrested. Stark recruits a young web-slinger from NYC, while Falcon (Anthony Mackie) employs a certain super-shrinker ex-con. Immediately sides are drawn, but Rogers has his pals to back him up: Bucky, Falcon, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) pitted against Iron Man and his cronies: Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), and newbies, Black Panther and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Sorry, the Hulk and Thor are on vacation.

But when Bucky reveals to Rogers that Zemo’s plan is to restore five other super-soldiers like him to bring about world destruction, all bets are off. The major superhero fight grinds to a halt and Rogers and Bucky must find Zemo before it’s too late. When Stark finds out the truth about Bucky’s bombing innocence, he joins in the hunt, but he’s in for a big surprise when they meet Zemo.

Clocking in at 2hrs and 26mins, the screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who are also writing the upcoming Avengers: Infinity Wars), have really come up with a grand scale design here, not to mention one helluva juggling act. Not only do you have your regular actors, but you have over a dozen iconic superheros to play with and they give them each decent screen time. The introductions of both King T’Challa/Black Panther and Peter Parker/Spider-Man are given their rightful due into the Avengers family and are not just glossed-over. Check out Parker’s hot Aunt May played by Marisa Tomei! The story arc is nicely handled with a unique twist and snappy dialogue meant to please the most discerning fan-boy.

Directed by the Russo Brothers (Anthony & Joe–who will also be directing the upcoming Avengers: Infinity Wars) know their stuff and keep the action coming at a steady pace, having done the exciting Captain America: Winter Soldier. They blend equal amounts humor, action, pathos, and necessary down-time to give the viewer vested interest. The very best part is the all-out ‘civil war’ fight between all the superheros at the airport. It’s ridiculously entertaining and action-filled with so much witty banter between the fighters, you can’t help but smile. And Stan Lee makes his usual cameo, as he always does.  

It ends with a cliffhanger, naturally, as the next movie(s) sets up a two-parter. Avengers: Infinity Wars. But we’ll also have another Thor movie (Thor: Ragnarok), a Black Panther origin film (Black Panther), and a new Spider-Man reboot (Spider-Man: Homecoming). There’s also talk about a Black Widow origin movie and another Hulk movie, so stay tuned!

The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
good-guys-and-the-bad-guys-1969Sides are drawn when two former BFF’s are brought back together after they went their separate ways: one a U.S.Marshall, the other a legendary bank robber. Can these two stop their feuding long enough to fight another rival warring gang? Oh, wait, did I mention this is supposed to be a slapstick comedy?

In a case of bad casting, a befuddled screenplay that didn’t know whether to be funny or serious, and handled by a decent director who must’ve thrown his hands up in defeat mid-picture, this awkward movie is both a semi-comedy and sentimental Western, all rolled into one. The great Robert Mitchum (proving the man couldn’t do comedy) plays aging Marshall Flagg, a serious lawman in the boom-town of Progress, where them newfangled automobiles are quickly replacing the horse. (Look for a red “Leslie Special” from The Great Race in one scene).

Anyway, Flagg gets wind from old geezer Grundy (Douglas Fowly) that his old nemesis (and former BFF) Big Jim McKay (George Kennedy) has come out of hiding, formed a new gang, and is planning on hitting the new bank in Progress. Flagg informs the lascivious and election-smarmy Mayor (Martin Balsom) and the weak Sheriff (Dick Peabody). So, what does the Mayor do? Ignore the problem and retire the Marshall! But that doesn’t stop the intrepid Flagg who hunts down and finds McKay and his new gang of young’uns, led by the killer, Waco (David Carradine).

But it seems these kids don’t like old guys, so they kick McKay outta his own gang and leave him to the Marshall. Well, wouldn’t cha know it, these two re-kindle their old friendship and, with the encouragement of the Mayor and Mary, the pretty hotel owner (Lois Nettleton), the two decide to join forces and stop the bad guys from robbing the train.

One part sentimental old-fashion Western, two-parts comedy with some slapstick hijinks at the end, add a dollop of pathos here and there, this wanna-be full-out comedy died at the box office. Oh sure, you had some great actors in it like a half-naked Tina Louise (Ginger from Gilligan’s Island), John Carradine, a cameo by Buddy Hackett, and even director Burt Kennedy yelling, “FIGHT!” to start off a short fight scene.

This film wanted to be another Kennedy classic, like his Support Your Local Sheriff or Support Your Local Gunfighter movies, but struggled with an awful script written by Ronald M. Cohen and Dennis Shryack, two lackluster screenwriters who never wrote anything noteworthy.

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