Captain America: Civil War
Walt Disney Pictures
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem
Avengers Split Into Adversarial Factions In Cluttered, Over-Ambitious Action-Adventure
After overkill during an Avengers mission gone horribly wrong in Lagos, Nigeria exacts a terrible toll in terms of collateral damage, the U.S. Secretary of State (William Hurt) calls the team of superheroes on the carpet. He proceeds to chew them out for behaving like vigilantes with unchecked power, before suggesting they agree to be supervised in the future by a United Nations panel.
While a remorseful Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) is willing to submit to the Anti-Hero Registration Act, Captain America (Chris Evans) is much more suspicious of these Sokovia Accords ratified by 117 nations. Next thing you know, the Avengers have split into factions over whether or not they should abide by the governmental regulation. What ensues is a visually-captivating battle royal in which the allies-turned-adversaries inexplicably fight each other rather than resolve their ethical differences civilly. What does that tell you about whether they might need to be reigned in?
Among those siding with Iron Man are Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and Captain America’s freedom lovers include Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ant Man (Paul Rudd).
Fans of the franchise are certain to delight in seeing so many of their favorite superheroes together in the same episode. Regrettably, that is both the primary strength and weakness of this 13th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series. For, co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Winter Soldier) have cluttered the screen by introducing and then failing to develop over a score of prominent characters, unless engaging in combat counts.
Too bad they couldn’t come up with anything more interesting for the shattered, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. confederacy to do besides battling each other. Clocking in at 2 and 1/2 hours, even the eye-popping special f/x-tend to gets a little tedious once the wow factor wears off.
An underwhelming exercise in sound and fury strictly for brains on pause.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 146 minutes
Sony Pictures Classics
Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets
Against-The-Odds Documentary Recounts How Working-Class Welshmen Bred A Successful Racehorse.
In 2000, Jan Voles was working as barmaid in a pub when she got the idea of raising a racehorse from a customer. So, she and her husband bought an injured, ill-tempered mare for a song before breeding it with a bona fide thoroughbred.
A foal was born in 2001, and they invited locals from their Welsh coal mining town to invest in the colt, divvying up ownership among 30 partners asked to contribute 10 pounds per week for training and maintenance. After getting off to a shaky start, Dream Alliance won his fourth race and he went on to enjoy a successful career, peaking in 2009 when he prevailed in the Welsh Grand National, a steeplechase featuring 22 fences over a course of 3 miles.
By the time the unlikely champion retired several years later, the investors had realized a profit of 1,430 pounds apiece. That improbable feat is recounted in entertaining fashion in Dark Horse, an inspirational documentary directed by Louise Ormond (Deep Water).
The film chronicles not only Dream Alliance’s historic ascent, including a recovery from a near-fatal accident en route to fame, but the sheer delight taken by its working-class owners as they rub elbows with their relatively-wealthy colleagues residing in the realm of Sport of Kings.
An exhilarating tribute to an overachieving underdog that turned a barmaid’s fanciful dream into a reality.
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Running time: 85 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening May 13, 2016
The Darkness (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, disturbing violence and brief sensuality) Supernatural horror flick about a family which unwittingly brings back a demonic force from its Grand Canyon vacation. Co-starring Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Jennifer Morrison, Ming-Na Wen and Lucy Fry.
Money Monster (R for brief violence, some sexuality and pervasive profanity) High-octane crime thriller about a bombastic host (George Clooney) of an investment advice TV show who, along with his crew and producer (Julia Roberts), is taken hostage by an irate viewer (Jack O’Connell) after a stock he’d promoted mysteriously tanks. With Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito and Caitriona Balfe.
I Am Wrath (R for profanity and violence) Revenge thriller about a grieving widower (John Travolta) who takes the law into his own hands after corrupt cops fail to find his wife’s (Rebecca De Mornay) killer. With Amanda Schull, Christopher Meloni and Sam Trammell.
Last Days In The Desert (PG-13 for disturbing images and brief partial nudity) Biblical saga revolving around Jesus’ (Ewan McGregor) 40-day battle with the devil while praying and fasting in the desert. Cast includes Ciaran Hinds, Susan Gray, Tye Sheridan and Ayelet Zurer.
Love & Friendship (PG for mature themes) Adaptation of Lady Susan, the Jane Austen novella about a beautiful widow’s (Kate Beckinsale) search for husbands for herself and her daughter (Morfydd Clark) while living on the estate of her well-heeled in-laws. With Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel and Stephen Fry.
Pele: Birth Of A Legend (PG for smoking, mature themes and mild epithets) Soccer biopic chronicling the legendary Pele’s (Kevin de Paula) rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to lead Brazil to its first World Cup victory when he was just 17 years old. With Colm Meaney, Vincent D’Onofrio and Rodrigo Santoro.
Search Party (R for drug use, sexuality, graphic nudity and pervasive profanity) Road comedy about the buddies (T.J. Miller and Adam Pally) of a jilted groom’s (Thomas Middleditch) attempt to help him find the bride (Shannon Woodward) after she leaves for their Mexican honeymoon without him. With J.B. Smoove, Alison Brie and Lance Reddick.
Sundown (R for crude sexuality, graphic nudity, pervasive profanity, teen partying and drug use) Spring Break comedy about a couple of BFFs (Devon Werkheiser and Sean Marquette) who travel to Puerto Vallarta hoping to hook up with their high school crushes. With Teri Hatcher, Camilla Belle and Sara Paxton.
Sunset Song (R for sexuality, nudity and violence) Coming-of age epic, set in 1910, about a Scottish farm girl (Agyness Deyn) torn between tradition and change. Cast includes Kevin Guthrie, Peter Mullan and Jim Sweeney.