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BY TIM ESTILOZ
There are two Marvel superhero themed movies you could see this Memorial Day weekend. One is a thrilling action-packed epic that also digs deep into nuanced character relationships; while the other is just an overstuffed mess that numbs the audience with CGI noise and bluster.
Captain America: Civil War focuses on how deep friendships can easily shatter when threatened by even deeper moral dilemmas. Following an incident where civilian collateral damage and deaths result when Cap, Black Widow and the other Avengers try to foil some dangerous mercenaries; the U.N. decides The Avengers need to be held in check and must agree that their missions be supervised by international oversight. When Tony Stark/Iron Man ( Robert Downey Jr. ) is confronted by the grieving mother of a young man inadvertently killed during the Avengers previous movie mission against the villain Ultron in Sokovia, Stark is in favor of the supervision. However, Cap believes the heroes autonomy is the more righteous path.
Battle lines are drawn and Avengers and other superheroes choose sides leading to several incredible action sequences that includes arguably the best superhero battle ever on film. Civil War also wonderfully introduces the character of Black Panther ( Chadwick Boseman ) and finally gives audiences what promises to be perhaps the best incarnation of Spider-Man to date.
However, central to making this film a success is the fracturing friendship and conflicted emotions that erupt between Cap and Iron Man as they each follow their moral compass. Downey Jr. and Evans performances make this film a superb chapter in the franchise.
On the other hand, X-Men: Apocalypse is a jumbled mess jammed with far too many thinly defined characters, too much CGI and lots of plot points we’ve seen before in this franchise. The basic plot revolves around presumably the world’s first, and most powerful, mutant Apocalypse; awakened from a premature burial in ancient Egypt and now seeking to transform the world into mutants. X-Men leader Professor Xavier ( James McAvoy ), Raven/Mystique ( Jennifer Lawrence ) and several other X-Men gather to battle Apocalypse and the four mutants he’s recruited to his side, which includes Magneto ( Michael Fassbender ). The undercurrent of civil rights that gave heft to the previous X-Men films is tossed to the side here, replaced by an all too familiar and mundane plot line of evil mutants simply wanting to conquer the world
The result is an overstuffed mess that culminates in an annoying cacophony of CGI noise, mindless destruction, chaos and an insanely insensitive scene set in Auschwitz that makes this film the superhero equivalent of the worst of the Transformers film garbage.