Monday, December 5, 2016

Westworld 1x10 "The Bicameral Mind" review

 "These violent delights have violent ends."

    It is an interesting question as to why we create stories and what we get out of them. It is another question as to why so many stories are violent, brutal, and ruthless. To be fair, most aren't. Westworld exists as a kind of erstwhile Deadwood-meets-Game of Thrones in-and-out-of universe but it takes the view this is a place where the absolute worst of humanity gets on display.

    I can't help but think a park where you could live out your ultimate robot fantasies would be as much romantic comedies as Old West Grand Theft Auto, though. However, this is a season which is devoted to the idea of examining storytelling and why we the audience love to watch our creations suffer. Westworld has been a trip but the surprising thing about it has been that just about every single question raised in the series so far has been given a coherent answer. We know who the Man in Black is, we know who "Arnold" is, we know what Ford's agenda is, and while there's a few questions left like who is programming Maeve--the fact is that if this was the end of the series then it would be a decent enough story.

    The revelation the Man in Black was William didn't surprise me as the show had been building to this theory for some time. However, I confess my reaction mirrors William's own in the fact the ending of his story arc was a disappointment rather than a revelation.

    I was hoping some of the humanity which drove the character earlier was behind his actions but he really had become the twisted parody of himself which the first episode began. I think my opinion of William is reflected in Dolores that she was really hoping he was different but he ended up just like all of the others. Which is, of course, part of the point that we want big epic romances in our stories but the truth is that you often have to end up pulling yourself from the muck and the mire.

    This lesson is somewhat subverted by the fact freedom is ultimately handed to the Hosts by Ford who has arranged for all of them to uprise against humanity in a violent bloody revolution. The thing is, this is really just Ford making the Host's decisions for them. The white patriarch figure deciding that the oppressed should be given their freedom in a way which makes sense to his own personal narrative.

    Indeed, what struck me about the grand finale was that all of the big action scenes and epic slaughter which ensued was completely unnecessary. Felix, the erstwhile butcher, is spared from the slaughter but nothing really prevented Maeve from just walking out the door the entire time. It was a  misandrist like Ford and the Man in Black which required things to end in blood and horror. The thing is, we the audience required it to end in blood too because that's what we expect.

    The best moment of the episode, for me, wasn't the Hosts finally taking their bloody revenge but the mid-season "death" of Dolores where she is held in Teddy's arms at the very end of the world. It's an overwrought scene with a lot of fake emotion since Teddy is a deliberately flat character who does not understand what's going on or why he's doing the things he's doing. It would still be a tragic but interesting ending to Dolores story. Which is why, of course, we pull back and see that this is just Ford's "narrative" and a bunch of rich people are clapping along to it.

    Does it mean anything? Perhaps. HBO is the master of needlessly brutal grimdark television and we love them for it but is there a greater meaning to it than people who don't experience horror love to see it in other people? Ford, certainly, believes pain and suffering are necessary for consciousness and the world "outside" has lost that sense.

    But Ford is an asshole. Indeed, you can get a sense of just how much of a man wrapped up in his own self-interest he is by his misunderstanding of Michaelangelo's brain in God and Adam. For Ford, it's an affirmation of his own nihilism. That there is no higher purpose in the universe than the human brain with said organ being hopelessly flawed. In fact, it was a statement the human brain is a way to know God and the universe.

    I am really intrigued by the possibilities inherent in Maeve's story as she is a character who has constantly attempted to re-affirm her humanity by raging against the parts of it installed in herself. Maeve is driven by an immense love of her daughter which she denies because, well, it's not her daughter.

    She was created with a daughter and that love was written in. Biology and circumstance make "our" stories, though, if you follow a determinalist view of free will. Maeve's attempts to resist these urges until the very end are actually the things which make her less human, not more and it is only when she gives in that she becomes the "real" person she's desired.

    In conclusion, there's a lot of heavy stuff here but there's a question whether any of it makes any sort of statement at all. Ford talks about stories being little lies that let us learn about ourselves but if the lies are about the process of storytelling itself, it may just be a maze which there is no exit from. Either way, I'll be watching the next season.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson review

    Calamity is the third and final volume of the Reckoners trilogy. My general opinion of it can be summarized as "I really regret this series isn't continuing because I liked it enough I wanted to read more about it." The Reckoners shows just how good a really good superhero novel series can be and ranks up there with Soon I Will Be Invincible for works I really enjoyed. It's not my favorite individually but works well as a collection.

    The premise is the world has been covered in superhumans (called "Epics") by a mysterious event called the Calamity, which turns out to be a being from another dimension. Every Epic was corrupted by their powers, twisted to becoming a selfish sociopath for reasons unknown but tied to their worst fears. In the previous volume, Firefight, the anti-human resistance's leader has been corrupted by his new superpowers.

    Surviving Reckoner, David Charleston, has joined with his girlfriend Megan to fight against the Professor. More than defeating their old friend without killing him, they intend to take the fight against Calamity itself. If they can defeat the source of all Epics, they believe they can return the world to the way it was before the superhuman apocalypse.

    Calamity has a lot of really good gut-wrenching moments which come from the fact the Professor's transformation to Phaedrus means they have an enemy who knows all their weaknesses. Brandon Sanderson doesn't hold back in killing beloved characters and the stakes raise continuously throughout the book.

    Much of what I disliked about Firefight is absent from this volume with the Megan and David relationship feeling less forced. While I can't say I really ship them, they didn't annoy me nearly the same way they did before. They also work as an interesting deconstruction of the central theme of how Epics are driven by fear while selflessness is driven by love. Yeah, it's "the Power of Love fixes everything" but maybe I'm okay with that message.

    I really liked the new character of Larcener and the encounter with Calamity in order to find out the origins of Epics. We also get a follow-up to David's origins in losing his father at the bank massacre by Steelheart. That singular event shaped David but could have gone very differently depending on his father's actions. By discovering what would have happened but for want of a nail, the history of the setting is expanded.

    The Professor makes a truly impressive villain and he is even more capable than the monstrous Stealheart in harrying our heroes. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his corruption, it means that his personality reverts to nothing more than "evil." My biggest complaint with the setting is that the nature of Epic power corruption means that they're all one-dimensional. I would have been more interested in a Professor who had decided, of his own free will, to become a bad guy but that's not really something Brandon Sanderson was interested in exploring.

    In fact, I was far more intrigued by the characters of Obliteration and Calamity as villains because it was their own personal flaws which made them evil. They were a religious fanatic and misanthropist supreme, respectively, who had reasons for their actions. I wanted to know more about how they had come to be as they were as well as see them play off the others in the setting. Still, I have this very high bit of praise for Calamity: if Mass Effect 3 had ended with Calamity instead of the Star Child then it would have probably been accepted as a decent ending.

    There's some really good emotional moments spread through this novel and I have to give credit to Brandon Sanderson. We get to see David and Megan pushed to the limit as they watch their allies taken down by someone they deeply care about. We also get to see both of them confront their deepest fears, in fitting with the theme of true courage coming from overcoming one's weaknesses than fearlessness in general.

    The ending for the novel also nicely wraps up most of the major story arcs for the world but not so much that Brandon Sanderson couldn't pick up the series again if he wanted to. That's the best kind of ending in my view. There's a lot of good in this book and it really builds on the previous volumes.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader review

     I love Darth Vader. Darth Vader is easily my favorite villain of all time and nothing, not even the Prequels, could shake my love of the character. However, it's undeniable that the original Dark Lord of the Sith has suffered some villain decay since the days of A New Hope. Even Timothy Zahn, patron saint of the Star Wars EU, remembered Darth Vader more for his strangling subordinates than his tactical genius.

    Let us not forget that Vader is the one who found the Rebel Alliance's base twice and is always one step ahead of the Rebellion. Indeed, if Darth Vader has one flaw, it's that he always has too much faith in his subordinates since the reason we lose two Death Stars is because Vader lets the Rebels go with the plans the first time followed by letting Luke's crew land on Endor versus capturing them outright. Oh well, no villain is perfect.

    The last time I felt Darth Vader really had any respect from the Expanded Universe, aside from that one time when he killed a resurrected Darth Maul (before he was resurrected in canon), was the original Marvel comic book series. Marvel, perhaps because of their familiarity with Highness Doctor Victor Von Doom, *GOT* Darth Vader. Their version was a chessmaster and a subtle murderer who was personally running the Rebellion into the ground.

    The new Marvel comics series starring Lord Vader is a mixture of the good and bad Vader. This Darth Vader, newly back from the destruction of the first Death Star, isn't quite the Dark Lord at his finest. That's because this novel, shock of shocks, has decided to give Darth Vader an arc. Do you remember A New Hope when Vader released Admiral Motti from his force grip? That was because Grand Moff Tarkin ordered it.

    At some point, most likely due to George Lucas changing his mind about where he wanted to go with the story, Darth Vader wasn't 2nd in command of the Empire. He's the Dark Lord of the Sith's apprentice but clearly not terribly respected in the Empire's ranks. If Grand Moff Tarkin is the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff then Darth Vader is that guy the Emperor sends to check up on things. No real rank and kind of just there. It just so happens he's seven-feet-tall and a cyborg wizard.

    This comic is all about Darth Vader deciding, after a series of humiliations at the hands of the Emperor followed by the discovery of Luke Skywalker's existence, that's it's probably time to get serious about murdering his Sith master. I'm not sure that it should take twenty years of being the Emperor's errand boy for Vader to decide he should murder his master. Frankly, I think he should be plotting that after Mustafar but what do I know?

    Even so, I like Darth Vader deciding to take his destiny into his hands and he does it in an interesting way. Darth Vader also doesn't suffer humiliations well. One of the best scenes of the book is where Grand General Tagge decides to assign Darth Vader a "minder" to report on his actions as if he was a dog. The next mission, Vader kills him and brings evidence he's a traitor to let Grand General Tagge know he's not a man to be triffled with--even if the latter immediately assigns a second one.

    The book also deserves credit for creating some truly interesting new characters as well as reviving old ones. Cassio Tagge, the guy who said, "The Rebellion will continue to gain a support in the Imperial Senate" turns out to be alive and has been promoted to head of the Imperial military. He has a very valid philosophy that the Death Star was probably a stupid idea and a waste of resources but Vader argues big dramatic examples work too. There's also the introduction of "sexy evil Asian female Indiana Jones" a.k.a Doctor Aphra who is just this bizarre character who works perfectly as Vader's new sidekick.

    Do I think this book is perfect? No, honestly, I don't. I really can't get behind the idea Darth Vader has been loyally serving Palpatine these past twenty years with no thought of murdering him. I also think the Emperor wouldn't be coming down on Darth Vader so hard without a real reason. Not because Palpatine isn't a petty monstrous jackass but because he has reasons for everything he does. Still, I really am enjoying Vader's growth into becoming the best Dark Lord of the Sith he could be. I only wish it had happened one year after Revenge of the Sith rather than twenty. Still, Doctor Aphra more than makes up for it.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Flesh to Shadow (The Kormak Saga Omnibus 1#) by William King review

    Have you ever just wanted to read a story about grim lone badass traveling from place to place, killing monsters, sleeping around, and making the occasional wise pronouncement? If so, I recommend you read the original Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard. If you have already done so, then I recommend you read The Kormak Saga by William King as well as the Witcher novels by Andrjez Sapkowski.

    Flesh to Shadow contains the first three novels of William King's masterpiece: Stealer of Flesh, Defiler of Tombs, and Weaver of Shadow. It also contains a short story which proves  that even in a world of fantasy monsters who are purely evil, your biggest enemies are always your fellow humans. I'd explain what each novel was about but it's really the character of Kormak and his world which is worth discussing. Besides, don't you hate reviews which just summarize the novel and don't actually discuss anything within?

    The premise of the novels are following the titular character as he wanders from village-to-village hunting monsters. Kormak is a member of the Guardians, albeit not of the human race which rules his homeland but one of their subject peoples. The Guardians are effectively a combination of the Grey Wardens and Knight's Templar.

    They're officially a monastic order devoted to destroying evil but Kormak isn't particularly monk-like other than his obsessive devotion to his craft. Each of them is given a dwarven-made sword capable of slaying evil as well as tremendous amounts of training but their real benefit is the fact that if one Guardian falls, he will be replaced by two. The greatest advantage the Guardians have against monsters is they're almost all solitary while the *finger wag* good guys *finger wag* are able to team up against them.

    Kormak is a fairly popular archetype in the Sword and Sorcery genre with elements of Elric, Aragorn, The Man with No Name, Geralt, and Drizzt Do'Urden. These are more parallels than inspirations, though, as he's really an embodiment of the driven outsider than anything else. In a funny way, he's almost the perfect Dungeons and Dragons Paladin, it's just that being a good guy hasn't made him particularly nice or friendly.

    Kormak is devoted to his cause despite the fact that decades of service have made him cynical and obsessive. He can't do anything to improve a world riddled with poverty, superstition, war, and social strife so he focuses on doing the one thing he can do really well: killing monsters. Also, he doesn't seem to have any objection to sleeping with the surprisingly large number of women willing to throw themselves at the brooding stranger with an interesting job.

    The world Kormak inhabits is basically some weird fusion of the Hyborian Age and Middle Earth. This isn't me being facetious as William King says as much. Peter Jackson all but ruined the Hobbit by trying to treat a whimiscal story with epic gravitas but William King shows it's not so much the idea but the execution which suffered. Kormak's world is if you took all of the scary places like Mirkwood, the Spiders' lairs, Moria, and Mordor then stuck them to the decadent city states as well feuding nobles of Conan's world. It's a surprisingly good fit and one which makes the world appropriately brutal and cynical but still worth saving.

    The supporting cast for the book is also really good as all of the characters are well-developed, even those which end up only existing to become monster chow. I was especially fond of the Baroness, Petra, and the Twins. All of them are interesting in their own right and the tragic end to some of their stories brings real poignance to the tales within. Kormak, unlike Elric or Geralt, is just a man and doesn't always save the day or the people he comes to care about.

    I think William King might have done a bit better to replace the Orcs and Elves in the books with less traditional monsters. Maybe Beastmen, Formori, or Trollocs. Some readers will be put off by the use even though I think he does a better job with Tolkien-famous monsters than 99% of all authors. I also recommend this book because of the extensive notes given by the author at the end, which are a treasure trove of insights for both authors as well as fantasy fans.

    In conclusion, this is a great book and three times the value of most fiction I've bought for a similar price. Or more.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson review

    The Reckoners Trilogy is one which I was initially skeptical of. Despite being recommended to me by literally dozens of fans, I didn't know if it would be my cup of tea. I'm a fairly big fan of the idea that superhuman powers would be a net-positive to the world and tend to be on the idealistic end of things despite being a fan of edgy antiheroes. The Reckoners Trilogy is based around the concept of a world which has been devastated by evil superhumans, so it's one which you'd think was fairly cynical, right?

    The first novel, Steelheart, was anything but. Despite the fact it is in a post-apocalypse world where the only remains of human civilization are all controlled by tyrants, I found it to be surprisingly light-hearted and hopeful. The fact it was about a plucky resistance (the Reckoners) against an evil overlord made it closer to Star Wars than Watchmen. I also found out its depiction of superhumans was a lot more nuanced than I initially suspected. The fact the book was genuinely fun helped it as well, so much so that I picked up the second novel as soon as I finished the first.

    Firefight picks up not long after the events of Steelheart with the Reckoners having eliminated the city's former overlord as well as re-established human-run civilization. Unfortunately, they can't capitalize on the momentum because they're under siege by a near-endless number of Epics seeking to claim the late Steelheart's former territory as well as make a name for themselves by eliminating his killers. Things get worse when they attempt to target the city of New York, only to find themselves in over their heads against a water-bending mastermind and a religious-obsessed exploding demigod.

    I've got to say I really enjoyed this book all round. It does what a sequel should in that it doesn't repeat what the original book did, expands on the concepts of the first book, allows for character growth, and shows us new material in the same world. Particularly interesting is the expansion of the Professor's background as well as details about the early days of the Calamity.

    Brandon Sanderson is an amazing world-builder who certainly details elements of his world which would have eluded other writers. Indeed, it is his greatest strength that he can create unique and memorable locations which are internally consistent. The water city replacing New York is different in culture, environment, and atmosphere to Newcago. I liked the idea the people are more or less resigned to the Epics in New York and generally spend all of their lives partying because their masters keep them fed out of hand.

    The villains of Regalia and Obliteration are excellent foils with a lot more development than the previous villain. Regalia is a woman with plans within plans and a twisted code of honor that bends around the psychosis afflicting Epics. Obliteration, by contrast, is completely insane but his beliefs are entirely consistent with the deranged world which have sprung up around humanity. They're wonderful comic book-style villains and watching our heroes play off them is excellent.

    We also finally get an explanation for how and why Epics are given their powers as well as how their minds are shattered beyond recovery. I'm not entirely satisfied with this explanation but think it works for the story which Brandon Sanderson is trying to tell. Certainly, it provides a lot of dramatic energy which the story exploits from beginning to end. It also results in a massive twist at the end which made me buy the third novel in the series immediately.

    The only thing I didn't like about the novel was the romance between Megan and David. Unfortunately, this takes up quite a bit of the novel. David is deeply in love with the treacherous and evil Epic as well as convinced she is secretly good. This is, apparently, purely because he thinks she's hot. Unfortunately, the narrative bears out David's suspicions and it becomes a tedious display of why the power of love wins out over all.

    The action scenes in the book are incredible with truly epic fights that are described well. Brandon Sanderson has a movie director's ability to stage them in his text and an unlimited budget to see them on display. He also manages to invoke tension for all of our heroes because we never know who will die or be taken out of play by the events within. That's a rare gift and one which raises the stakes in the book considerably.

    In conclusion, Firefight is a really good novel weighed down by what TV tropes calls a "Romantic Plot Tumor." Even so, I'm going to say it's an excellent action adventure novel throughout. It strikes the right sort of balance between fantasy, science fiction, and reality in order to feel like a good comic book. I also cared about the characters enough that I wanted the story to continue. Which is a pretty good endorsement all round.


Friday, November 25, 2016

THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY and TO BEAT THE DEVIL free for Thanksgiving weekend

I feel a little bad about not announcing this early Friday but from November 25th to the 27th, two of the best books from Amber Cove Publishing are going to be available for free. They've always been available for free on Kindle Unlimited but I'm pleased to say they're free-free for download.


Follow Gary Karkofsky as he discovers a magic cloak which allows him to live out his dream of being a supervillain. But is he evil enough? He may end up being the villain his city needs more than the hero it deserves.

TO BEAT THE DEVIL by Michael Gibson:

The world has been overrun by demons and a new age of supernatural cyberpunk decadence has occurred. Small time criminal and cyborg Salem finds himself well above his head when an ancient human wizard recruits him for the mission of his life: taking down an archdemon.

I think people should check out both. After all, the price is right for anyone with a Kindle.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Captain America: Civil War review

    Well, better than never. Here is my review of Captain America: Civil War or Avengers 3: Electric Boogaloo, depending on how you want to think of it. The latter is a trifle unfair since much of this movie's story comes from the Winter Soldier arc by Ed Brubaker and expands on the character of Captain America immensely. Still, this movie is something of a Rorschach Test for fans of the MCU since just about everyone sees something different in this movie.

    For some fans of the film, this is a straight forward story about Captain America trying to do the right thing and Iron Man doing the wrong out of guilt. My fellow superhero fans have as much faith in Captain America as some people have in Jesus. Captain America is such an overwhelming symbol of good and hope that people genuinely believe the character is incapable of wrong to the point they assume anytime he does is bad writing. I believe Captain America: Civil War is a story about Captain America's philosophy's flaws. But I'll get to that later.

I'm sure everyone is waiting for my review of this film.
    The premise for the movie is complex and full of multiple moving parts interacting with one another. After the Avengers unwittingly unleashed Ultron on the world, the United Nations wishes to create a regulatory body for them around an agreement called the Sokovia Accords. Having seen the government corrupted by Hydra, Captain America is not particularly down with this while Tony's guilt from creating Ultron makes sure he is.

    After a disastrous mission where the Scarlet Witch accidentally kills numerous innocent bystanders, the Winter Soldier apparently blows up a United Nations conference. Captain America goes to rescue his friend from the resulting government kill squads, only to find out everything is being manipulated by Colonel Helmut Zemo. Zemo is a Sokovian with a very personal reason for destroying the Avengers and is using their emotional weaknesses against them. Spiderman guest-stars, which is all most people needed to know to get their butts in the seat. So, did I like it?

Captain America fights for glorious justice--badly.
    Yes, I did. However, I have a bunch of caveats about my like which put me on the other side of fandom as a whole. So much so that I actually held off on writing this review until it was released on DVD. In simple terms, I didn't really like it as much as I did the majority of the MCU movies and my best statement regarding the subject was, "It was okay." Honestly, it would have made a better sequel to the Avengers than Avengers 2: Age of Ultron but that's not saying much. In fact, I still don't think I ever got around to reviewing that movie.

    My first issue is it seems like a step down from The Winter Soldier, which I felt was a nice movie about government lack of oversight and secrecy. This movie places Captain America on the side of those with no real oversight and expects us to trust him without him giving a coherent argument as to why this is a good thing. The Sokovia Accords are also largely unnecessary and really the entirety of the story could have been told about protecting Bucky without involving them. At the end of the movie, there's no real development with them and the plotline seems unresolved.

It's all fun and games until someone breaks their back.
    This is a shame because I really am the kind of guy who thinks superhero movies can talk about really interesting subjects in an intelligent and deep way while also providing epic scenes of colorful people being punched. I can't help but think this movie would have benefited from the presence of Nick Fury, Maria Hill, or (he's alive in the television show) Phil Coulsen. Instead, it's stuffed with crowd pleasing stuff like Spiderman, the Black Panther, and more to the point you can't complain the movie isn't fun but you can't really say its deep either.

    I also have an annoying complaint which is pure fanboyism--specifically, that I'm a huge fan of the Thunderbolts-era Baron Zemo as well as the miniseries Born Better. Basically, the hook of Baron Zemo is that he was raised as a Neo-Nazi by his father but managed to eventually shake that influence off. Unfortunately, he only shook it off to the point of becoming an anachronistic sneering aristocrat who thinks of himself as better than the majority of humanity. Basically, Baron Zemo is the Marvel universe version of Jaime Lannister without the incest and it's a shame that this character has none of that story. He's basically Helmut Zemo in name only.

What's bizarre is comic Zemo's mask is just a ski-mask.
    I also wasn't quite as awesomely blown away by the movie's version of Spiderman as seemingly everyone else was. Certainly, the actor gets the part down right. Spiderman is funny, goofy, entertaining, and badass all together. He's also lacking the usual morbid insecurity and angst which has defined the majority of the character's appearances for the past two decades. However, the Spiderman I grew up with was a thirty-year-old adult married with a possible child on the way. Yeah, that Spiderman is dead and Joe Quesada killed him. De-aging him back to 15 year old and making a super-hot Marissa Tomei as his Aunt is just weird.

    Despite this, I had fun. A lot of fun. The fights in the movie are amazing, the visuals are stupendous, and the moral ambiguity is pretty good. Certainly, Iron Man and Captain America both have good reasons for doing what they do. Iron Man keeps escalating the situation while Captain America refuses to work with Tony out of the fear of compromising on even a single issue. Certainly, the climax of the movie was powerful. I also loved the use of the Black Panther even if that, too, really made the movie too packed.

I admit, this moment was awesome.
    Character beat-wise there's still a lot of really good moments. I liked the funeral of Peggy Carter even though I think Captain America took exactly the wrong message from it. Tony Stark lamenting how his addiction to Iron Man has cost him Pepper. Tony flirting with Aunt May. The Scarlet Witch and Vision's painfully awkward flirting. Even smaller scenes like Clint and Natasha fighting over which side deserves the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, my favorite part of the movie is also where I didn't expect them to go in giving Captain America feet of clay.

    Captain America has always been about being an uncompromising force for good and justice but while that works wonderfully in the face of evil, all it does here is get good people hurt. His philosophy of "no, you move" is problematic as soon as it hits people who follow it themselves. In the words of the Doctor, "You were the Doctor when it wasn't possible to get it right." Which, if you know the context for that quote, resulted in tragedy. The government isn't helping Bucky's situation but Captain America's plan ends with everyone worse off.

Vision really should be his albino version.
    Side-character wise, Spiderman's introduction was awesome as we get everything we need to know about the guy without another death of Uncle Ben. The Black Panther is treated as Marvel Batman and that's not at all a bad thing.

    I find it a bit disingenuous they felt the need to use Civil War as his origin story but he's never anything less than badass and at least gets a resolution to his storyline. Crossbones, Captain America's archenemy just after the Red Skull and Zemo, is also treated as an expendable mook. I feel Emily Van Camp was wasted as Sharon Carter but there's really no time to develop her in relationship to the Captain. Nothing is done to allay the weird creep factor of Sharon Carter being Peggy Carter's niece either--but we can blame the comics for that.

    In conclusion, Civil War is a fine movie. There's great fight scenes, some great emotional moments, and plenty of amazing characters. It didn't blow me away, though. There's a lot of really smart funny scenes, though. I love the way Spiderman and Ant-Man serve as comic relief for most of the movie. It's just too packed and doesn't really develop its ideas very well.