Blu-ray 3D Review: Captain America: Civil War

Blu-ray 3D releases don't come at you much better than this.

By , Columnist
In this year's battle of the superhero vs. superhero beat-em-ups, there is no doubt which movie came out the winner. Captain America: Civil War had more hyperbole in its title but the absence of alienating symbolism and a lighter tone gave it much broader appeal than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

That accessible approach is also of benefit to Blu-ray 3D release, which is about as colorful and bright as you are likely to see from this format. One of the biggest issues with 3D movies on TV has traditionally been that viewing them through glasses makes them darker. Movies like Batman v Superman can become almost unwatchable at points because the dull tones and frequent night scenes mean the action can be little more than a blur.

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The sharpness of Captain America: Civil War is so striking at times that it will seem like a step down after watching it once to see it again in anything less than full HD. There is no apparent loss of detail in still objects that results from watching through 3D glasses and the colors generally seem as vibrant as they do in the 2D version.

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That being said, the action sequences can seem blurry at times when combatants are going at it in close-up. This is particularly evident in the fight at Bucky Barnes' apartment, where everything happens so fast, it's hard to keep up. While this makes the sequence feel frantic overall, there are moments when the speed of movement itself is distracting.

In most cases, however, 3D enhances the big set pieces. The Vienna explosion is particularly impressive when the smoke billows up from the ground. The Berlin airport face-off is also feels more immersive thanks to the sense of depth that 3D gives this smartly-choreographed group fighting sequence.

Notwithstanding these virtues, it's also true to say that Captain America: Civil War exemplifies the issue that has always undermined the mainstream appeal of 3D as a home video format: you don't need it to appreciate good films.

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This Captain America film succeeded largely as a result of the cool factor that comes from seeing superheroes take it to each other. Its real strength, though, was in the character moments that made it possible to see both sides and believe in the dilemma the heroes were facing (it certainly wasn't the conspiracy plot, which was overcomplicated, too reliant on convenience and undermined by some big holes).

The Blu-ray 3D combo pack comes with the standard 2D BD version and a Disney Movies Anywhere or iTunes digital copy. It also has a decent set of special features. These comprise a two-part ‘Making of…' documentary that covers key points in the development of the plot and the main characters. Much of this has the usual self-congratulatory tone, with everyone saying what a great job the production team did. Yet, most of what they say isn't wide of the mark and there are some interesting anecdotes and details in amongst the brief soundbites.

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The other two main extras are featurettes that give a brief account of where Captain America: Civil War fits into the chronology of the Captain America and Iron Man film series. Both are flimsy but interesting enough to be worth watching at least once. Other than that, there is a brief sneak peek at the upcoming Doctor Strange movie, a gag reel and some outtakes that don't add much to the movie.

Ultimately, Captain America: Civil War is not an essential buy on Blu-ray 3D because it's good enough that it won't be any less enjoyable in 2D. Like all good films, it gets its depth from the writing and no additional impact is added by coupling that with 3D video. Still, as an exceptional 3D hi-def transfer, it should be on the shelves of fans of this format.

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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