08th Mar2019

‘Captain Marvel’ Review (No Spoilers)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Brie Larson, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Chuku Modu, Matthew Maher | Written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet | Directed by Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden

captain-marvel-imax-poster

The hotly anticipated Captain Marvel, starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson in the titular role and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, finally hits cinema screens on the hot heels of Avengers: Infinity War. Taking place during the early nineties, Marvel’s latest finds the eponymous character on strange planet B-53 also known as Earth while she reluctantly tries to investigate her own life, lived through fleeting past memories while an impending invasion of Earth by the Skrulls begins its foundations.

Captain Marvel is undoubtedly a film that gets better and better as it unfolds. The opening first act is – quite frankly – a little bit of a mess. It takes a similar approach as Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, achieved in a non-cyclical narrative, completing the story towards the second act; resulting in a shared ground with the audience as the third act unfolds for both Carol Danvers and us, the viewer. Ultimately revealing key details and story via flashbacks that work sufficiently well to gain understanding AND the desired emotional impact – however, with what is now such a cliché and conventional manner of storytelling, it’s sooner rather than later that the puzzles slip into perfect pieces of simple and clear plotting. The editing is also far too forthright in the first act. It’s on the back foot immediately trying to cover expositional ground via character threads that don’t particularly work with the inadequately realised and rushed world building and depth available.

The second act picks up as it means to go on and doesn’t let the side down, until those much-desired post-credit scenes appear (of which I am not at liberty to divulge but are certainly in there). The pacing eventually frees up and instead of those ghastly second act CGI fights the MCU has sadly become a staple for, we’re treated with weighted character moments that result in meaningful depth on display. Perfectly symbolised by a terrific performance from Brie Larson – who brings a captivating and compelling gravitas to a role that could have easily fallen to the wayside of a generic bore. Larson doesn’t necessarily treat the character as a role, much like her contemporaries have and still do (of which is not a sin, especially with what screenplays they’re dealt) but more so a living breathing person. A person that is stricken with an identity crisis, albeit with sizeable charisma and traits that define her with what is full of emotional compassion and moral sanity.

Samuel L. Jackson and Jude Law are given significant screen time and the result is often a highly entertaining spectacle, especially on the former’s part. Jackson, on what must be his umpteen starring role in this ever-ongoing series puts forth a nearly freeing performance of Nick Fury that hasn’t been touched upon yet, even with all his layers and depth showcased. The role is fresh, vibrant and what feels like a truly delightful character to inhabit. Law gets to stretch his action chops a little but side-lined much of the show to allow others to take centre stage. Without spoiling anything else in depth I’d say that much of the other supporting cast is strongly underwhelming and frequently non-existent to the plot. Resulting in a strange case of is fan service that does not work and fills the film up to the brim with much-unneeded screen time and threads that aren’t sufficiently aligned nor beneficial to the overall story, aside to reference the house that built it. Ben Mendelsohn is – however – the one that steals the show here with an utterly delightful turn as villain Talos. A character actor such as Mendelsohn playing what might be his 100th villain still manages to find depth, charisma and even charm to a role that should be on paper significantly one note yet brought forward is a rather captivating and unexpected turn full of enthusiasm and vitality.

Larson even makes do with a somewhat saturated screenplay, by writer-directors Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, that feels like it hasn’t evolved nor developed in the cave of Marvel headquarters since 2008. It isn’t messy by any means, in fact with five credited story writers on board its actually significantly restraint in all manners of direction. It knows exactly where it starts and finishes a feat contextually that is surely a positive when one thinks of the sheer scope at their fingertips. It’s just sadly slightly underwhelming and hastened to cover so much lost ground and with that mistake the film ruptures and sabotages much of the relationship between character and audience that would’ve stood it so impeccably out of the crowd.

Captain Marvel is in cinemas now.

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