11th Mar2019

‘Captain Marvel’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jason Brigger

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

capt-marvel-uk-poster

Captain Marvel arrived in theaters this weekend and is a departure for a Marvel film as the film takes place primarily in the 1990s and is a quasi-prequel for the Avengers films. The film is also the first female-led movie from Marvel (here’s hoping Black Widow is the second) and fills in the background that prior Marvel films left out regarding the universe.

Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot that has been knocked down many times in life but never stops fighting for her place in the world. Danvers, after a test flight goes wrong, unknowingly becomes hand-picked by the alien race, the Kree, to become their super solider, but in doing so, Danvers’ previous life is wiped from her mind. Danvers’ objective is to turn the tide for the Kree in their intergalactic war against the shape-shifting alien race, the Skrulls.

Danvers, after being captured by the Skrulls, escapes to Earth to seek out scientist Dr. Wendy Lawson, played wonderfully by Annette Bening, who created an invention that may bring peace to the galaxy. Danvers also attempts to reconnect to her forgotten past and along the way is joined by a younger Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), rookie agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and a cat named Goose, as they team up to stop the Skrulls from becoming a more powerful force and wiping out the Kree.

The Good:

  • Brie Larson. Brie Larson is a good actress but superhero films are always a bit of a risk for actors/actresses as they will either be loved or hated by the fans of the genre with no middle ground. Luckily, Brie Larson does a fantastic job bringing this strong, smart and humorous hero to the big screen. Larson shines in her interactions with the more experienced Jackson, which is good since they are together in about 80% of the film, but she also brings the humor that only Marvel superheroes do in these films. Make no mistake, Larson also does a wonderful job in playing Captain Marvel and conveying how powerful this superhero truly is in this universe. I’m looking forward to her interaction with the original Avengers cast in Avengers: Endgame and after one outing, Larson has shown not only does she belong in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but so does Captain Marvel.
  • Homage to the past. Beginning with a tear-inducing opening credits scene dedicated to Stan Lee, the film does a great job paying homage to the past. Characters, both major and minor, from previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe return and in doing so, provides the audience with more backstory on the characters that wasn’t provided in their original films. Without spoiling it, a few minor characters from Guardians of the Galaxy return, and one major one, and while some of the characters seem to be thrown in just to get a reaction, overall all of them provide a more fun experience to the film.
  • Ben Mendelsohn should be in all future Marvel films. Mendelsohn plays Talos, the shape-shifting Skrull, and not only does he bring his usual acting pedigree to the film, he outshines everyone except Larson. Villains in Marvel films are not always given a proper backstory but not only does the film give time for Talos’ story to be told, the directors give Mendelsohn the opportunity to allow Talos to become realistic and organic.

The Bad:

  • The de-aging of characters. A minor issue but the de-aging computer software Marvel uses for their films is either hit or a miss. The younger version of Samuel L. Jackson looks good in the film but the de-aging of Agent Coulson and Ronin (Lee Pace) are average at best and can be distracting at the expense of the story. I applaud studios for attempting to use the software as it opens up film opportunities for actors/actresses and allows the audience to see their favorite characters in more films without recasting them but overall, the software has some issues to work out.

The Middling:

  • The first act. The film starts off slowly and after the first act I had some reservations about it but thankfully, the film’s last two acts are able to bring the story together and provide more action than most origin films. The film builds wonderfully on Danvers being underestimated and overlooked her whole life and once Danvers realizes her full strength and power, the payoff is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during a Marvel film.
  • It’s an origin story. Most audiences are tired of superhero origin stories, I’m looking at you Spider-Man and Batman, but Captain Marvel does a decent job of providing a fresh take on the typical origin story. Since Danvers has no recollection of her past, Danvers’ background is told in quick flashes in her mind, providing a faster tempo to her origin than the stereotypical twenty minute origin story that occurs in most films. It also allows for Danvers to be the audience’s unreliable narrator so the audience never fully sees everything in her past, just the important pieces that move the story forward.
  • The Kree. Jude Law plays a Kree soldier but if you asked me what his name was, I couldn’t tell you without looking it up online because of the lack of time is given to flesh out the Kree in this film. The Kree soldiers in Danvers’ platoon could be great, they look cool and flash some fun weapons, but we are never given a proper background on them and are treated only to show the Kree actually has an army on their planet. As good as the film treated and provided depth to the Skrulls, it failed in providing substance to the Kree.

Final Grade: B (Good)

Captain Marvel may not be in the top echelon of Marvel films but it should be in the top ten. The film at times becomes a “popcorn” film but after seeing how DC tends to go darker in their films, Captain Marvel is a delight in its less serious tone. The film is a good continuation of a more diverse Marvel universe and Brie Larson is so infectious in her portrayal of Carol Danvers that you can’t help but root for her character. After a slow first act, the film finds its sweet spot and allows the last two-thirds of the film to be a fun ride.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.
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