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Captain Marvel (2019) - Movie Review

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Captain Marvel

So here we are, staring down the tail end of the MCU’s Phase 3, with only Avengers: End Game remaining. Marvel had already triumphantly pumped us for the inevitable finale, but in an interesting move, they have made the penultimate film in Phase 3 a somewhat new element. It both introduces a new character, interestingly with the connective tissue of 20 films tied to it, and it speaks to what will come next and beyond. No easy feat.

The temptation is to go into a little of the history of this character from the comics, but I’m not going to. Sufficed to say, the Carol Danvers of the comics has a long and storied history. At the heart of the film’s Carol Danvers is her search of self, so to spill any further detail of her history would be a disservice.

"to sum it up in a couple of words, is enjoyably competent. It’s far from perfect this one, but it deftly handles its responsibilities to the larger universe"


 

This, the 21st feature of the MCU, sees a human amnesiac female, imbued with mysterious and powerful abilities. Vers, as she is known by her adopted alien guardians, the Kree, is trying hard to prove herself within the ranks of the Starforce. On her very first mission, Vers is captured by the Kree’s mortal enemy, the Skrulls—shape-shifting creatures—and tortured for information. Her torture and escape from this enemy awakens segmented memories that start to reveal who she really is.

Turns out her name is Carol Danvers, and her assumed role, and that of all the players in her off world life, may not be what she believes them to be. When Danvers crosses paths with 1990s era Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, the mysteries of her actual life and current one begin to merge, and she must figure out what to do.

First off, casting an Academy Award winner in the lead was the right choice. A character like Captain Marvel could easily have drifted into the realm of un-relatable in the hands of the lesser performer. Like Superman, there is always a danger of losing humanity in the shadow of such unrelenting power. Yet, Brie Larson’s performance shows weakness and doubt and anxiety, she conveys a smart mouth with a tinge of isolation and sadness beautifully, without overdoing it. She immediately watchable and following her on the path of self discovery is easy.

Larson is supported by a stellar cast, including Annette Benning, Ben Mendelson, Jude Law, and Sam Jackson just to name a few. Her interplay with Jackson’s Fury is especially enjoyable. As is the cat--the cat steals many a scene for this reviewer.

Story is where the film ratchets down the dial a little. It’s a layered story that combines a mystery, MCU history, some comedy, some drama, and space battles to boot. It’s a lot to be frank. And while any one of the aforementioned elements (on their own) is good, the combination of them sometimes drowns their efficacy out from each other. It is a testament to the skills of everyone involved that this doesn’t fail, but if I’m to be absolutely honest, my mind started to wander a bit throughout the unending action. There are also a few moments of female empowerment that are on the nose and are going to incite the butt-hurt anti-feminists of the world even further. These were overdone moments that are completely unnecessary. Larson is the lead and all the example of woman’s equality one needs; she is spectacular and belongs in that role. She shows with the talent in her little finger that female led movies are every bit the equal of the boy’s club (as did Wonder Woman) and doesn’t need over the top, contrived moments to hammer home that studios are finally starting to give woman their rightful place as equals. Don’t pander, Disney. It’s insulting to your lead and your audience.Captain Marvel

The score by Pinar Toprak, the first female composer to do one of these, also effectively draws some emotional and heroic moments throughout, but again is just not quite there. The intercutting of many 90s songs tend, again, to drown out some of the score’s effect. It isn’t to say the songs aren’t welcome, but I found some the transitions from score to song a tad jarring and counterintuitive to what was happening on screen.

My last, spoiled First World, gripe is some of the effects. Disney had deep pockets and access to the best effects wizards in the business. But some of the effects, especially toward the tail end of the film, seemed unpolished. I got a bit of a Roger Rabbit vibe (a 90s movie ironically) in a few shots that took me out of the spectacle. It’s a minor thing, really. The film, as a whole, looks terrific.

Captain Marvel, if I am to sum it up in a couple of words, is enjoyably competent. It’s far from perfect this one, but it deftly handles its responsibilities to the larger universe it now belongs to. Its lead, Larson lands a solid first strike for the next era in Marvel films, and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with.

3 stars

Captain Marvel - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language.
Runtime:
124 mins
Director
: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writer:
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast:
Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn
Genre
: Action | Adventure
Tagline:
Higher. Further. Faster.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I know a renegade soldier when I see one. Never occurred to me that one might come from above"
Theatrical Distributor:
Disney/Marvel
Official Site: https://movies.disney.com/captain-marvel
Release Date:
March 8, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races..

Captain Marvel

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Captain Marvel - Movie Review

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