'Captain Marvel' Review (2019)
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?: SURE, WHY NOT
IMAX?: YES - 3D?: UNNECESSARY - MID-CREDITS?: YES - POST-CREDITS?: YES
BRIE LARSON’S RELATIVELY FLAT PERFORMANCE COUPLED WITH STAKES THAT NEVER QUITE FEEL PERSONAL DRAG THIS OTHERWISE ENJOYABLE, IF NOT BY-THE-NUMBERS, MCU ORIGIN STORY DOWN, IF ONLY BY A LITTLE.
If, when you’re reading this, you have no idea who Captain Marvel is, then play a little catch up before continuing, with our article on who she, or he, or..they….on who Captain Marvel is. If you already know, or you’ve already read, then let’s continue. As with many origin tales, this one begins with flashbacks and is rife with them throughout the film. It’s a tired gimmick but the film is enjoyable enough that it doesn’t bother you throughout. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) or ‘Vers’, as the character is called by her Kree contemporaries (having no memory of her past) is a hot-headed, emotional warrior being watched over and trained for battle by her commander (Jude Law). A good picture to have in your mind is a far less arrogant and brash Thor from his first outing.
It turns out that she has been on the Kree home planet Hala for the last six years with only nuggets of memory that show themselves via the usual methods of emotional and physical impact. That turmoil within her makes her commander and the Kree Supreme Intelligence, an all-knowing A.I. that governs the Kree, concerned about whether she is ready for battle or not. Nevertheless, the go-ahead is given and she and her fellow Starforce members undertake a dangerous rescue mission. Things go awry and Vers is captured by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), a Skrull commander, and his crew. Aboard their ship, the Skrulls begin to root around in her memories for any information they can obtain about a scientist who appears to be a mentor of sorts to Carol, who has developed an engine capable of light-speed travel. Memories surface and awaken Carol who begins her escape.
It’s here we get a real look at just how powerful Captain Marvel is. The fight choreography, action and visuals here are all what you’d expect from a Marvel movie. They don’t disappoint (though everything pales in comparison to the fight sequences in Winter Soldier), but they do leave you wanting each sequence to have more in it. Danvers’ escape takes her to Earth circa 1995, where the first of many references to the 90’s takes place, as seen in the trailer, via a Blockbuster video store. Action movies involving aircraft can be seen all around to homage the inspiration for the style and tone of the film. It’s here that a young, fully-haired, fully-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and an equally fully-haired Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) arrive on the scene and meet Cap for the first time. Things lead to things and trust is developed all around. Enough so to explain why Nick Fury’s final moments in the after-credits scene in Infinity War were so meaningful, on a personal level. The two go on a journey to bring about the end of a potential invasion of the alien Skrulls as well as find out who she is and just what happened prior to the last six years of her life.
So let’s just be clear here. This is a fine movie. It’s not great. It’s certainly not bad. If I had to put it in a list of MCU movies ordered by quality, I’d put it ahead of Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World, otherwise good movies that get bogged down by one thing or another. While the negatives aren’t enough to say it’s a bad film, they’re enough to take away from the appreciation of otherwise great work by cast and crew. Much has been said across the board about Larson’s take on the character. I fall into the “it was ok” category. I never quite felt anything from her. It seemed as if she was going for the stoic exterior/emotional turmoil interior thing, but I never quite got the nuance through her performance. ScarJo’s take on Black Widow does that well, along with Jeremy Renner’s take on Hawkeye, but it’s not quite sold here for me. Apart from that, she was amazing. Her sequences with Jude Law and Samuel L. Jackson were fantastic from a shared standpoint, but there’s always something missing with her. It just may be the dialogue. I will say that she appears in the after credits scene and the air about her was very different. It was a very short interaction but the depth I wanted throughout this movie was all over the screen. So there’s hope on that front.
Jude Law was fantastic, as usual. Once shit hits the fan, you never quite get enough from him, but prior to that, he provided an emotional grounding that was necessary for the film. I don’t know what the future holds for his character, because whether or not he dies in the film has no bearing on a comic book movie, but I do hope to see him again in a role with some more heft to it. Samuel L. Jackson was wonderful as well. The Nick Fury of 1995 is completely different than the Nick Fury of “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative”. The buddy cop relationship between he and Danvers is wonderful and I’d love to see a reunion between the two at some point. Another things that bothered me though was how they treated Maria Rambeaux (Lashana Lynch). She was supposed to be Danvers’ best friend in the Airforce, as per the trailers, but they gave so much time to Nick Fury that she fell by the wayside. It’s a shame because we could never get emotionally invested in her or their relationship, so some of their dialogue didn’t mean too much, when it was supposed to mean everything. Take 5-10 mins away from Fury and give it to her and we have a much, much better movie, in my opinion.
The writers/directors did a great job for the most part, but I’m saddened to say, as far as filmmaking quality, this one is a step backward. Again, as much as some of these acne-laden, basement dwelling, bottom-feeding misogynists who are review bombing the film would have you believe it to be a bad film with bad performances only meant to shove feminism down your throat, it is simply not true. It’s a fine film. I wish it was as good as Wonder Woman was but you can’t win em’ all. So go see it. If you’re into the visual spectacle, pick it up in IMAX. This isn’t one of those I’d go see in IMAX if I wasn’t into visuals though. See it, even if just to see if you can tell the difference between the Danvers of this movie and the one of the after credits scene. Also, you can tell something about her powers from that scene too. No spoilers though ;)