‘Captain Marvel’ // Film Review

Djimon Hounsou, Brie Larson, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, and Algenis Perez Soto in Captain Marvel (2019)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us movies based on characters that nobody has heard of. Non-comic book readers went into anything like Doctor Strange or Guardians of the Galaxy not knowing zip and ended up loving the heroes in the long run. Now, we finally add Captain Marvel into the mix. Being that it’s the first out of three MCU movies being released this year and the first female-led movie in this universe, we shall see if she’s truly the one to defeat Thanos.

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), or known as Vers on the Kree planet Hala, doesn’t remember a single thing about Earth. She’s a member of the Kree Starforce trained by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her emotions. Fighting against a group of aliens called Skrulls, shapeshifters who can become any person led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), she crash-lands on Earth in 1995 while on the run from the Skrulls.

Were my expectations high for Captain Marvel? Of course, they were. But the road leading up to the release was challenging to ignore. Some say the trailers were underwhelming, Larson looks boring in the role or the fact trolls were complaining about a female lead superhero movie. Fan culture at its worse, people. The amount of ignorance that Captain Marvel has gotten before it even came out was disrespectful. Went into this with an open mind and view this from my own opinion. I can easily say while the latest MCU film is a mixed bag, there’s still some entertainment value found in here.

Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson in Captain Marvel (2019)

Larson was the perfect choice to play the titular heroine back three years ago. Carol got some sass and intimidation for this fish-out-of-water character who’s basically Jason Bourne because of her memory loss and with glowing fists. Love the Oscar-winning actress, and with that being said, her performance was good, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was great. Most of her line delivery comes off as a bit dull, which is disappointing coming from an actress like her.

There are a lot of scenes with Larson and Samuel L. Jackson as a young Nick Fury working for S.H.I.E.LD. as an agent, and they have perfect chemistry with each other. By the way, the digital de-aging effects on Jackson are probably the best I’ve seen since it doesn’t become seamless as the film carries on.

The action sequences were above average, even though there wasn’t a particular moment that stood out. The visual effects were on par with the other MCU movies. Witnessing everything on the IMAX screen to take in the huge scope was a step up.

Mendelsohn, the decade’s go-to actor to playing the villain, as Talos was surprisingly really good in a role that kept my attention whenever he’s onscreen. It wasn’t until later on where I started to actually care more for Talos. The Skrulls themselves are a pretty cool race.

Ben Mendelsohn in Captain Marvel (2019)

The film’s real MVP: Goose the cat. Named after the character from Top Gun, this adorable feline made me smile in every scene, and this is coming from someone who isn’t a huge cat person.

Co-writing and directing duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Mississippi Grind) take charge in helming Captain Marvel, and I couldn’t help but wonder why their direction wasn’t all that energetic. I don’t know if it’s because of their indie background before this, but there’s just something about this origin story that doesn’t feel all that unique or feeling like anything we haven’t seen before. Because of that, it can seem predictable and having no emotional payoff. We don’t get a lot of backstory about Carol on Earth except for flashbacks, which I do find as a justifiable reason enough to care about her, for the most part.

Knowing that the typical Marvel humor will be thrown in here, some of the humor worked well for me, while a handful of the jokes fell forced.

Brie Larson in Captain Marvel (2019)

But I can’t ignore the flaws that I had with the film. The first act was kind of a mess to get through because of its pacing and it takes a while for the story to really get going. That’s what happens when you have so many writers on this, including the directors. Nothing was giving me the “wow” factor when the action takes place until the third act started. Since this takes place in the mid-1990s, it was a good idea to have the setting in that decade. And there’s gonna be a ton of references that either hit or just leans too much on nostalgia.

Some are gonna love Captain Marvel, and some will find it weak. It isn’t the strongest entry in the MCU with its formulaic story and can sometimes feel a bit messy, but it’s still capable of being fun for fans alike. This shouldn’t necessarily be the studio’s answer to Wonder Woman and the success that brought, but it can be rewatchable despite being sort of a letdown. Hopefully, we should see this character used more perfectly later on down the road.

Grade: B-

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