Captain Marvel (2019)

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

Screenplay: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet

124 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language.

 

Captain Marvel, much to the chagrin of sexists and trolls, is good. Take that!

Vers (Brie Larson, Room, Basmati Blues), a member of the Kree Star Force team with no memory of her life until the last six years, has been taken captive by the Skrulls, a shapeshifting alien race, and when she escapes, she finds herself crash-landing on Earth. Aided by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction, The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Vers begins to uncover secrets of her past life on Earth. She is pursued by the Skrulls, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Robin Hood), on her way to finding her past and her connection to a mysterious woman she does not remember named Dr. Lawson (Annette Bening, American Beauty, Life Itself).

Captain Marvel is filled with spoilers, so I avoided as much as I could, but the film is thick with mythology. Too thick at times and too thing at others. The screenplay has some holes and plotting issues, having perhaps traded hands too many times. It’s the biggest problem with the film. Not enough time is given to developing the various members of the Star Force, which would give more purpose to their goals. There’s also no understanding of Vers’s superpowers. They appear limitless in the film. No boundaries are given which limits the stakes.

Brie Larson is pretty solid in her MCU debut as Vers. Her best work in the film comes from her great chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. The two actors have worked together on three previous films and, in Captain Marvel, a true comradery is formed. These two characters form a bond that really works well. I also liked her interactions with Lashana Lynch (Brotherhood, TV’s Bulletproof), who portrays Monica Rambeau, someone who knew Vers during her time on Earth and holds many secrets to who she was. I hope these two get more time together in future MCU installments.

Jackson and Clark Gregg (Spinning Man, TV’s The New Adventures of Old Christine) return to the MCU, playing their younger selves. The CG de-aging is so great in this film. The MCU is known for de-aging their actors in flashbacks, and each film seemingly gets better. Captain Marvel is the best version of this tech. Not once with Fury did I really think about the age difference. Clark Gregg had one scene where he looked a little glossy, but overall it didn’t pull me out of the film.

Outside of Jackson and Gregg, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Serenity) and Lee Pace (The Fall, Driven) also return to the MCU as Korath and Ronan, having previously appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy. Unlike Jackson and Gregg, these two aren’t given all that much to do. It’s nice to see some more interconnectivity in the MCU, I feel like Korath is on the verge of more development but never quite reaches it, while Pace appears in essentially a cameo appearance. He’s just not given anything worthwhile to do.

Ben Mendelsohn is under thick makeup to play Talos, leader of the Skrulls who are pursuing Vers and Fury, and he’s so much more fun than most other actors would be under all that makeup. Mendelsohn is having fun here, and that’s noticeable. It’s a tough line to walk as a villain to be fun and still threatening, but his performance really works in light of his character arc.

An area where the film stumbles is from directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who are dealing with their first big budget film. Marvel has a tendency to get great success in this arena, but I feel like Boden and Fleck are in over their heads with the action. Their skills lie in the drama between characters, but when action happens, it doesn’t feel exciting in the way that it should. This is particularly noticeable in the finale. I didn’t get a sense of the direction in the action, and it was unfocused.

Captain Marvel had a tall order. It was the first solo female-led film in the MCU, the first film to be released following the death of Stan Lee (the way this is handled in the film is exemplary), has to lead into Avengers: Endgame, and became the target of asshole trolls. For the most part, it handles all of these problems very well. Outside of a muddled script and some directing issues, it’s a very fun time at the movies with a terrific 90s flavor and soundtrack, and an MCU movie to push forward into the Post-Endgame slate of the franchise.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger, click here.

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, click here.

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, click here.

For my review of Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, click here.

For my review of Leythum’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer, click here.

For my review of Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, click here.

For my review of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, click here.

For my review of Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War, click here.

For my review of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, click here.

For my review of Jon Watts’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, click here.

For my review of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, click here.

For my review of Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, click here.

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