#REVIEW: “CAPTAIN MARVEL”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Vers (Brie Larson) is still learning how to use her incredible powers. She knows very little of her past, but knows she is part of an intergalactic war between the Kree and the Skrulls. After she crash lands on Earth circa 1995, she teams up with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to find out more about the weapon that may help end the war – and hopefully, the secrets of her mysterious past.
10 years and 20 movies later, Marvel Studios has finally given us a film centered on a lone female hero, Captain Marvel. The Film is an origin story, but is done in a way that offsets and revises the typical format. It also acts as a period piece set in the 1990s and the behind-the-scenes team use that to add in as many references and tracks as they possibly can. Some are cringe-worthy, but many of them brought a smile to my face. And as expected, the special effects are top notch. The battles and powers look great, but the work done to de-age Jackson to look 20+ years younger is positively spectacular (sadly, the work done to de-age Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson is not nearly as good).
But the problem with Captain Marvel is how average it is. It feels like a Marvel film, but lacks the spark that made films like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War feel unique. I did not go in expecting Captain Marvel to be groundbreaking or transcendent, but I also did not expect it to feel overly-manufactured and often completely disingenuous. It was hyped up as something truly special, but ended up being just another cog in the MCU machine. Worse, it sets up storylines and characters for future sequels and includes a painfully overused MacGuffin from previous films, but it all feels about as inconsequential as Thanos’ snap will after Avengers: Endgame. There are still some surprises for long time fans and true believers (when the Film is not breaking continuity) and some honest laughs, but I cannot help but feel a little cheated.
While the content is problematic, the acting is a little stronger. Larson is quite good as the titular hero, but has trouble overcoming the Script’s stranglehold. She is rarely afforded the chance to make the role her own, instead often awkwardly succumbing to forced humour and a sarcastic tone intended to transform her into the female Tony Stark. But Larson is given some moments to soar magnificently, mostly when she is grounded or paired off with Lashana Lynch, who plays her Earth-bound friend Maria Rambeau. They have a distinct chemistry and rapport, and Lynch brings a quiet intimacy to the Film that really helps to elevate both characters. It would not be a stretch to suggest there might be a subtle lesbian subtext to their relationship, which would be a major first for a Marvel film.
Lynch’s work here is only bested by Mendelsohn, playing the villainous Skrull leader Talos. His supporting work has always been exquisite, and he delivers another great performance here. I just wish he was not covered in so much makeup and prosthetics. I would also be remiss to not mention how much fun Jackson has playing Nick Fury. His delightful edge is almost enough to forget the mundane problems around him. And while the Supporting Cast features the likes of Jude Law and Annette Bening, they are all overshadowed by the Film’s undeniable MVP, Goose the Cat. If you do not walk out of Captain Marvel thinking that Goose was the best part of the Film, then something is seriously wrong.
Captain Marvel is entertaining but exceedingly average. Larson is a great hero when she is not held back by the Script, and the Supporting Cast around her is quite good. But the Film should and could have been so much greater, and I cannot help but think the character and her story deserved better treatment than feeling like just another Marvel movie – especially if she is destined to become a very important future element of the MCU.
Marvel Entertainment Canada release CAPTAIN MARVEL on Thursday, March 7, 2019.