Friday, March 8

Captain Marvel Review

Captain Marvel

Dir: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Clark Gregg, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, and Annette Bening

The newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is “Captain Marvel”. It’s significant to recognize because for Marvel Studios and their 10-year venture into comic book film territory/dominance, the company has yet to feature a full-length film focused on a female superhero. For relative newcomers to the comic book film landscape, the DC Extended Universe was first to showcase a female lead film with “Wonder Woman” which was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception.

Captain Marvel” is aiming for the same goal as “Wonder Woman”, weaving a story that has all the narrative elements involving female discrimination, bias, and stereotyping that are still so relative in the current social climate today. It also works to display aspects of empowerment and the freedom that comes from embracing personal strengths, though some of that potential is squandered in an attempt to keep the Marvel machine moving forward. 

There is an intergalactic war raging between a group of people called the Kree and a group of shapeshifters who call themselves the Skrull. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is part of a team of Kree warriors who are sent on missions designated by a someone known as the Supreme Intelligence. Carol doesn’t remember much about her past but has a clear understanding of her role as a warrior, but there is something unique about Carol. During a mission ambush, Carol narrowly escapes and finds herself on Planet C-53 (Earth) along with memories of a distant past from this planet that begin to come back to her slowly.

An early moment in “Captain Marvel”, which takes place in 1995, involves our protagonist crash landing into the ruins of a 90’s cultural mainstay, a Blockbuster Video. The 90’s nostalgia doesn’t stop there. Aside from the lined shelves of VHS tapes making cinephiles remember the beauty of the “New Release” wall on a Friday night, there are a plethora of memorable songs peeking in to make you remember how much you loved Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and En Vogue & Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man”. It’s this emphasis on nostalgia that gives “Captain Marvel” its charming appeal; from a car chase scene that is scored with the rhythm from a buddy-cop film from the 90’s, to small touches in design that will make you remember how to use the secret codes on your pager. It’s all amusing even though it doesn’t really feel like it serves the story in a significant way, it’s just there to spark a memory or open a feeling from the past. 

It becomes distracting and disappointing, however, that the most intriguing moments of “Captain Marvel” happen in quick flashbacks without much time given to really build Carol Danvers with an intriguing foundation and well-established emotional drive. The flashbacks paint a portrait of a woman constantly pushed down and restrained by men, yet one who is determined to get up and push back and push further. There is even a hint that Marvel had the opportunity to do their version of “Top Gun” but with two women piloting flights deemed too dangerous for their counterparts…sign me up for that movie immediately.  

It’s a shame that a majority of “Captain Marvel” disregards the powerful and personal elements that compose the primary hero in favor of tying up some of the loose ends that still exist within the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without giving too much away, “Captain Marvel” finds ways to incorporate some aspects of early Marvel films and, of course, building the bridge towards the continuation of “The Avengers” saga that is awaiting its conclusion. 

Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson are great together, they should have their own buddy-cop movie, and a cameo from Annette Bening is a nice, small touch. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck try their best to make “Captain Marvel” their own, in small places you can feel their influence. Unfortunately, “Captain Marvel” never completely finds its footing, but instead connects the necessary dots to move the Marvel franchise machine forward and provides enough easy laughs and so-so scenes of spectacle to keep it from becoming too tedious. Still, the potential is visible throughout the film, which makes this effort disappointingly average. 

Monte’s Rating

2.50 out of 5.00

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