Captain Marvel

Posted: March 19, 2019 in Film reviews
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Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law.

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Far from Earth, on the Kree home world of Hela, Starforce member Vers (Larson) struggles with curious visions of her past, she also struggles to control the special abilities she possesses. Her mentor Yon-Rogg (Law) tries to help her channel this power.

During a mission to rescue an undercover operative Vers is captured by Skulls, shapeshifting aliens who are the sworn enemy of the Kree. The Skrull leader Talos (Mendelsohn) subjects Vers to a memory probe, dredging up memories of a woman named Dr. Wendy Lawson (Benning). Vers escapes from her captors and steals a fighter. She flies to the nearest planet, which turns out to be Earth. Fearing Earth will be infiltrated by Skrulls, Vers attempts to stop Talos and his soldiers, and in the process runs into SHIELD agents Nick Fury (Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Gregg). When Vers and Fury team up, the trail to Dr. Wendy Lawson also leads to a missing air force pilot named Carol Danvers, who looks a lot like Vers…

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And so, more than a decade after the Marvel Cinematic Universe got started, we finally get a female led Marvel superhero film. Sadly it isn’t a Black Widow film, but hey, maybe one day. Not for the first time in recent years, Captain Marvel arrives with a whole heap of online trash talk, in the same way the Ghostbusters reboot and Wonder Woman did, and it’s a shame some men can’t accept a woman in a title role but hey, quality usually wins out, as it did with Wonder Woman, and already Captain Marvel seems to be a huge hit. Nice going misogynists!

Captain Marvel arrives in the slot that last year gave us Black Panther, and whilst I don’t think it’s as good as Black Panther, it’s still a hugely enjoyable film from a stable that, lets be honest, rarely slips up these days. Unlike Black Panther, Captain Marvel isn’t an epic tale, it’s something altogether more personal, but that’s no bad thing, and it’s nice that Marvel are shaking things up a little, let’s be honest, we’re going to have plenty of city smashing come Avengers Endgame.

The film has an important message about female empowerment, but also has something to say about refugees, and it’s nice when a film surprises you, and in several respects Captain Marvel did. Are the girl power elements a trifle heavy handed at times, maybe, or maybe that’s just how I saw it as a bloke, did they ever overshadow the story, or my enjoyment? Not at all, in fact No Doubt’s I’m Just a Girl playing over a fight scene just made it more impressive.

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Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)Anyone who’s seen Larson in anything knows how good an actress she is, but she’s also embraced the physicality of the role, training for nine months and it shows, and her performance is interesting because Danvers isn’t some unrealistically perfect character, she’s flawed. Larson seems to be channelling more than a hint of Tom Cruise circa Top Gun, and much like Maverick, Danvers is something of a renegade, a fly by the sear of your pants, impetuous, fools rush in kind of character, and occasionally she’s a little annoying, but in a good way; it proves she’s real.

The Top Gun comparisons don’t end there of course, given there’s a cat named Goose who damn near steals the film!

Jackson’s been playing Nick Fury for a while now, but it must be challenging having to play a character who’s 25 years younger! The de-aging effects used on Jackson (and Gregg) are eerily good. There was a moment, when both men first show up, when it seemed jarring, but frankly after a minute or two I forgot I wasn’t just watching Samuel L Jackson circa 1995, and Jackson gives one of his most engaging performances for quite some time. This Nick Fury’s a lot of fun, and Jackson and Larson bounce off each other so well that you’d sign up for another buddy movie in a flash.

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Mendelsohn is also very good, Talos has a lot of the film’s finnier moments, and it’s credit to Mendelsohn that he imbues Talos with so much character, not always easy under so much latex (just ask Christopher Eccleston). It’s nice to see Benning in a dual role, and Law is impressively stoic. As Danvers’ best friend Maria Rambeau, Lashana Lynch is good value, and injects much needed humanity into the film, because she’s the one we can relate to. There’s also Hounsou and Pace reprising their roles from the first Guardians of the Galaxy films, and of course as a fan of Marvel Agents of SHIELD it’s always nice to see Clark Gregg, even if his de-aging never seems quite as convincing as Jackson’s.

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The special effects are top notch, and the film’s very funny, with Larson, Jackson, Mendelsohn and, er, the cat getting most of the funny stuff. Where it falls down somewhat is in the plot. There’s a lot jammed into the film, especially in the opening scenes where we’re in space, dealing with aliens with crazy names. This can work, just see Guardians of the Galaxy, but for me, this part of the film struggled. Luckily Danvers is soon on Earth and her buddy/buddy romp with Jackson can get started.

The 90s setting is overdone on occasion, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had with pagers and painfully slow computers, and the 90s soundtrack is very nicely put together.

If I have a problem with Captain Marvel it’s the same issue I have with most incredibly powerful superheroes (see also Superman) in that once she embraces her gifts near the end she seems a little too powerful, but that’s just me, I prefer my heroes more vulnerable (Spidey, Bats, Black Widow etc) I’m also hoping Marvel haven’t chosen now to spring her on us just so she can thwart Thanos in a month’s time.

All in all, this maybe isn’t quite the classic some are claiming it to be, but that doesn’t stop it being a hugely enjoyable romp, featuring characters I can’t wait to see more of.

Goose is gonna be in Avengers Endgame, right?

Oh, and stay right to the end of the credits. It’s a throwaway joke but still a very funny one.

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