WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES (2019)
Directors: Anna Boden / Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law
Higher, further, faster!
After all the now-standard internet controversy about a woman daring to be in a movie – not just that, but leading one – it was refreshing to just sit down and watch Captain Marvel and leave all that sweaty rubbish behind. Academy Award winner Brie Larson stepped into the powerful suit of Carol Danvers in the MCU’s twenty-first movie and the final offering before Avengers: Endgame is unleashed, giving us a glimpse of what Thanos will be coming up against. Set in 1995, decades before the events of Infinity War, this is pretty much the origin story of a character who will probably front the MCU going forward.
The premise is fairly simple. Captain Marvel finds herself caught in the middle of a galactic war between her people, the Kree (fronted by Jude Law’s Yon Rogg), and their sworn enemies, the Skrull (who are led by Ben Mendelsohn’s joyous Talos) and is catapulted to Earth where she joins forces with Nick Fury (Jackson) – the not-yet director of SHIELD – to save the planet and avoid the obliteration of an entire race. Fairly standard superhero narrative. In fact, Captain Marvel as a whole is fairly by-numbers in terms of its overall story and beats. The spectacle, characters, and verve are what power the movie along more than anything. Brie Larson leads the movie with a confident bounce in her step and makes for an appealing superhero, though some of the action scenes weren’t entirely great (possibly more due to rapid editing), however, her chemistry with Sam Jackson was a winner. On Jackson, the de-aging technology used is, frankly, excellent – not once as the movie went on did I find myself dwelling on the fact that he was far younger looking and instead just accepted it. Ben Mendelsohn is allowed free rein to have some fun in full makeup and soda-sipping glory, Lashana Lynch makes for an effective supporting act to Larson and Jude Law looks effortlessly handsome. The less said about Clark Gregg/Agent Coulson’s de-aging the better.
At times, there’s a refreshingly playful tone to the movie, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet having some fun with Captain Marvel’s dialogue and relationship with Fury – and I can’t forget Goose the cat. The ginger moggy steals the show despite being short on meows (cat dialogue…). As it’s set in the mid-90s, we are treated to a plethora of visual and audio references to the time – huge computer towers, long loading times, grungy clothes and Blockbuster Video! This worked for the majority of the time, however, the song choices didn’t work for me. I enjoyed hearing Garbage’s Only Happy When It Rains (I once played bass on that track) and Nirvana’s Come As You Are – but the song choices didn’t fit with the scenes that accompanied them. The constant need to be reminded of the time period became tiresome and unnecessary and began to detract from the fun. The first half is just OK, but when the second half kicks in, Captain Marvel finds its stride and begins to lift off. Unusually for a CBM, the finale hits the mark and is satisfying to watch – complete with metaphors and message of self-belief and rising up against any obstacle - and the setup for further movies is subtle – something this guy appreciates. The post-credits stingers, however, are not (as are the nods to previous MCU flicks and references…i.e. Fury’s eyepatch)
In the lead-up to the ridiculously anticipated Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel serves as a refreshing appetizer and also a crucial piece of the jigsaw. There’s nothing ground-breaking about this addition to the MCU and it doesn’t rank in the higher echelons, instead, it is just a solid, enjoyable, yet flawed romp towards the next phase of the cinematic universe. Brie Larson grabs the role and locks it in her soul, however, the rest of the movie isn’t up to her standard. It’s certainly timely, though, and if it inspires young girls to believe in themselves and instill rock-solid confidence in them – that’s more important than any review could be.
February 8th 2019