11 years and 18 entries in the Disney Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was
puzzling that there hadnít been a single film dedicated to a female
hero. Sure, thereíve been mighty women on screen; THORís Sif and
Valkyrie, THE AVENGERSí Scarlet Witch and Black Widow, GUARDIANS OF THE
GALAXYíS Gamora, Nebula, and Mantis, BLACK PANTHERís Okoye and Shuri,
ANT-MANís Wasp, and, far-too briefly, one fabulous female villainess in
the form of THOR: RAGNAROKís Hela. Really, considering the handful
listed here Ė most of whom are part of a larger group, or, perish the
thought -- sidekicks -- compared to the dozens of male supes, many with
multiple solo films, this is pretty lopsided.
Whether feeling the weight of this disparity before an increasingly
side-eying audience, or perhaps noting rival DC Entertainmentís massive
success with 2017ís WONDER WOMAN, the MCU has finally given a female
hero the spotlight. Carrying the very name of the entertainment empire
on her back, we meet CAPTAIN MARVEL.
only a dream. Those images of a little girl falling, those moments of
pain and humiliation that seem to belong to someone else, wake Vers from
sleep. Working her issues out the best way she knows how, she is once
again chided by her mentor, Yon-Rogg, for being unable to control her
emotions, even during a sparring match.
must keep a cool head as a member of the Starforce; the elite military
corps of the Kree race. Their never-ending mission is to keep their
people and planet safe from their mortal enemy, the Skrulls. Vers
regains her focus as the team deploys on a mission to extract a
kidnapped Kree from Skrull clutches. The shape shifters pull a fast
one, ambushing the Starforce, and separating Vers from her troops. The
Skrull make good use of the soldier, extracting unusual memories that
seems to be leading to a coveted prize.
canít keep a good woman (upside-)down, and so Vers powers out of
her bonds, and escapes, racing through the galaxy to be stopped only by
a fall that crash lands the warrior on the quaint, but insignificant
planet, C-53. Her earthbound splashdown through a Blockbuster video
store, doesnít go unnoticed by the locals. Itís while Vers has
commandeered some primitive electronics from the local Radio Shack that
she meets a government agent who would like to know who she is, why Ė
and how -- she barrelled through the roof of the Blockbuster? Also,
whatís the green and black scuba suit about? S.H.I.E.L.D.ís Agent
Nick Fury is not ready for the answers to those questions.
revelations about shape shifting aliens, and her own claim to the cosmos
are way too weird for the grounded Fury. Still, between witnessing Versí
superhuman feats of strength and agility, and after a green-skinned
shape shifter expires in his own car, thereís not much room left for
doubt. Fury joins Vers in her evasion of the Skrulls, and her quest to
find her whatever secret it is her memories hold that is so precious to
CAPTAIN MARVEL might not be the worst chapter in MCU, but itís far from
its best. What was so disappointing is how very ďmehĒ the movie is.
Thereís no high point, thereís no stand up and cheer moment that
doesnít feel forced, hollow, or clichť. We have nothing new, and
everything tired, or substandard. The whole film feels rushed and
sloppy; the mere means to an end to bring in this character, who needs
to appear in AVENGERS: ENDGAME.
movie features some of the worst visual effects since AVENGERS: AGE OF
ULTRON, and perhaps lowers that bar. So much of what weíre looking at
is unconvincing: I still donít exactly know whatís so great about
Captain Marvelís powers. Energy blasts? Thatís it? At various points
in the movie, they donít seem all that powerful, as various targets are
quite able to get up and attack again after being blasted. Compared to
other heroes in the Marvel movie pantheon, I couldnít see how -- as
implied by AVENGERS: INFINTY WAR -- this character could be humanityís
than that, much of the VFX actually look like animation. All of the
shots of Captain Marvel feeling her powers in space (and the famous
ďSuper Saiyan GokuĒ moment), could easily have been a cartoon.
During those moments, I couldnít tell whether there was an actual person
performing motion capture, or a completely computer-born image. The
visual disconnect is strong here, and as those space sequences set up a
lot of the movieís action, that detachment makes it very difficult to
immerse oneself in the world. Then again, perhaps they should have gone
with a fully-animated movie?
we have our Captain. While I rooted for her to do well in the role,
Brie Larson never becomes anyoneís idea of mighty, super, or heroic.
Whether itís the aggravatingly flat line delivery (in the tiny,
voice), the strange eyebrow quirks and smug lip twitches popping up
any time she thinks sheís done something clever, that seem to wink at
the audience, or her visible discomfort working against green screen;
this was not the Captain Marvel Iíd hoped for. I did not leave the
theatre believing for one moment that this person, either by virtue of
invincible super powers, or sheer force of will, was going to be enough
to beat Thanos in the upcoming AVENGERS: ENDGAME.
feeling was not mollified at all by Captain Marvelís hand-to-hand combat
scenes. Right from the opening spar with Yon-Rogg, Larson cannot be
clearly seen doing even the smallest of stunts. She may very well have
done every single move, but my disbelief was only enforced by the
aggressively terrible, choppy camerawork and blender-cut editing.
script doesnít know what it wants to be. Itís got some of the duddiest
jokes Iíve heard in any film, with odd, stilted dialogue, which is
tragic as itís clear the filmmakers were going for a humour and action
mix, along the lines of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, or THOR: RAGNAROK.
Itís not clever or witty enough to play to comedy, and the actionís too
dull to play to bombast. (Though unintended laughs can be found in
the filmís emphatic reminders that This is the 90s, people! Between the
insistent, generic ďBest of the 90sĒ soundtrack, Bush and Smashing
Pumpkins concert posters on any available surface, and Versí/Carolís
Nine Inch Nails logo t-shirt; the production resembled a 90s-themed
heroís main journey is, of course, to reclaim her memory and her
identity. Recalling all sheís been through to get from there to the
incredible here. However, even at the movieís climax, thereís never any
emotional watershed moment of really becoming, which is so cathartic to
not just Carolís character, but the audience. We can see the buildup
thatís been unsubtly hammered onscreen, of the girl growing into a woman,
recalling falling down and rising, over and over, but itís so clichť,
that the big moment feels rote and predictable. It doesnít help that
besides the lacking portrayal, the characterisation of who Carol Danvers
was on earth is so shallow -- itís mentioned once how she didnít get
along with her father, and thatís it for family background -- that it was
hard to care if she regained her memories, or not.
L. Jackson does most of the heavy lifting in the charisma department (Until
a certain four-legged superstar strolls in.), and the kinder,
gentler, two-eyed Fury is a lot more fun than his older self. Such is
Jacksonís charm that he could make a block of wood seem fascinating, so
his presence is mandatory, here. As the youthful version of
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Agent Coulson, Clark Gregg merely stands around sporting
the creepiest CGI face since THE POLAR EXPRESS. It doesnít look as if
his features can actually move. The main Skrull is played by Ben
Mendelsohn, who has racked up a lot of roles lately, which is
interesting because he always reminds me of other actors (His villain
in READY PLAYER ONE had to be an homage to THE BREAKFAST CLUBís late,
great Paul Gleason). He stays true to form by doing what I assume
is his best Tom Hardy imitation, under heavy prosthetics with visible
glue lines as Talos. Who knew the Skrulls originated from south London?
breath of fresh air is Lashana Lynchís portrayal of Carol Danversí old
pal, Maria Rambeau. Once the pair is reunited -- Carol without any
memories of her friend -- one truly senses the bond they had. In the
filmís only true emotional moments, we can feel how Maria mourned Carol,
and her rage at not being able to receive closure, or even discuss how
she died. Akira Akbar is adorable and perfect as Mariaís daughter,
Monica, who Marvel comics fans know will grow into her own story. These
small scenes of domestic bliss between Carol and the Rambeaus,
particularly her interactions with Monica, were the highlight of Brie
Larsonís performance. Maria Rambeau gets to be a hero on her own
in the film, and perhaps because she connects so well to the audience --
even in her short time on screen -- her scenes are so much more
thrilling than anything we see from Carol Danvers.
use of (Non-CGI) hair goes to Annette Bening, as a mysterious
figure that appears to Versí subconscious. The short, layered Ďdo,
sported by Bening since the 1980s, lends credence to one truly clever
twist in an otherwise unsurprising flatline.
However, the true star of the film is Goose; the renamed Chewie of the
Captain Marvel comic books (But doesnít Disney own Star Wars?).
We first meet the feline (?!) in an unlikely place, and he
just keeps turning up in odd settings for the rest of the film. Goose
is a fluffy red tabby that instantly mesmerises Agent Nick Fury, and
strikes terror in the hearts of the Skrulls. Why, one asks? Ainít
telling, but itís pretty much what every cat owner has always suspected
about their own furry overlords. The scenes with Goose are some of the
only clever and inspired moments in the film, and allows us to see other
sides to those characters I mentioned. Showing more effortless charm
and charisma (and convincing powers) than many others in the
cast, I would have been (and still would be) perfectly happy with
a Goose spinoff. There is much I would give for Goose to have a crack
worried after seeing the trailers for CAPTAIN MARVEL: I had suspicions
about the reuse of the same sequences over and over in each clip -- scenes that didnít exactly make me want to run to see this film in the
first place. My Spider-sense was sadly correct, and this is one
occasion where all of the best (Non-Goose) moments are in the
trailers. For all the CGI bombast shown in those clips, the piece as a
whole is flat and lifeless, and CAPTAIN MARVEL never really soars
itís not the worst of the current MCU (That booby prize goes to
GUARDIANS 2, and both IRON MAN sequels), CAPTAIN MARVEL is so much less than Iíd hoped for.
Whatís on screen is tired, amateurish, and just plain dull. There is
nothing new here other than the main draw of ĎOoh, look, a female
superhero.í Great, but itís not enough; WONDER WOMAN proved that to the
positive. Thereís no reason we shouldnít have had a perfectly cast,
strong lead performance, a tight script with mind-blowing action and
effects, and clever laughs. Marvel has done it plenty of times before;
but this film is an unfortunate exception.
necessary to the storyline of AVENGERS: ENDGAME, CAPTAIN MARVELís going
to make a ton of money, no matter its flaws. However, perhaps in that
upcoming film -- in the experienced hands of the Russo brothers --
Captain Marvel will fare much better. Still, I cannot help wishing
there had simply been more care taken for this introduction to the hero
Iíd waited for all this time.
Lady Miz Diva
A Hero will rise...
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