by Kevin Muller
There is a destructive force coming to the MCU, Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it has to power to destroy everything in its path. No, I’m not talking about Thanos, but the star of this film, Brie Larson. For those of you who don’t know, Larson hasn’t been the easiest person to deal with during the filming and promotion of this film. As the lead in a MCU film, she is using it as a platform to deal with women’s rights and other injustices she wants to talk about. Her foot has already been in her mouth a few times, including her saying that the new super hero film wasn’t made for white men, who are the majority of the critic reviewing population. On top of that, she apparently isn’t meshing well with the other Avengers, which could cause a problem. See, most of these original heroes will start to fade out, with the new ones, like Captain Marvel, stepping up to take the lead for the coming years. It doesn’t look good when your main star has created such controversy before the movie was released. Outside of the controversy, the main reason people want to see this is to get information about the person who will fix what Thanos did at the end of Infinity War. At the end of that film, Nick Fury was seen contacting her, before disintegrating into nothing, along with half of the world’s population. So, how is this origin story that tells us about the savior to this epic saga?
Even though the title of the film is the name of the character, no one ever does call her that name. Instead, Brie is mainly referred as either Carol or Vers throughout the film. Vers, works with Starforce, with some MCU characters you may notice from older movies. They are racing against a shape-shifting Alien race named, the Skrull, to find a man who has vital information relating to their mission. She escapes to Earth after the mission is compromised and wants to find out more information about these memories that keep slipping into her head. Here, she catches the attention of a new field agent, Nick Fury, and his partner, Coulson. Both Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg, have been digitally de-aged to very satisfying results. While Coulson’s role is more of a cameo, Jackson takes a full on supporting role to Larson. Since this story takes place in the 90’s, Fury still has an eye and lacks the utter badass nature that we have come to identify him with in the future. Together, Fury and Vers dive into the mystery of who she is, the context of her memories, and the secret weapon that both ties all of them together and has the Skrull on their tail.
Marvel films have established a nice formula with their films. The action, score, cinematography, script, humor, etc, all follow certain beats. This time though, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, have shaken up the narrative. At first, it seems all over the place, but connects nicely at the end when everything comes together. Ben Mendelsohn, who has become the new Gary Oldman, who spent most of his earlier career playing satisfying villains until playing the ultimate good guy Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy, once again gives the antagonist a right mixture of menace and emotional depth. Plus, the makeup on him and his cohorts is just fantastic. In an age where everything has become digital, it is nice to see good old make up put to good use. Outside of Jackson, there is another great supporting performance that will make your inner old cat lady smile. Without giving too much away, Goose, the feline star of this film, is both cute and provides many of the laughs when the time comes for him to shine. How is Larson though? The Oscar winner does hold her own in this 150 million dollar origin story. Veer does go through a lot of inner turmoil throughout this film and Brie respectfully brings her journey to life. She also brings a bit of emotion to an alien character with a limited tenderness. That coldness does start to slide off as the clues of who she really is starts to come to light. She also has decent chemistry with Jackson, who both bounce off each other nicely.
While she does do a decent job with those parts, she kind of is awkward with the comedy. Marvel films usually are full of puns and one liners, it is as big of a defining trait as seeing these people use their individual powers. Some of these films balance the comedy quite well, while others seem to lose balance with being concerned with providing too much laughter. This film is a bit gluttonous with the comedy and the 90’s references. A comedic moment has to be both successful in execution from the script and the actor. Brie seems too stiff at points with the deliveryand she seems to be reading off a cue card. The awkwardness seems to be disappear as the film progresses, but a lot of it is a bit cheesy. Even her interactions with Jackson seem a bit off. For the publicity part of this film, Marvel have been pushing the supposed chemistry these two have in real life. It does seem genuine at parts, but forced in others. They aren’t terrible together, or individually, but their chemistry seems like a product, not the result of a true developed relationship. Then there is the time period aspect of this film. The whole entire film is set in the 90’s, way before the Avengers and the events that we’ve seen over the last ten years. The film hammers that aspect into your head without any subtlety at all. At first, it is cool to hear a reference or a piece of music from the era, but it quickly wears out its welcome. Put it this way, you would be quickly inebriated if you took a sip whenever the 90’s were referenced.
Captain Marvel is a decent film that fits nicely into the Marvel canon, but it isn’t anywhere near the top of the crop. Larson will get better as she appears in more of these films. Also, the 90’s references will subside now that she will be in present events. Oh, the Stan Lee tribute and cameo are fantastic here and it’s sad that we have only two more left. My theater erupted in applause, myself included, when the tribute appeared. Despite its flaws, you can’t help to feel that Lee would be content with this one.
I am giving Captain Marvel a 3.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!