Quick Hit: A retread of ideas that ultimately comes a bit too late.
Captain Marvel was the MCU’s first woman led superhero film. This is something that should have been made a tent-pole film so that the torch could have been successfully passed to her from Captain America or Tony Stark – she’s one of the faces that Marvel will need to rely on in the future. However, the movie itself comes off as a recycling of ideas that were better used in other movies, and instead ends up being average in its execution of a well-worn set of plot devices.
Captain Marvel begins as we follow Vers (Brie Larson) as she is part of a Kree fighting force that is attacking a group of Skrulls. Her mentor is Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and he is consistently trying to get her to fight without her emotions. Unfortunately, she’s captured by the Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), and he proceeds to scrub her brain as he pushes her to Earth. In doing so, she begins a journey as she attempts to regain her memories from a prior time – before she was a Kree. She’s met on Earth after her landing in a Blockbuster (because 90s) by Nick Fury, and a bit of a buddy cop comedy begins to take shape, eventually leading to her gaining her moniker and stopping some bad things from happening.
Ok – where to start here. First, as much as I love Brie Larson, she comes across here as far too one note. Her varied performances in Unicorn Store and Room are terrific and nuanced. Here, she has one basic emotion, and that’s a flatness that permeates in nearly every scene she’s in. Even when she’s allowed to flex a smile or show a bit more emotion, it seems stretched. I’m in no way stating that she has to smile to give a powerful performance – anyone that has seen Room knows the power it has in a film that has very little smiling. Instead, I’m saying that the character isn’t given very much room to have heart.
Next, she somehow is upstaged by nearly every character in the film – besides Jude Law, who is really boring. Ben Men is terrific and steals every scene that he’s in, and is one of the few Marvel supporting characters that feels truly developed. He manages to have a motivation for his actions, a personality, and feels accomplished at the end of the film. A digitally de-aged Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) manages to do the same – continually showing why he becomes the battle weary veteran, but also showing that he is a character that is still optimistic at an early part in his career.
Then when you combine a pretty boring character with the cliché plot device of the main character forgetting who she was, it means the movie ends up pretty average. That’s not to say she doesn’t kick a serious amount of butt throughout the film – often times her action scenes, though chaotically filmed, are some of the most entertaining moments. But to have a landmark film like this end with a character that is so flat seems unforgivable. There’s also a bit of an effects problem – there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for certain stylistic choices, and there’s only so many times someone’s fists can glow and seem special.
This isn’t a bad movie, but it definitely doesn’t belong in the upper echelon of films that you may expect from Marvel, even if the company is in the name
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"