Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: Captain Marvel (Film)

After years of aborted cameos and discarded introductions, Carol Danvers has finally arrived in theaters in her first movie, Captain Marvel. We finally get the longtime superhero up on the big screen and, more importantly, Marvel Studios have finally gotten up of their asses and brought out its first solo female led film since the studio’s creation. There has been quite a bit of controversies surrounding this flick. As far as I can tell the brunt of it comes from star Brie Larson suggesting that she didn’t want to be interviewed by white men during her press tour and wanted non-white, non-male voices to have a chance since such people are laughably underused in movie journalism. Which, by the way is 100% correct. Apparently, a lot of people were upset by the words and took them to mean she hates white men and engaged in a campaign to hurt the film, including sabotaging the Rotten Tomatoes viewer score. Hell, I even saw one guy literally compare her to Adolf Hitler, which shows how ridiculous this was all getting. I mean, really; I’m fairly confident that Hitler would have been fine with being interviewed by exclusively white men.

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, there was a lot ridding on this film’s success in order to make sure Marvel and Disney don’t decided that making female led action films was a waste of money. Thankfully Captain Marvel made almost half a billion dollars its opening weekend. But even though the movie is doing well, the reviews and reactions have been mixed at best. Is Captain Marvel a good movie or is it a lackluster disappointed? Also, is asking that the title character to smile more on the posters, knowing goddamn well that you’d never ask the same of Iron Man or Captain America, a cool idea? (Hint: No, it’s not a cool idea)

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains spoilers, potentially a major one depending on your point of view.]

If you thought there wouldn't be a slow-motion walk then you were confused

Vers (Larson) is an amnesiac Kree warrior wielding massive power but who struggles with controlling her emotions. As a member of Spaceforce Starforce, she is part of an elite group of soldiers. One day, Starfoce is called on a mission to rescue an operative from being discovered by their archenemy the Skrulls, but things go wrong and Vers is captured. She manages to escape but ends up on Earth. She soon realizes that she has a connection to this planet and that what she knows of her past might be wrong…

Captain Marvel is a fun movie, and it would have had a hard time being anything but. It has a lot of exciting action scenes, there’s plenty of fun dialogue between characters, the story is simple without being stupid, and the lead is charming and likable but also able to pull off the “unstoppable badass” act without it coming off as being unbelievable. This is Marvel Studios we’re talking about here; they’ve been making nothing but superhero movies for eleven years now and long ago figured out the correct formula. Captain Marvel uses the formula without committing any unforgivable film sin and therefore, surprise, surprise, it’s a good flick.

It kind of looks like she fell into a pile of 90s nostalgia
By the way, can I go ahead and just blurt out that “Vers” is obviously Carol Danvers? I mean, sure, it’s a spoiler technically, but the promotion machine Marvel put out didn’t exactly do anything to imply Carol Danvers wasn’t the star of this show, so we pretty much all knew that reveal was coming as soon as they gave her the dumb name, right? Right.

Anyway, I enjoyed Brie Larson as Carol, particularly when she’s being the “cocky pilot asshole” type you’d associate in a movie about Air Force pilots. She also has fantastic chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson and the two of them really give Captain Marvel the uniqueness to stand out a little better among its MCU peers.

The rest of the cast is great, but when you hire a bunch of top shelf actors you usually get good results, so long as the material is at least decent. Special shout out to Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, a role comparable to Christopher Eccleston as Malekith from Thor: The Dark World, in that they are both villains played by great actors but caked in a ton of make-up that doesn’t make as much use of them as it could. Talos ends up far more interesting a character than Malekith in this film, but then again, this film is far, far, far and away a better flick than Thor: The Dark World, so that makes sense.

"Hey, where are the Earth women at?"
Effects-wise, this movie does quite well and the digital de-aging techniques they used on Jackson and Clark Gregg are the best we’ve seen since films started using the technology. Also, I dug the soundtrack; both the orchestral score and the choice of license music (I had no issue with the No Doubt song or its placement).

I wish the film made more of a point to dive into what Carol’s world was like when she was still on Hala. We see a very tiny bit of it but, ultimately, we know nothing about what life was like for her as a Kree soldier. I wish they had taken a page out of the original Thor movie and shown us more non-Earth imagery. Starforce could have also used more development, as we barely get to know any of them (and the marketing really made it seem like Gemma Chan was a bigger deal than she actually ended up being). The biggest problem I have with the movie, however, is its inconsistent dialogue. Sometimes it’s great but way too often it feels like characters are saying flat and token phrases that do nothing to enhance the film. Carol suffer from this the most as her dialogue often doesn’t play to the character’s strength, and as a result Brie Larson comes off wooden. As Marvel is known for its punchy scripts it is disappointing that Captain Marvel wasn’t quite on the same level of some of the more iconic films from the studio. Then again as apparently the story and script had at least five credited writers (and who knows how many uncredited ones) it’s amazing that there was a cohesive screenplay at all.

There are a few nitpicky things, as this movie has created several weird continuity issues from the rest of Marvel’s films. That said, this is a problem most Marvel flicks have had the past two or three years, and much longer if you count Agents of SHIELD and Inhumans as being part of the canon.

If she had truly become Binary then Carol could have destroyed the planet
Why is there a debate about how powerful she is?!
At the end of the day everything that I like about Marvel Studio movies is present in Captain Marvel but it lacks anything close to the issues I had with its weakest movies (Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Incredible Hulk, etc.). Being a really fun, enjoyable movie doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great film and, indeed, it isn’t. Not every superhero movie can be Black Panther or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But Captain Marvel is absolutely a winner and, provided they work on the dialogue a bit more, I’d would be down for a whole franchise starring Brie Larson.

Let me also say that I don’t really understand why so many folks disliked this movie or called it a bad to mediocre flick. I mean, Venom came out just last fall and that movie was hot, steaming garbage that was a blight against our society and compared to that Captain Marvel was a goddamn masterpiece. At least Captain Marvel didn’t make me want to slam my head through a window in order to forget what I just saw. 

Venom was bad and you should feel bad
Anyway, I give Captain Marvel 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas

-Strong Female Lead 
-Brie Larson, at her best, is quite good 
-Special effects and soundtrack are great 
-Has a great cast 

-Inconsistent dialogue 
-All of the Kree stuff could have used a ton more development 
-Creates several, possibly minor, continuity issues with past Marvel films

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