Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: Captain Marvel

Release date: March 8, 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn

Captain Marvel is the last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to come out before next month's Avengers: Endgame.  If you were hoping that the movie would answer some of the burning questions left after Avengers: Infinity War, then you will be sorely disappointed.  Captain Marvel gives almost no clues as to what will happen in Marvel's next cinematic epic.  If you were hoping for a movie that would put Marvel on top of the female protagonist superhero movie genre, then you might also be disappointed.  Captain Marvel is many things, but it is not going to usurp Wonder Woman from that throne.  However, if you were hoping for a fun flashback into the origin of Marvel's newest (and strongest) female protagonist, then you won't leave disappointed.

The first thing you will notice about the movie (and something that some viewers might think is overdone) is the 90s nostalgia.  Captain Marvel beats you over the head with it at the start of the movie.  From the stores, to the technology, to the the music, Captain Marvel is overflowing with 90s references; it leaves no doubt what era it is set in.  Thankfully, it trails off as the film progresses, but the filmmakers do a good job of throwing additional references in to keep the 90s runaway train rolling.  The next thing you will notice about the movie is Brie Larson.  She does an great job as Captain Marvel, but unfortunately the character of Captain Marvel doesn't afford Larson the range that she is capable of.  She does a convincing job as Captain Marvel and was consistent with the story and character, but it was just unfortunate that Larson didn't seem to stretch her acting chops.  The rest of the casting is mostly spot on, with an honorable mention to the de-aged Samuel L. Jackson driving much of the story with his humor (when he is not overshadowed by Goose the cat).  

The story of Captain Marvel provides what you need from this film and the universe.  It tells an origin story of a new major character, and does so in a way that keeps the mystery until the last part of the film.  It ties into the overall Marvel cinematic universe, both with some recurring characters and key plot points.  However, it feels like the directors spent so much time on her backstory, that the latter half of the movie had to be rushed to fit into a two-hour movie window.  Several scenes progress too quickly, with potentially character building scenarios rushed to move onto the action.  Relationships are built too quickly and plot twists happen too conveniently.  

And that rush to the end also reflects on the final scenes.  Overall, the effects were very good, with the use of CG believable (to the extent that a super hero galaxy movie can be believable).  The de-aged characters are convincing and don't fall into the uncanny valley.  And the flashback scenes from Captain Marvel's past are beautifully done and help to draw you into the story.  However, in the rush to the finish, the movie jumps the shark in the effects department and the last third of the movie suffers when Captain Marvel herself falls into the uncanny valley.  I was disappointed as it distracted me during the climax of the film (think the Juggernaut fights in Deadpool 2), but overall the film has the expected level of Marvel cinematic effects polish.  And those effects are accompanied by great sound effects and a fantastic score fueled by 90s and Avengers nostalgia.

Captain Marvel introduces a pivotal new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; one that clearly has a central role in the next Avengers film.  The movie gives the audience her backstory in a fun, 90s-fueled story that also manages to tie together many aspects from other films in the MCU.  If you were hoping for a fun nostalgic movie that stars a strong female protagonist, then take a flight with Marvel's newest fantastic female.

Watch it

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