Release Date: March 8, 2019
Captain Marvel is the fifth feature film from directing duo Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. The two have received acclaim for their work on independent ventures like Half Nelson and Mississippi Grind, but with a $152 million budget, Captain Marvel presents an entirely different challenge. In 2019, movies about crack head history teachers and gambling addicts aren’t exactly selling out movie theaters. Marvel movies are. The hope is that these two small-budget filmmakers can pull a Ryan Coogler and bring a creative spin to a franchise that’s on its 21st film since 2008.
Talented as they may be, Boden and Fleck fail to add originality to the MCU universe, and opt to stick to the format that has made its predecessors successful.
Captin Marvel is the story of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a former Air Force fighter pilot who is caught in the middle of an alien war. Having no memory of her past, she lives among the Kree fighting the evil shape-shifting Skrulls. Through a series of events she crash lands into a Blockbuster Video on Earth in 1995, setting up for a heavy dose of 90s pop culture references throughout the story. Shortly after landing on this foreign planet she joins forces with SHIELD agent Nick Fury to uncover the secrets of her past and end the war.
Captain Marvel is 127 minutes of action and visually pleasing effects, both requirements for an MCU production. From the jump, the viewer is bombarded with CGI and other visual effects. It looks and sounds incredible. This is important to note. Through saturation, it’s easy to overlook the amazing production value found in all Marvel movies. However, that’s the only thing going for this MCU blockbuster. Behind the visuals, you’ll find a flawed movie.
The forced jokes consistently fall flat and fail to get pity chuckles, even in a packed theater. Every MCU movie doesn’t have to be Ironman-level funny, but this movie tries to be. It swings. And it misses. Whether its a lack of comedic chemistry between Larson and Jackson, or a lapse in writing, the low-brow comedy can’t seem to land like it does in better MCU entries.
The performances from our leads are decent, but an unimaginative script caps the ability of the A-listers to shine. It’s an indictment of a movie’s script when two of the most recognizable stars in the world are out-shined by a cat named Goose.
As is the case with most MCU films, the filmmakers assume that the audience has seen the previous entries and calls back to them often. Captin Marvel brings back a few characters, and assumes the viewer knows them and how they fit into this narrative. For example, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is haphazardly tossed in at one point. Having seen Guardians of the Galaxy, in which he’s the antagonist, I was able to make the connection. However, if you haven’t seen Guardians, you may be lost or apathetic to his character. It’s a trope that Marvel uses to make the audience feel a connection to the film, but is often used to compensate for poor development of newly introduced characters.
Our bad guy in Captain Marvel is exhibit A.
Like most villains in the MCU, Jude Law’s character, Yon-Rogg, was half-baked. His only purpose was to provide conflict for Ms. Marvel to overcome; a catalyst for her arch. Law’s performance was unable to add intrigue to the character; a real disappointment for everyone here at Worth a Look, considering we loved his performance in 2018’s Vox Lux. Casting an actor of Law’s caliber in this role, then skimping on his material, is frustrating.
Did Boden and Fleck pull a Coogler? No. Was this an action-packed, popcorn movie that you expected when you Fandango’d your ticket? Yes.
Even though this movie isn’t anything groundbreaking, I look forward to seeing Captain Marvel in later films. The action scenes are entertaining, but there were definitely a couple of people snoring during my viewing. It could have something to do with the eleven o’ clock showing or it could just be Marvel fatigue. Still, Captain Marvel is separated from its MCU siblings thanks to the superhuman/electromagnetic Brie Larson, and a show-stealing cat. Both are coming to destroy Thanos and his little gauntlet in MCU’s next movie… AVENGERS: ENDGAME.