Review: Captain Marvel

Review: Captain Marvel

by Alan Grant
article from Saturday 9, March, 2019

EVER SINCE her insignia appeared in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War  the arrival of Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, has been eagerly anticipated by fans of the hottest genre in modern cinema – the superhero movie. What followed was an ad campaign and a series of trailers that, alongside the spicy fact that this would be the first Marvel movie to feature a woman in the lead role, hyped the arrival of the 21st release from Stan Lee’s house of superheroes to the moon and back. The distinctive red and blue uniform, the familiar Marvel aesthetic, and samples from the score were everywhere prior to release. 

Now, the moment has come and Captain Marvel  is at last in theatres and audiences can  finally make up their own minds about it.

Naturally, and, unfortunately, rather expectedly, there were some folks out there who couldn’t wait to get their butts into the cinema to evaluate Captain Marvel  as a film in its own right. 

Some neckbeards decided that it was going to be terrible way ahead of time and have been working to undermine it without having even sat through the opening credits. 

Conversely, some of the internet’s more woke citizens, whose common ground with their fellow detractors is ostensibly limited to their dangerously bloated BMIs, who have declared Brie Larson to be their queen and Captain Marvel  to be the greatest film since… well, probably something like Blue is the Warmest ColourPitch Perfect,  or some other predictable choice. 

Personally, the only result I want to see between those two camps is a score draw with heavy injuries. They can both, as far as I’m concerned, go screw themselves! I intend to judge Captain Marvel  on its own merits, as a film. 

So, how does it stand up as a film within in the Marvel universe?

Well, as if in an attempt to piss off both the camps mentioned above, it’s alright.

That’s it. 

It’s ok,

it’s not brilliant but it’s by no means terrible either.

The usual Marvel high standards in the areas that Marvel excels in are there. The cinematography is spot on, the original score is great, and the artistic direction – especially the costuming and make-up – has been planned thoroughly and executed perfectly. It feels familiar and comfortable for fans of the MCU and offers a good, if slightly late, point of entry for newbies given that the plot, essentially an origin story with some additional bells and whistles tacked on, is relatively simple and straightforward. 

The casting works very well and the high point of the experience is the dynamic between Danvers (Brie Larson) and a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who do a great job of hitting the beats that could be at home in a fun buddy cop movie while never quite becoming twee. Their relationship has got everything short of the “she’s a space alien pilot and he’s a young secret agent…” voice-over and it’s really, really fun to watch. 

Plus, it’s about time Jackson had some fun in one of these movies and Larson, despite my earlier concerns about her ability to carry a project of this scale, totally shows up and does the role justice. 

(Note: There is a special safe house for critics who spoil Marvel movies that I have no intention of having to move into! Therefore, the above is all you’re getting from me in terms of a plot summary – I’m not going into my local multiplex cinema in a mac and dark glasses! People will talk!) 

However, despite being a perfectly serviceable Marvel movie – Captain Marvel  is a long way from the dizzying heights of Iron Man 2  or Avengers Assemble. 

There are a few jokes that, despite the overall quality of the screenplay, just don’t land, perhaps because Larson and many in her support cast aren’t especially gifted comedically, and the opening act feels drawn-out and convoluted. 

There are also a few suspect song choices that blight an an otherwise great original score which really pushed me out of it – one use of a Gwen Stefani song (you can probably guess which one) did cause me to wince with embarrassment during what was a great scene. 

In the main, there are two issues that push Captain Marvel  from the top of the MCU mountain to sitting somewhere in the middle. The film feels like it’s trying to do far too much – in trying to be a prequel and a character study – and doesn’t quite get either done completely. This may be by virtue of where it sits in the mythos – but it still makes it feel a little insubstantial. 

Also, the stakes never really feel as epic as they do in some of the better MCU character movies. In, say, Captain America: Winter Soldier  or Iron Man 3 , it’s very clear that, while the stakes are not as high as in the team-up movies, they’re still plenty high – that doesn’t feel like it’s the case with Captain Marvel ; we’re in an interpersonal situation and that’s as big as it gets. 

Overall, a Marvel movie has a checklist of things that will keep its audience reliably entertained and Captain Marvel  hits most of them but not as hard as it could have in some cases. If you’re a fan of the MCU, you’re probably going to see it anyway, but you can be safe in the knowledge you won’t regret it. 

However, if you’re in the “OMG Kweeeeeen!!!” group or the burgeoning band of incels mentioned in the opening part of this review, it’s not going to change your mind so give it a miss… hopefully to focus on your own deep personal issues.

Because, like I said, rather anti-climactically, Captain Marvel is alright…

...that’s about it really.   


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