Larsen Excels As The Lead;
Lighthearted Mixed Bag.
We are in the home stretch for Avengers: Endgame, and while we may have lost half the universe to Thanos, he now has a new, ultra badass hero coming for him and she isn’t going to take the whole finger snap thing lying down. While I’m excited to see how this new addition plays into the larger story moving forward, the road is certainly not without its potholes.
Marvel’s latest installment, Captain Marvel, is definitively middle of the road, follows their usual formula, and is hurt by coming out between two Avengers films that have been the most anticipated releases in the studio’s history. As an origin story, it’s certainly not bad, but considering its placement in the release schedule, the fans would have benefited from a much stronger entry. The script is its most glaring flaw, for a number of reasons. First of all, the villain is lame, and there’s not much I can say on that front without potentially spoiling something. Marvel films are often hurt by villains that aren’t up to par and this is no exception. Additionally, there is a moment late in the film that totally undermines the arc that Carol/Captain Marvel has just gone through, and it cheapens her character. Moments like that bothered me in a movie whose writing was already uneven to begin with.
The pacing was a bit off, and the film needed another set piece or action sequence to offset some of those long stretches without much excitement. Origin stories may play by different rules, but the movie needed a little adrenaline injection. Also, there are a few characters that don’t even approach filling their potential (hey, it’s Agent Coulson again! But…he does almost nothing…), which builds in some frustration. Lastly, in the complaint department, the movie tends to try too hard to make its points. It’s not enough to see Brie Larson kicking ass, we have to have the bad guys constantly telling her she’s weak and emotional. And while we are already rife with reminders that this story is taking place in the 90s, we get constant staples of the decade’s music, which approaches overkill at times (most notably in the climactic fight, where “Just A Girl” is practically groan-inducing).
I don’t mean to sound like I didn’t enjoy the movie, because I did. It is certainly a fun movie and fits well within the style of the MCU. Larson is awesome as the titular hero, embracing the humorous moments and doing well to reveal the layers of her character throughout the story. She definitely does well to spearhead the movie and I look forward to seeing how she fits in and quips with her Avengers counterparts next month. In his umpteenth turn as Nick Fury, Samuel L Jackon is once again great, allowing himself to be funnier than we are used to and it plays well. He is fresh-faced and young, totally unaware of the level of threats he will be dealing with sooner than later and in love with cats. He has some great banter and the explanation for the eye patch is a ton of fun. Additionally, Ben Mendelsohn does a great job in a dual role, really nailing it as the Skrull leader Talos and giving us some of the better character moments in the whole film.
The visual effects are largely very good, as Captain Marvel crackles with energy that shines through during the action scenes. Some of the visuals lose their luster late in the movie, but for the most part I really enjoyed them, especially when the full breadth of the hero’s powers are realized and unleashed. And not that this is related to the visual effects, but while I’m praising the movie let me just add in that this may be the best Stan Lee cameo yet, and together with the brief tribute in the Marvel logo during the opening titles, delivers a wonderful feelgood moment.
Overall , there are enough positives to outweigh the negatives and turn in solid two hour story, though I had hoped for more. The cinematic superhero world gaining more strong female characters is never a bad thing, and they may have just gained the most powerful one yet.