Thursday, 25 April 2019

Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019)

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

I feel merely Marvelous…

Captain Marvel (2019): ★★★

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

“Hey, this is fun!”

That seems to be the overriding sentiment throughout Cap’m Marvel. Everybody in the film seems to be having fun. And not just the actors (though that does seem to be the case, too), but the characters. Brie Larson as our amnesiac heroine (who is called “Vers” for most of the movie) is witty and quick with a quip, and seems to have a wry smile curling the corner of her mouth throughout most of the movie. Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury is just a bit more exasperated at times with all this alien business, but he seems pretty darned excited by it all, too.

The whole mood of the film is summed up during the flash-bang action climax during which the Cap’m is engaged in a huge, huge battle, and is pushing herself harder (and higher, further, & faster) than ever before. And she just starts laughing. She is having the absolute time of her life, reveling in her power and the sheer unbridled joy of being a gosh-darned Superhero. It is fantastic and refreshing (and I’m jealous because I had the same thing happen in a screenplay I wrote way back in college).

There are some scenes of gravitas, but they never reach the depths of, say, Wonder Woman. And as such Cap’m Marvel never feels like it has the epic scope of a film like that. Even though it’s about a galaxy-spannig war and has potentially Earth-shattering stakes, it feels much smaller and more self-contained, more like the Ant-Man movies. Which isn’t a bad thing! The heartfelt moments still do land even though some of them (like the “stand up” sequence) were spoiled by the commercials.

There are some fantastic treats for longtime comic book fans who know the lore of Carol Danvers and Cap’m Marvel, especially with the identities and allegiances of many of the characters, and surprising twists on who ends up being the villains. But insider knowledge is absolutely not necessary; though it might be helpful to have seen Guardians of the Galaxy (and a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Cap’m Marvel is self-contained enough to give you all the information that you really need. There are plenty of links to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including a very surprising (to me) revelation of the source of the Cap’m’s powers.

Cap’m Marvel takes place in the mid-1990s, which is when I graduated from High School. So I’m intimately familiar with that time period, and the film pretty much nails it. I especially appreciated the huge boat-of-car sedans that S.H.I.E.L.D. drove around in (because of course this was before SUVs were all the rage). It seems like the directors watched a lot of T-2: Judgement Day before they filmed the Earthbound action scenes. Even the cinematography and color palette are evocative of the time period, though the needle-drop music selections might be just a bit too on the nose at times and aren’t as well-integrated into the film as in some other Marvel movies (looking at the Guardians of the Galaxy movies in particular). There are a couple of very funny moments, like when the Cap’m goes to an internet café, and then later when people are attempting to retrieve some information from a CD-ROM (“What’s it doing?” “Loading”).

I have to give a shout-out to Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, the leader of the shapeshifting Skrulls. He gives his performance a weird, soft-spoken, laid-back, homespun charm instead of being a sneering, sinister presence. It’s a very surprising choice that pays off in a big way in the back third of the film.

Cap’m Marvel is a supremely confident, fun, surprising, and surprisingly small film. It’s its own thing and doesn’t seem to feel the pressure of being the FIRST FEMALE-LEAD MARVEL MOVIE (all-caps). It’s summed up quite nicely towards the tail-end of the film by the Cap’m herself: “I have nothing to prove to you.”

Categories: Movie Reviews, Reviews.

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