CAPTAIN MARVEL REVIEW
BY JAMES MURPHY
The movie has scored an epic opening weekend. Defied its detractors / troll opposition. Wowed audiences, worldwide. And rightly so. Because you are in for a treat. Marvel magic strikes again!
THE BEST THINGS ABOUT CAPTAIN MARVEL:
- There is a pervasive sense of good will to the piece, from opening logo to closing credits.
- Brie Larson is a star, just as much as she is the consummate, award winning, character actress and inspirational, innovative activist. Funny, endearing, strong, convincing in action, vulnerable where necessary without compromising her feminine command. And yes, beautiful. Objectively, so. I cannot apologise for finding her so; but would qualify my judgement as being moral /artistic as much as aesthetic or superficial. The lady radiates power. In short? Brie is a real life super-hero! And it shows, onscreen, from start to finish. Bit of a crush, though this review is totally impartial, I promise. 😉
- Story, plot, structure and motif all work together well. This is a cohesive piece, despite occasional tricks with timeline; one gets a logical and mostly linear experience here and that is most refreshing.
- The anti-aging effects on Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg work well and rarely, if ever, take one away from the action.
- Some rather sophisticated political and cultural commentaries are there, in the script. But they are delivered with a subtlety and sensitivity, rather than sledgehammer agenda / didactic exposition.
- One gets a 1990s feel to the environments used, without the period piece dimension being overplayed. There is a great action scene featuring a train evoking SPEED / DIE HARD era fun.
- Lovely use of animals, children and a fabulously campy turn from Annette Bening (a glimpse, perhaps, of what her Catwoman might have been like back in 1992?).
- Ben Mendelsohn is great, too: sending up his own baddie for hire du jour persona and subverting expectations, beautifully. You expect him to be playing the usual corporate sleaze baron. He’s not. And no, that is not a spoiler, trolls!
- Self contained but enough ‘easter egg’ references to the other Marvel universe products to satisfy fans. Look out, too, for a most moving tribute to the late Stan Lee (RIP). Great use of mid/post credit teasers.
Minor Reservations/ Quibbles?
- Pace lulls and lags a bit on occasion and lacks a consistency in its editing style.
- Music score is a bit flat? One does not leave the Cinema singing a Captain Marvel ‘theme’, which seems a shame. But perhaps it will grow on me?
- Weakness = overdone strength. By NOT making this a heavy 90s period piece yet still ‘going there’ with jokes about CD ROM /Internet speed/BlockBuster Video et al, one gets a feeling that there could have been an even funnier and more charming fish out of water quasi rom-com here that played on nostalgia as a signature. Missed opportunity? Possibly.
- The film is funny: I laughed on several occasions. But it’s not THAT funny: several jokes are telegraphed as though pausing to expect big belly laughs and that simply feels..awkward. Hire an additional joke writer next time?
- There is an argument for simply hiring younger actors, surely, over the use of (admittedly great) anti-aging effects?
- Equally, if you are using such great innovations on Nick Fury /Agent Coulson..would it have been too much to ask for a younger Tony Stark cameo? Yet again, Robert Downey Junior manages to steal a show in which he is not even referenced, by virtue of the fact that a 1990s era take on his character would be amusing. Matters not helped by the fact that Captain Marvel is seen using lots of air bases and weapons facilities and fighting in desert landscapes that take one back to the first IRON MAN film.
- One could argue that the movie is conflicted between making a space opera akin to Guardians of the Galaxy /Star Wars and a flat Earth invasion action picture. Tone can be a bit blurred in consequence and we thereby miss out on some ‘Top Gun for Girls‘ action/adventure stuff that the trailers and marketing appear to promise?
Notice that ALL my reservations about this film are flip-sides of some rather strong and irresistibly charming assets: each of which define the product and with distinction.
I cannot help but recommend that you see CAPTAIN MARVEL.
The sheer sense of decency and fun and love of life it radiates are infectious and carry you through the duration, even if you are there under protest because your kids / spouse/whoever love this genre.
There is, genuinely, something for everyone here. The pay off to that is that there is of course, a compromise, of certain potential components to the piece, that could, alone, have been far finer films on their own? But this is simply a super-hero blockbuster and charmingly revels in that innocent simplicity, whilst sneaking in an undercurrent of subtle and welcome sophistication without undermining the fun.
Above all: prepare to fall head over heels in love with the beautiful, brilliant, brave, business-like but benevolent Goddess that is BRIE LARSON. MARVEL-L-OUS MOVIE. And the perfect warm up for AVENGERS: ENDGAME. B(rie)+
James Murphy: available for tea and stuff, with Brie, anytime 😉