Not Too Marvel-ous
This is a Marvel film in a nutshell. This is definitely one of the worst films of the pack. I give it a C-.
The latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released last week to roaring box office success. “Captain Marvel” follows the story of a young warrior from an alien planet suffering from amnesia — she can’t remember anything before five years ago. When a mission takes her to Earth in 1995, she must combat invading shapeshifters, called Skrulls, and stop them from acquiring a massive light speed generator.
Now you might think, “that synopsis sounds like nonsense!” — as they usually do for all MCU films. I cut these films a lot of slack because the MCU is an ambitious feat that should be praised for its efforts, but it’s not high art. However, Captain Marvel fell flat for me. There wasn’t much signature charm brought by the lead actor — like a Robert Downey, Jr. or a Chris Hemsworth. Don’t get me wrong, Brie Larson was good in the movie. She has good comedic timing and great chemistry with almost everyone on screen. However, a lot of this movie’s criticism revolves around her and the controversy surrounding her feminist remarks. The controversy in and of itself is ludicrous.
If you’re not aware, Larson made comments on how a majority of film criticism for the highest grossing movies comes from white men and she demanded more representation in the community. This statement not only condescends and stereotypes the critics who still laud diverse films, but also gives radicals online a reason to boycott the film or intentionally review it negatively, thus proving her point. Now I’m here to tell you that the film is bad, but for legitimate reasons involving the filmmaking.
Captain Marvel may be the fastest-paced film in the MCU, and I don’t mean this in a good way. The movie jumps back and forth between characters whose names I don’t even know. Who were her friends traveling halfway across the galaxy to reach her? Thanks to Samuel L. Jackson’s appearances in eight previous installments and the title of the movie, I can give you the names of two characters. The rest are a mystery to me.
The first fifteen minutes are incomprehensible and boring. It’s full of the Marvel tropes that we always look over as being bad, but at least there’s a build up to it. One example is “fight-sposition,” where a mentor delivers heavy-handed exposition while fighting or training. This happens in the opening scene, and this start does not inspire optimism. How about the trope where the hero gets back up dramatically after being knocked down? The directors intercut six shots of her at different ages standing up in the climax. This is the blunt display of her overpowering strength that was inside her the entire time. You even see that edit in the trailer, and even then I rolled my eyes at how uninspiring it was.
Also, if we’re to believe that everything she remembers is just from the past five years on an alien planet, then how come she assimilates so well on Earth? There are absolutely no fish-out-of-water elements in this film. At least Wonder Woman got that right and made it amusing, while all Captain Marvel did was ask for directions to a RadioShack. She was unphased by all other interactions with people and technology.
This film feels like there were outsider filmmakers trying to replicate the cookie-cutter Marvel formula. If you’re going to stick to the standard format and have little creative input, at least commit to it and do it right. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who are mostly known for the 2006 indie film Half Nelson, were given the responsibility of kicking off the next phase of the MCU after Avengers: Endgame. Maybe producer Kevin Feige wanted to replicate the success of the Russo Brothers with another duo of directors helming a film about an original Avenger who is also a captain with the help of Nick Fury.
I have very few good things to say about this film. It mostly concerns the acting. Ben Mendelsohn is an intriguing villain with good motivations (too bad I can’t remember his name). I could do my research and look it up for this review, but that would just undercut my point that I actually need to do that. Annette Bening is always great, but she was wasted on this script. Larson and Jackson had great chemistry in the portion of the movie that was a buddy-cop film.
Once again, the politicization of popular movies has proven that we can’t have nice things and just watch a fun movie. Captain Marvel hits all the Marvel beats, but that isn’t hard: undercut a dramatic moment with a joke here, throw in an Easter Egg there and mixix in serviceable special effects. This is a Marvel film in a nutshell. This is definitely one of the worst films of the pack. I give it a C-.