Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review: "CAPTAIN MARVEL" Earns Her Name and Her Own Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2019) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Captain Marvel (2019)
Running time:  124 minutes (2 hours, 4 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language
DIRECTORS:  Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
WRITERS:  Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet; from a story by Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet
PRODUCER:  Kevin Feige
EDITORS:  Debbie Berman and Elliot Graham
COMPOSER:  Pinar Toprak


Starring:  Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Akira Akbar, Algenis Perez Soto, and Stan Lee

Captain Marvel is a 2019 superhero film directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and produced by Marvel Studios.  The film is based on Marvel Comics characters that first appeared in the comic books Marvel Super-Heroes issues #12 and #13 (Marvel Comics).  Captain Marvel the movie focuses on a young woman with extraordinary powers who is plagued by memory problems even as she serves one side in a galactic war between two alien races.

Captain Marvel opens in 1995 on Hala, the capital planet of the Kree Empire.  The focus is on a young woman named “Vers” (Brie Larson), a member of “Starforce,” a Kree special ops unit.  Starforce leader, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), leads Vers and the rest of his unit on a rescue mission into the territory of the Skrulls, alien shape-shifters who are the Kree Empire's mortal enemies.

During the mission, Vers is captured, but upon escaping, she finds herself near the planet Earth.  She crash lands in Los Angeles where she finds herself immediately confronted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and also by a Skrull unit led by a commander named Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).  Vers, however, has more than S.H.I.E.L.D. and Skrulls to worry her.  Vers is plagued by fragments of memories and by the visions of a woman named Carol Danvers.

Captain Marvel will face inevitable comparisons to 2017's Wonder Woman, the first major film featuring a female comic book superhero in the solo and lead role.  Like Wonder Woman the character, Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, is not a woman willing to allow a man to take the lead or have control over her.  Captain Marvel is an origin story of sorts, but it is not a coming-of-age story, nor does it offer the heroic arc.  Carol Danvers/Vers is a powerful woman striving to “be her best self,” because she is already an able and capable woman, even before she gained great power.

Oscar-winning actress, Brie Larson, captures the woman that is Carol Danvers/Vers with a level of self-confidence that I found off-putting.  Even after years of reading comic book featuring female superheroes, I am still getting used to women who are every bit as confident and self-possessed as the ultra-powerful male superheroes.  Carol Danvers does not need an Obi-Wan, an Alfred Pennyworth, or a Ben Parker.  In Captain Marvel, Larson is helping me get over my male-centric notions of the hero.

Samuel L. Jackson also gives a good performance as Nick Fury.  Since Captain Marvel's story is set a decade before the story in Marvel Studio's first film, Iron Man (2008), we get a younger Fury.  Jackson was digitally “de-aged” to play the younger Fury, but his sarcasm and edgy personality remains.  This film also gives Jackson a chance to show a softer, playful side (thanks to “Goose” the cat).  [Clark Gregg reprises his character, Phil Coulson, and is also de-aged.]  Jackson makes excellent use of his opportunities to be humorous, after all, he does not need to be the bad-ass, because (as I just said) Danvers does not need a sidekick or male helper, even if she does have one or two...

Ben Mendelsohn gives a nuanced turn in two roles, as Talos (a Skrull) and Keller (a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent).  There is something about Mendelsohn that reminds me of Martin Freeman (Black Panther; The Hobbit film series), and I'm always down to be reminded of Martin Freeman.  Also, here, Jude Law makes an art of being shifty and slippery as the Kree, Yon-Rogg.

Captain Marvel is delightfully off-beat and odd.  Perhaps, some of the critics and fans (trolls) who claim that Marvel Studios' films are too alike will be satisfied with a film that is as different as its title character is (but probably not).  I cannot quite put to words why I like Captain Marvel so much, but I can say that I did not want it to end.  I wanted more, much more of Captain Marvel.

8 of 10

Saturday, March 9, 2019

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