Friday, November 10, 2023

Review: "THE MARVELS" is a Fun-Filled Marvel

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 49 of 2023 (No. 1938) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Marvels (2023)
Running time:  105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for action/violence and brief language
DIRECTOR:  Nia DaCosta
WRITERS:  Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik
PRODUCER:  Kevin Feige
EDITORS:  Catrin Hedström and Evan Schiff
COMPOSER:  Laura Karpman

SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION with elements of comedy

Starring:  Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Park See-joon, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Leila Farzad, Abraham Popoola, Lashana Lynch, and Samuel L. Jackson, Tessa Thompson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Kelsey Grammer

  • The Marvels is a direct sequel to the film, Captain Marvel (2019), and a continuation of the Disney+ miniseries, “Ms. Marvel” (2022).
  • The story brings Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel together to stop a Kree warrior named Dar-Benn from destroying several worlds in a bid to save the Kree home world, Hala.
  • The film is short and sweet and is also a quirky and weird science fiction superhero film that is similar in tone to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and to the Marvel film, Thor: Ragnarok (2017).
  • The Marvels' plot is a bit scattershot, but the fight and action scenes are highly energetic, resulting in a fun Marvel film full of likable characters.

The Marvels is a 2023 superhero film directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Marvel Studios.  The film is the 33rd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is also a direct sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel.  The Marvels is also a continuation of the Disney+/Marvel Studios television miniseries, "Ms. Marvel" (2022).

The film is headlined by the Marvel Comics character, Carol Danvers, who first appeared in the comic book, Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (cover dated: March 1968), and who later became Captain Marvel.  In The Marvels, Captain Marvel gets her powers entangled with two other similarly-powered individuals, forcing the trio to work together to save the universe.

The Marvels opens with a focus on Hala, the capital planet of the Kree Empire.  The collapse of the empire's “Supreme Intelligence” leads to a civil war among the Kree on their home world of Hala.  The result is that the planet is becoming barren as it loses its natural resources and its sun is rapidly going dark.  Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), the new leader of the Kree, retrieves one of two “Quantum Bands.”  She hopes to harness its power and to pair it with her staff, “the Universal Weapon,” as part of her scheme to save Hala.

On Earth, specifically in a home in Jersey City, New Jersey, teenager Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), who is also the superhero, “Ms. Marvel,” is dealing with teenage and family issues.  Kamala also happens to possess the other half of the Quantum Bands.

Meanwhile, above the Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), now residing at the S.A.B.E.R. space station, has detected a “jump point” (which allows for hyperspace travel) anomaly caused by Dar-Benn.  Nick Fury calls in Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), an astronaut who has the ability to manipulate all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, to investigate the jump point anomaly near S.A.B.E.R.

When Monica touches the jump point at the same time as Captain Marvel, it causes a reaction in which Monica, Carol, and Kamala switch places through teleportation.  Now, this reaction brings the three young women together in order to stop Dar-Benn from destroying several worlds in order to save her home world, Hala.  And Kamala thinks that she, Carol, and Monica can best do this as a team, a super-team she names “The Marvels.

In addition to being a sequel to the 2019 film, Captain Marvel, and being a continuation of the Ms. Marvel TV series, The Marvels includes story elements that appear in the Disney+ Marvel Studios miniseries, “WandaVision” (2021) and “Secret Invasion” (2023).  There are also elements from Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).  At this point, I wonder if watching Marvel movies means having to be familiar with what has happened in too many previous films and television series.  There is also a scene that runs in the middle of the end credits that references other movies based on Marvel Comics characters.

Still, I love The Marvels.  I have not subscribed to Disney+, and I only saw the fifth and sixth episodes of the Ms. Marvels miniseries when it was aired on the ABC broadcast network in early September (2023).  I love The Marvels because I can figure out what is going on without having seen everything else it references.  If I really want to know more, I can read Wikipedia summaries of the Disney+ series that I have not seen.

The Marvels is marvelously enjoyable.  It is a science fiction adventure comedy that makes a comedy of physical errors out of every fight.  It's more like Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017) than it is like any other Marvel film.  Director Nia DaCosta and her co-writers take time to develop the relationship between Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel.  Also, giving so much time to Kamala family:  her mother, Muneeba Khan (Zenobia Shroff); her father, Yusuf Khan (Mohan Kapur); and her older brother, Aamir Khan (Saagar Shaikh), gives the film a human element that keeps the sci-fi, outer space weirdness of The Marvels from entirely taking over the narrative.  Yes, the plot is a bit scattershot, but The Marvels is kinetic and packs a lot energy in its fight and action scenes.

The Marvels also gives us a lighter, funnier side of Nick Fury, and, the delights of Goose, the cat-like “Flerken” alien is multiplied this time.  Dar-Benn turns out to be one of the more ruthless and interesting of the MCU's recent villains.  And if that isn't enough, The Marvels has one of the MCU's best (if not the best) extra credit scenes.  The Marvels is refreshingly short, and while it is more loose than cohesive, it does remind me of one thing.  Every trip to the world of Marvel Studios' films is an out of this world experience.

[The film includes one extra-credits scenes that takes place during the middle of the credits (mid-credits).]

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Friday, November 10, 2023

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