D.C.’s Take: Captain Marvel

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe [MCU] has given us movies based on characters that nobody has heard of -- non-comic book readers went into movies like “Doctor Strange” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” not knowing any backstory, but still ended up loving the heroes in the long run. Now, we finally add “Captain Marvel” into the mix. Considering that it’s the first out of three MCU movies to be released this year and the first female-led movie in this universe, we shall see if she’s truly the one to defeat Thanos. 

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), also known as Vers on the Kree planet Hala, doesn’t remember a single thing about Earth. She’s a member of the Kree Starforce trained by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her emotions. Fighting against a group of aliens called Skrulls, shapeshifters who can become any person, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), she crash-lands on Earth in 1995 while on the run from the Skrulls. 

Were my expectations high for “Captain Marvel”? Of course they were, but the road leading up to the release was challenging to ignore. Some say the trailers were underwhelming -- Larson looks boring in the role, and there was the fact trolls were complaining about a female-lead superhero movie. The amount of ridicule that “Captain Marvel” has gotten before it even came out was disrespectful. I went into this with an open mind and to view this from my own opinion. I can easily say that while the latest MCU film is a mixed bag, there’s still some entertainment value found in here. 

Larson was the perfect choice to play the titular heroine back three years ago. Danvers got some sass and intimidation for this fish-out-of-water character who’s basically Jason Bourne because of her memory loss (with glowing fists). People love the Oscar-winning actress, and with that being said, her performance was good, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was great. Most of her line delivery comes off as a bit dull, which is disappointing coming from an actress like her. There are a lot of scenes with Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, with seamless de-aging effects, as a young Nick Fury working as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent; they have perfect chemistry with each other. 

As for the action sequences presented, they were above average. However, there wasn’t a particular moment that stood out throughout this. 

Mendelsohn, the decade’s go-to actor for playing the villain, as Talos was surprisingly quite good in a role that kept my attention whenever he’s onscreen. It wasn’t until later in the movie where I started to actually care more for Talos. The Skrulls themselves are also a pretty cool race. 

The film’s real MVP: Goose the cat. Named after the character from “Top Gun,” this adorable feline made me smile in every scene. Best cat featured in a film? Indeed.  

Co-writing and directing duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson,” “Mississippi Grind”) take charge in helming “Captain Marvel,” and I couldn’t help but wonder why their direction wasn’t all that energetic. I don’t know if it’s because of their indie background before this, but there’s just something about this origin story that doesn’t feel all that unique or like something we haven’t seen before. We don’t get a lot of backstory about Carol on Earth except for flashbacks, which I do find as a justifiable reason enough to care about her, for the most part.

Aside from not enough gravitas towards her, the first act was kind of a mess to get through because of its pacing and it takes a while for the story to really get going. That’s what happens when you have five writers on a project, including the directors. Nothing was giving me the “wow” factor when the action took place until the third act started. Since this movie takes place in the mid-1990s, it was a good idea to have the setting in that decade. There were a ton of references that either hit or just relied too much on nostalgia.

Some are going to love “Captain Marvel,” and some will find it weak. It isn’t the strongest entry in the MCU with its formulaic story and can sometimes feel a bit messy, but it’s still capable of being fun for fans alike. This shouldn’t necessarily be the studio’s answer to “Wonder Woman” and the success that brought, but it can be rewatchable despite being sort of a letdown. Hopefully, we will see this character used more usefully later on down the road. 

Grade: B- 

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