Wednesday 24 April 2019

Captain Marvel ★★★★☆

The latest Marvel superhero to get the silver screen treatment is the Captain (Brie Larson*) herself. She lands in 1995 with her memories in disarray, looking for answers to multiple questions while fighting an intergalactic terrorist threat on behalf of the Kree Starforce.

*Larson courted controversy in the build-up to the release of Captain Marvel, calling for more diversity from film critics. It’s a fair cause, somewhat ruined by the phrase; “I don’t want to hear what a white man has to say..” It got people in their feelings and led to numerous 0-star reviews online before the movie came out.

As a white guy, her quote puts me in a somewhat awkward position. I enjoyed the film, ( I expect most others will too) and I don’t see any problem with her agenda. On the other hand, if I did think the film was a steaming turd, her provocative statement is a great defence against any criticism I could muster.

Samuel L Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, and it’s set so long ago that he still has hair, doesn’t know about the existence of aliens, and moves surprisingly well for a man who is going to be 71 in December. Fury provides support throughout, while Jude Law heads up the supporting cast as the Captain’s mentor Yon-Rogg. Annette Bening plays Kree leader Supreme Intelligence, taking the form of the person admired the most by the viewer. 

The majority of the film takes place on Earth, although lower stakes don’t necessarily make for a boring movie. As you might expect, the titular character takes up the majority of the focus, as she slowly begins to remember that she’s Carol Danvers, a former crack pilot in the Air Force. Amnesia isn’t the freshest narrative device and it leads down a familiar path. We know what Carol is capable of, so she’s the one playing catch up while fighting average mooks that even the weakest Avenger would handle easily. Shapeshifting enemies are another device we’ve all seen before, but it works well enough as the main character gets up to speed with her ridiculous power levels. It doesn’t help when you’re a god in comparison to everyone around you, but she has to be to have a chance against in the upcoming war with Thanos.

Aside from a few cringe moments, there’s enough Marvel magic to keep the average viewer interested throughout the latest origin story, and it’s always going to succeed because it’s a bridge between the two Infinity War films. Captain Marvel is vaguely reminiscent of the original Thor, with an OP hero struggling to understand her powers on an Alien world. Unlike Thor, she doesn’t bother with romance, which is actually pretty refreshing. The lack of a love interest means there are fewer filler scenes and more time for cracking jokes and moving the story along. Carol begins to remember her past life on Earth, and she realises her true potential by the time the film builds to a satisfying climax.

CGI continues to improve with each film, and the reported $150m budget was well spent recreating 1995 faithfully. From Blockbuster Video to outdated tech, it’s full of nostalgic hits for anyone old enough to remember the turn of the millennium. It might only be a stopgap before she goes on to meet Thanos with the rest of the surviving Avengers, but Captain Marvel’s origin story is worth watching.

James Millin-Ashmore

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