By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – March 8, 2019)
Here’s the shortest way I can describe Captain Marvel to you in case you’re pressed for time. You can do far worse, and the second half is worth sitting through the slog of the first half hour to 40 minutes. While it’s not a game changer, it’s a Marvel film, which means you know what you’re getting into. It has its own strengths and weaknesses, but it exists to set the stage for what’s to come later this year. That’s going to be enough for it not to bomb, even with its title star deciding to get uber political in interviews leading up to it. Luckily for Brie Larson, no one is paying attention to the press junket, so she’ll be safe.
Captain Marvel is by no means an indispensable contributor to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, nor to Marvel Comics, but Carol Danvers does have an interesting story. The first stage of the movie tried to draw its audience in with a few one liners, but it doesn’t really hit until one narrative twist near the midway point. Up to that moment, I was ready to say it was dull, boring, and uninspired. One of the main reasons for that is Brie Larson plays Danvers the way Brie Larson plays herself, a very “too cool for school” nonchalant attitude that is off-putting in that it just comes across boring.
That said, I really like Brie Larson’s work a lot and was excited she got the role, but you can absolutely see the flaws she brings to the screen in the manner she plays Danvers. There was controversy in recent days surrounding Larson not smiling in the movie. She does, though not often, but that’s a ridiculous line or argument or gripe, because the origin story surrounds a woman who really doesn’t know who she is or where she comes from, despite THINKING she does. That’s the entire draw of the plot outside of the fact it has the power of Marvel behind it.
Visually, it’s not as striking as many of its predecessors, but that feels by design, as the vast majority of the movie takes place in the 1990s, which I enjoyed as I grew up during that decade, so the music, the various references, it all clicked for me in a way that a younger audience might struggle to appreciate. It does feel dated, again intentionally, and it works for the motif Captain Marvel is attempting to thrive inside.
Outside of Larson, who does shine much brighter in the second half of the film, Ben Mendelsohn is OUTSTANDING in this movie. Ever since the first season of Netflix’s Bloodline, he’s been worth paying attention to, and only when the source material has failed him has he been unimpressive. He and Samuel L. Jackson are both truly stellar in Captain Marvel, as are Lashana Lynch, Jude Law, and others. This is my favorite Nick Fury appearance in any Marvel film so far, because in some ways, it’s also HIS origin story, and Jackson just crushes the role.
Because it’s 2019 and so many films have come before it, one thing Captain Marvel benefits from is the ability for it to explain things in the other movies, which become little goosebump sequences for the nerdiest of hardcores. It’s a real crowd pleaser when it happens, and it happens at least three times before the credits roll. Speaking of which, you’re going to want to hang around until the middle of the credits at the very least, because it is essential content for Marvel going forward. I’ll leave it at that.
What Captain Marvel ISN’T is groundbreaking or particularly memorable, but what it IS…is generally entertaining and fun, once you get through the opening stages. The plot comes together in the latter stages, and by the time its over, you’ll be ready to see more of the character in the future. It’s certainly not one of the best Marvel films, but I’d give it a C+. I had fun with it. It’s just a shade under two hours, which is good, and doesn’t feel overly long. The humor picks up along with the story in the second half, and one “character” in particular will likely be the thing you both enjoy and remember most when it arrives. Also, please be sure you don’t miss the very beginning. Don’t be late, or you’ll regret what you miss, especially if you’re a longtime Marvel junkie.
It’s possible you’ll feel lost during that first half hour as well, wondering what exactly is going on, but the good news is, the story is incredibly simple once it all starts to make sense around the time of the twist. This is not a convoluted plot, even if it appears that way on the surface in the movie’s early stages. Just stay the course. You’ll know exactly what’s going on soon enough, and it’s a story that’s pretty fun to watch unfold once the plane lifts off and is safely in the air.
You can spend your money much worse this weekend than taking the family to see Captain Marvel. Language is minimal, it’s not particularly frightening, and everybody will find something to enjoy. It can be a little dull, so just know going in you might not be thrilled with the first half hour or so, but it DOES pick up to a degree that makes it all worth it in the end.
I’m @JMartZone. Page me.