Review: Captain Marvel Is a Safe, Galactic Ride (Yes, Even For White Men)

Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.

Captain Marvel Video Review

The Good:

From early on into the film, directors Boden and Fleck do nice job of establishing the setting of the movie. The visuals in Captain Marvel are pretty cool, and some of them might appear to be pretty familiar. There’s a bit of a Blade Runner meets Star Wars (without the light sabers) and a pinch of Asgard from the Thor movies when we visit the alien worlds. It certainly would’ve been nice had more of the film taken place outside of Earth, but for now it will suffice. With a lot of the action and story taking place on Earth, I think you could compare the vibe of Captain Marvel more so to the first Thor movie even though you might be hoping for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1. (2014)

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

In a way, the 90s time period felt like a fun character all in itself in Captain Marvel. The 90’s music selection added a great touch throughout the movie without being much of a distraction. Combine that with the now dated technology of that time, and you’re definitely going to get a few laughs from seeing just how far we’ve come with computers and such. Actually, I thought it was pretty ingenious to show the major contrast between the incredibly advanced Kree technologies with that of Earth’s technology of the time. I think one potential fan favorite scene will be in the selection of Captain Marvel’s uniform color. Even though it felt like watching a character select scene in a video game, it was still an enjoyable way for audiences to experience the advanced tech.

As far as the plot in Captain Marvel, it’s pretty straight forward. If you’re unfamiliar with the comics, then there are a few minor twists and reveals that help to progress the story. If you happen to be familiar with Captain Marvel’s comic origin, then there is an interesting retcon for some character(s) to keep the story fresh without ruining the core comic inspiration. Overall, her story is pretty close to about 80% of her comic origin. Primary difference will be the series of flashbacks that we’ve seen in the trailers, and that gives this movie a slightly different angle to pursue.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

I do think that the cinematography was done quite well to help enhance many of the action sequences. Many of the fights and battles are edited just right to keep the intensity at a high level. Best of all, unlike many other superhero movies, the 3rd act doesn’t fall apart with wonky special effects and such.  It was certainly an enjoyable way to finish the movie.

When it comes to performances, I think Brie Larson did an adequate job as Captain Marvel. Her strongest points probably come in her witty charm and interactions with Samuel L. Jackson. Of course, Sam Jackson (“Nick Fury”) delivers a solid performance in the film and doesn’t disappoint. Crazy thing here is that I think Ben Mendelsohn probably had the most depth in his character and range of all the characters in the movie.

Personally, I really wanted more from the supporting characters in this movie because they each did very well with their roles. Clark Gregg (“Agent Coulson”) was a nice addition to the film that reinforced the positive qualities he’s demonstrated in other Marvel movies and shows. Lashana Lynch (Maria Rambeau) also gave a performance that left me wanting to see more of her character in the MCU. Last but not least, as many people would suspect, “Goose” the cat has a couple of scene stealers throughout the movie too.

The Bad:

I think the biggest issue with Captain Marvel is just how predictable the movie can be. There were a number of obvious signs from various characters that gave away their motivations. Many of those motivations are exactly what are supposed to play into the twists in the movie. However, it doesn’t take very long for someone to figure out what’s truly going on way before the movie actually reveals the turning point.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Director Ryan Fleck, Ben Mendelsohn, Director Anna Boden..Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2019

I think the main reason why the movie was so predictable was because the writing just didn’t do this film very many favors. Boden and Fleck not only directed the movie, but they also wrote it. Having flashbacks be a part of the movie might have sounded like a good way to include some mystery into the movie, but the execution of their writing just didn’t translate. To be fair, the writing in Captain Marvel does work very well when the characters are sharing in some witty banter. However, I believe that some of the writing may have limited the performances of some actors too. This may be the very reason why I couldn’t exactly put Jude Law’s acting in my good section. Not because he’s a bad actor, or because he did a bad job. More so to the fact that the predictability of the writing took away some of the impact that his character carries.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

In the case of Brie Larson, I just couldn’t get a solid read on her acting either. She’s an Oscar award winning actor. So I know the talent is there, but I found myself kind of emotionally indifferent with her character. Maybe that was intentional due to her quest of discovering herself. For whatever reason, when she makes certain discoveries about herself, or her past, it just didn’t seem to have much of a payoff. Again, this is probably due to the movie being too predictable.

[UPDATE] Upon a second viewing of the film, I finally realized why Larson’s performance was a bit underwhelming. It was because her character really doesn’t grow very much at all. She’s essentially the same person she was at the beginning of the movie compare to the end. The only real changes comes through her powers and abilities.  As a comparison, take Tony Stark in the first Iron Man movie. He was cocky and arrogant and reckless. By the time the movie ends, despite having his new suit of armor, and still being somewhat arrogant, we saw a spark of change in his personality as he realized a sense of responsibility with his new position. As for Captain Marvel’s personality, there’s very little variation. By the end of the movie, I don’t think we know who the true Carol Danvers really is, and the only change we see in her are in her powers. (Rather than in her character.) Hopefully a Captain Marvel sequel will help her character go through some type of growth that alters her character (for better or worse).

Another issue that was a bit problematic for Larson’s character was her ascension to a new level of power. Thanks to the trailers, Captain Marvel reaching her full power feels a bit lackluster. In hindsight, I’m really wondering why Marvel would even show those scenes at all if they weren’t going to give us even more in the film. (For you Dragon Ball Z fans out there, imagine if Goku reached Super Saiyan 1 in only 2 episodes rather than 10.) In this film, the process of her learning about her powers and going all out just felt a bit rushed and undeveloped. I’m not saying that she needed to have a stereotypical training montage like we’ve seen repeatedly done in other superhero movies. I just think that her abilities could’ve been teased a bit more before the climatic reveal. Instead it seemed like we just kept getting her best Arthur meme” or “Iron Fist” impressions.

The Verdict:

Captain Marvel is a fun yet formulaic Marvel film. It delivers on that “Marvel humor” and gives you a decent amount of action to keep you engaged. Unless I missed some major Easter eggs in the film, Captain Marvel does not feel like a major game changer for the MCU. The movie doesn’t feel like it takes many risks, in my opinion, besides some superficial changes to certain characters.

While Captain Marvel may not carry the same level of excitement and impact as a Captain America or Iron Man movie, it does accomplish the job of introducing us to a legit hero in Captain Marvel herself. You can approach this movie with similar expectations as you would with Doctor Strange or an Ant-Man movie.

Brie Larson (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Women In Film)

Alright, I should probably address the elephant in the room here too surrounding this movie. There are a certain group of people (white males primarily) who were offended with the comments made by Brie Larson. Personally, I believe her comments have been misinterpreted. Larson has clarified her position as not being exclusionary to white males, but rather of being inclusive to women and people of color.

There was also a concern that Captain Marvel was going to somehow be a politically feminist propaganda movie or something of that nature. Well I can say that everyone can rest easy that Captain Marvel does not feel like what people think a feminist movie would look like. This movie is not doing any male bashing, or feminist political talking points being thrown around to pander to the masses. Captain Marvel is just a Marvel movie that just so happens to have a female lead. The closest thing to an agenda this movie may take on is simply having more female representation while not compromising the comic story of Captain Marvel in the process. So if you happen to be a white male, you can enjoy this movie the same way you would any other Marvel film.

 

Okay, now let’s address another concern some people may have, and that’s in regards to Captain Marvel’s powers. Is she truly the most powerful MCU hero? Maybe. We won’t know any of that until much later on when she displays more feats of power and strength. While I won’t spoil the movie, I will simply suggest for people to think about Vision’s introduction in Age of Ultron, and use that as a comparison. When he was introduced, he didn’t just overly dominate the threat of Ultron, instead he just tipped the scales in the Avengers’ favor. I think this will be the similar case with Captain Marvel when or if she appears in Avengers Endgame. So don’t worry, I highly doubt she’s going to just swoop in and destroy Thanos by herself.

With all that said, feel free to go see Captain Marvel in theaters. Be sure to stay until the very end because per usual, there are two post credit scenes you don’t want to miss.

Genre:  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writers: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Stars: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Mckenna Grace, with Annette Bening, with Clark Gregg, and Jude Law

Captain Marvel is in theaters March 8th, 2019.  Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

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  • 7/10
    Acting - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Cinematography - 7.5/10
  • 6.5/10
    Plot/Screenplay - 6.5/10
  • 8/10
    Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Buyability - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Recyclability - 8/10
7.5/10

About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He freelances as a writer and video content creator for sites such as MovieTickets.com. Be sure to join the other 33K+ fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]