Landon Hilst | Echo
The mighty Marvel machine has unleashed a powerful new hero into its cinematic universe.
"Captain Marvel" arrived in theaters following an awkward marketing campaign. The trailers didn't necessarily generate the same ecstatic response that was received by other superhero films, and with a lead star making polarizing comments regarding certain political agendas, Marvel's first foray into the female-led superhero movie seems to have been plagued by bad press since the early stages.
Actress Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, a noble warrior gifted with extraordinary abilities in manipulating cosmic energy. This makes her incredibly strong and durable. She is caught in a struggle between her allegiance to the Kree Empire and her past on Earth; Danvers must decide where her loyalties lie and what kind of hero that will shape her into. This adventure sees her travel the cosmos, fight alien invaders and experience the glorious pop-culture of 1990s America. Teaming up with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the duo commits to stopping an intergalactic threat and discover the secrets to Carol's fractured past along the way.
Say what you will about the behind the scenes drama, but it has become clear that Marvel has another financial hit on its hands with the super-heroine grossing an estimated $153 million in North America.
It is unfortunate to say that this movie isn't as good as its financial record would indicate. Notable independent filmmaking duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck pulled double duty writing the screenplay and directing the film. However, with no noticeable style to this piece, "Captain Marvel" ends up falling short of the kind of cinematography seen among recent Marvel pictures like the Oscar winning "Black Panther." Additionally, much of the action is intermingled with some odd licensed music which amount to awkward, vanilla fight scenes.
The script doesn't provide Larson with enough meaningful dialogue for her performance to really stand out. On top of that, Larson doesn't bring much to the table when it comes to Carol Danver's personality aside from a bit of sarcastic humor, an annoying trend for many Marvel lead characters which leaves little variety in performance. Larson is an extremely talented actress, having won the academy award for Best Actress for her emotional role in 2015's "Room," but as the lead in "Captain Marvel," it is clear she didn't bring the same level of quality to Carol Danvers.
The real stars of this movie come in the form of Carol's best friend and fellow Air Force test pilot, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and the shape-shifting alien, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Lynch effortlessly portrays a tenacity when it comes to battle, a solemness in her past with Carol and a sweet devotion in the scenes shared with her on-screen daughter, Monica (Akira Akbar).
On the other hand, with the exception of a few scenes, Mendelsohn wears a synthetic green skin and a mischievous personality that bring the Skrull leader to life. With the power to change his appearance to look like anyone, despite being a master manipulator, Talos is surprisingly charming. Without giving too much away, Mendelsohn gets to show off his skills after the first act as the plot thickens. These two performances just serve as reminders of how bland Brie Larson comes across in certain scenes.
Dismissable action scenes, a slow first act and an uncharismatic lead produce the biggest problems for "Captain Marvel," which pull focus from the more enjoyable aspects of the movie. This includes Ben Mendelsohn and Lashana Lynch's great performances as well as the plot's course correction around the second act, leading to a better paced and more interesting narrative. Sam Jackson's young Nick Fury is as good as he always is and the greater ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will leave fans of the franchise happy. Due to these reasons, "Captain Marvel" receives a 3 out of 5 stars. The film is currently in theaters now and is rated PG-13.