Is “Captain Marvel” worth a date night? Yes!
The umpteenth Marvel superhero movie keeps things fresh. It’s the first film ever to be led by a female superhero. Viewers will love the often funny rapport between stars Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is set in 1995, giving it a string of fun retro surprises. Plus it sets up a ton of payoffs coming in “Avengers: Endgame” in late April.
However, the action can get confusing at times and superhero weariness sets in at points.
Marvel Studios is nearly twenty movies into the superhero movie madness that is collectively known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Marvel Studios and its parent company Disney feel the need to keep topping themselves in terms of action, spectacle and noise. On Monday night, this insanity crossed over into the real skies across Los Angeles when six actual Thunderbird fighter jets raced across the city as part of the world-premiere hoopla for its latest offering, “Captain Marvel.”
This show of extreme military force over a movie might seem a bit much. But it’s nothing compared to the dizzying mayhem unleashed onscreen at the height of this film’s frequent action sequences. This marks the first Marvel movie to feature a standalone female hero, finally catching up to DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman” a couple years back.
Superhero-plot fatigue is offset by humor and action scenes
This movie is not quite likely to induce wonder or make you marvel. However, it’s a fun escapade enough of the time to please fans of bombastic popcorn flicks. It sets up lots of key elements for the April 26 release of the biggest superhero movie of all time, “Avengers: Endgame.” This film is essential viewing for those planning to see “Endgame.” But for the average person, these movies are starting to get interchangeable and slightly annoying.
“Marvel” opens in a trippy, almost psychedelic fashion. A woman named Vers finds herself trapped in a nightmare. She’s trapped in a landscape decimated by battle and soon veers into and out of a reality that reveals she’s part of the Kree civilization on another planet. Vers spends her days training in hand to hand combat and assorted Jedi-style tactics under the supervision of Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Her biggest obstacle is the fact that she can’t control her temper. But she wants to master the ability to shoot ultra-powerful photon rays at will.
When a mission to retrieve a Kree spy from enemy Skrull territory goes awry, a frantic (and frankly confusing) battle ensues. The battle leads to her hopping in a pod-style spaceship and jetting off to a planet called C-53, aka Earth. Vers crash lands through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store in 1995. She’s quickly forced into battle with a Skrull that has also crashed and has the ability to morph into anyone it touches.
This leads to both a funny and rousing high-speed battle on a subway train between Vers (who soon takes on the Earth alias of fighter pilot Carol Danvers) and the Skrull in the form of an old woman. Seeing an old lady both throw down and get slammed around the inside of a subway car is certainly one of the most inventive and entertaining things I’ve seen in quite a while. The mayhem also draws the hot pursuit of government agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Coulson (Clark Gregg).
Finding the most unlikely superpowers
The agents force Vers to admit what’s going on. Fury is surprised to learn that both Vers (who winds up getting called Captain Marvel) and the Skrulls are in pursuit of an invention made by an Air Force scientist named Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). The invention enables movement at light speed.
As they engage in their quest, they find that almost no one is what they seem on a surface level. Vers learns that not only can she be powerful as a woman hero, but that sometimes keeping control of and channeling her emotions can be the greatest power of all.
The origins of key Marvel moments
“Marvel” stands the strong risk of feeling like a “been there, done that” proposition considering how many MCU movies there have been. But thanks to the quirky independent-filmmaker team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Marvel found a way to look at this from some fresh angles.
The 1995 setting enables all sorts of nostalgic pop culture gags throughout. The action scenes are set to the strong pool of female-driven rock that was available at that time. Larson, an Oscar-winner for the harrowing indie drama “Room,” also brings both emotional depth and a great deal of fun sass to her turn as the heroine.
It also provides the fun of seeing Jackson as his younger self, thanks to the ace effects team digitizing Jackson’s actual image from that year into life atop his current body. This results in him looking 25 years younger and starting the film without the eye patch that has become Fury’s trademark.
In fact, the most fun part of the film lies in its moments that answer questions including how Fury lost an eye in the first place. Trust me, you won’t harbor anywhere close to a decent guess. Plenty of other Easter eggs abound throughout. But the only wish I have is that this and future MCU movies remember to keep the human side as strong as the super heroics and not devolve into murky mayhem when the action hits.
As always in “Marvel” (well, outside of “Deadpool” films), the violence may be frantic but always bloodless. The language is almost entirely clean and there’s no sex or nudity. This is literally the definition of good clean fun at the movies.
Overall: 8 out of 10