Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted April 26, 2019
An example of how seldom I've gone to theaters of late, on the day most everyone else was gearing up to see Avengers: Endgame, I finally got around to the previous MCU film, Captain Marvel, on the last day of its seventh week on screen. Not sure why it took me so long, because I had been looking forward it. The little I know about Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel I gleaned during wikipedia searches back before and during my reading of G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel comics. There are probably many comic geeks who nitpick all film and TV versions of their favorite characters, but considering the multiple iterations of many of those characters they don't have much reason to complain. For instance, the first Captain Marvel was a male Kree warrior by the name of Mar-Vell (portrayed in this film by a woman, Annette Bening), who rebelled against his superiors and became a defender of Earth. Even though Carol Danvers is the current Captain Marvel in comics, she was the seventh person to take the title, and not even the first woman. That was Monica Rambeau, a New Orleans policewoman. Not sure if they're setting up a long-game for that character, since in this film she's just an 11-year old girl (Akira Akbar), the daughter of Carol's friend and fellow pilot Maria (Lashana Lynch). Carol had been Ms. Marvel before assuming the mantle of Captain Marvel, but hopefully when we get to see Ms. Marvel in film, or TV, it will be the current one, Kamala Khan.
Not being a comic geek, I don't have to worry about all those changes. I just want an entertaining, coherent story, that is at least consistent within the movie itself, and of course, any further film explorations of the character should maintain that consistency. If there are changes later, I just hope they are logical within the fantasy framework already established. With that in mind, is Captain Marvel an entertaining movie? Yes, very much so. Is it logical and consistent? Maybe, maybe not, but anything I could criticize might stem from a misunderstanding of certain concepts. What follows will contain mild spoilers. One thing I may have initially misunderstood is the implant on Vers/Carol's neck. Was it meant to enhance her powers, or to control them? I originally thought the former, but I guess it's the latter that applies. When she is first in the presence of the Supreme Intelligence she envisions it as a woman she doesn't recognize, although she had been led to believe the AI would manifest itself as someone important to her. She has no conscious memories of her pre-Kree life. Later, when she recovers her memories of Earth, she realizes the woman is Mar-Vell, who presented herself on Earth as Dr. Wendy Lawson, Carol's mentor. Why then, when she is before the Supreme Intelligence the second time, after she remembers Mar-Vell/Dr. Lawson, it still has the same appearance yet exhibits a personality and agenda that's the exact opposite of Lawson? That may be because that time she was under restraints placed upon her by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), her Kree commander, which were controlling the situation. However, when she was within the realm of the Supreme Intelligence she was able to remove that neck implant, even though she would not have been able to do so in the "real" world due to those restraints. Minor details, just a couple of things I wondered about.
The rest of the film is exciting and dramatic, with a few bits of humor thrown in. It's set in 1995, so visual trickery was used to de-age Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg, and for the most part that was successful and believable. The requisite action scenes are here, car and train chases, and fights employing multiple martial arts and weapons. Most of those are well staged, but also frenetic enough, with quick cuts and blurry motion, so we don't have time to notice which are done by the actors, which by stunt people, or if some are pure CGI. The makeup and/or effects of the Kree and Skrull characters are seamless too. Even though I knew Gemma Chan was in it, it took a long time to realize she was the Kree warrior Minn-Erva. I do have a question about Jude Law's character though. Wikipedia says Yon-Rogg is Kree, but they didn't use the blue skin makeup for him like all the other Kree. Were they implying he was captured from another planet as Carol had been?
Appropriately enough, my favorite character, and the one I felt did the best acting, was Carol Danvers as played by Brie Larson. Her Kree cohorts, especially Yon-Rogg, were always complaining about her emotions limiting her effectiveness as a warrior. But that was the best, the most human of her characteristics, the fact that she cared, that she thought about the morality of her actions, with her sense of humor helping maintain a balance of right and wrong even before she remembered her past on Earth. Second to her, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, an intelligent, resourceful, confident black woman, fully cognizant of all the roadblocks in her path to success in her chose profession. And a loving, compassionate mother and friend. Ben Mendelsohn comes next, even though most of his performance is hindered by the heavy Skrull makeup (or was that CGI?), as well as the fact his comedic demeanor as Talos belied the seriousness of the Skrull's plight. Everyone else is good, or at least competent in their roles. I actually have no complaints other than those minor quibbles regarding plot logic. I do recommend it, and I shouldn't have waited so long to see it. I'll want to see it again for sure, maybe even in the theater again since it should hang around for a few more weeks at least, perhaps boosted by those who see Endgame but skipped this one before. I may buy the Blu-Ray, which I am doing much less frequently these days. That hasn't been announced yet, although a pre-order for a digital copy is up at Amazon.
UPDATE: On DVD and Blu-Ray June 11.
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