The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic:
on CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019, 123 minutes, PG-13)
The Quick of It -
The first round of Marvel films is nearing its end. We have experienced our ups and downs… no need to mention which ones… (cough…Thor), but we now have the final films hitting theaters, adding one more name to the ENDGAME bucket.
There is a ton of history with the Captain’s legacy, and you must know DC had the name first to realize how much history is involved. Legal battles and fighting to keep the intellectual property rights… a drama of its own. In this film, we are presented with a later version of the CAP, a Marvel version, probably to focus on Marvel’s continued implementation of staying relative with mainstream topics. CAP MARVEL’s central theme and call to action is the empowerment of women. The truth though is that the theme is subtle this go-a-round, which I appreciated. If nothing else, that is the whole purpose of superheroes anyways, to see as role-model material, not as a tool for social justice.
This is an origin story that delivers that typical Marvel formula we have come to know. Brie Larson (ROOM and THE SPECTACULAR NOW) dons the suit to fight… well, no spoilers. She is joined by Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, and Jude Law. The script is simple enough, so easily dialed-in by the cast, having decent performances from everyone. When the words struggled, we just shook it off and kept going, knowing we are talking about aliens and weird… stuff. Hard to keep a sense of tension with this type of storytelling.
As a whole, this is an enjoyable film. This project is led by the directing/writing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, a pairing that started long before this project. I would say this outing will keep them working for a few more years in Hollywood. The CAP has plenty of action and comedy to keep you entertained, and not bad for tackling an origin film. Outside a few snafus in keeping to the standard rules of continuity, everything works. (Although, those snafus still bother me.)
But I am going to say the end product is still lacking… and probably a part of the negative buzz you hear. I will point out from how I feel, there is nothing special that makes this film ‘remarkable’. By that, I mean that if you are creating a story at such a high level, you want it to stand out, not fit in with the rest. The CAP does not do this for me, not making me walk out of the theater thinking I watched something new and mind-blowing. Too many trope plot points implemented to tell the story. We all have seen this ‘story’ told a number of times, just with different people. Proof of this deficiency – the cat steals the show. That should not happen.