'Captain Marvel' Review #1

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With the highly-anticipated “Avengers: Endgame” only seven weeks away, Marvel Studios is squeezing in one more character origin story. And this one just happens to also be a “universe” origin story.

“Captain Marvel” stars Oscar-winner Brie Larson as military pilot Carol Danvers. She acquires radioactive powers, so she has more energy than every other superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet, her movie may have the least amount of energy of any in this blockbuster film saga.

“Captain Marvel” is primarily set in 1995, but there are also plenty of flashbacks to Danvers as a child and in the Air Force. Along the way we also get the backstories of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Both actors are digitally de-aged to look younger. When it comes to how this gimmick works from scene to scene, let’s just say: Results May Vary.

Other than Marvel trying to establish a strong female stamp character presence (for once they’re behind DC in that department), the main purpose of “Captain Marvel” is to provide fans with the final pieces of the puzzle before April’s epic “Endgame” finale. How was the Avenger initiative formed? How did Danvers become the key figure of the group? And what really happened to Fury’s left eye?

Brie Larson
Brie Larson

Those questions – and a few more – are answered in “click bait” moments throughout “Captain Marvel”. No movie should be made simply for divulging tidbits of info, but that’s exactly the case here. Outside of these “aha” moments, there aren’t any sparks in the script, visuals or performances. When a cat (who doesn’t talk) is the crowd-pleasing character in a Marvel movie, you know there’s trouble.

The best word to describe “Captain Marvel” is tedious. Throughout the two hours, I kept waiting for something exciting or compelling – a plot twist, second layer or even an exciting cameo. That prayer is never answered. Some moments are unintentionally funny, but the majority of the time this MCU installment is inflicted with the worst possible disease a superhero action film could suffer from: it’s dull.

Directors and co-writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck helmed the underrated 2015 drama “Mississippi Grind”. That film co-starred Ben Mendelsohn, who appears here as the sorta villain. But his storyline feels misguided. The obvious 90s references are way too cute. Larson is uninspiring as the lead and isn’t given a whole lot to do. And Jackson doesn’t sell weak well. No one wants to see a wimpy Nick Fury. At least Annette Bening seems to be having fun in her role as a Carol’s mysterious flight instructor.

As was the case with both Thor and Doctor Strange in “Avengers: Infinity War”, I’m hoping the Captain Marvel character works better in an ensemble setting in “Endgame” than she does as a standalone in her own film.

There’s a great Stan Lee tribute in the open and a good “easter egg” closing credits scene. But in between, don’t expect anything close to marvelous.

Jackson Murphy: Emmy Award-winning Film Critic / Entertainment Reporter. Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. (@CriticsChoice), SAG-AFTRA (@SAGAwards)