REVIEW: ‘Captain Marvel’ soars in first film

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than the locomotive. I’m talking about Captain Marvel, of course.

The latest film from Marvel just so happens to feature a hero named Captain Marvel. Her real name is Carol Danvers, though, and she’s portrayed by Academy Award winner Brie Larson. The film picks up with her living on a planet controlled by the Kree, a powerful alien empire. She’s commonly referred to with the name Vers and is a member of the Kree special ops squad, Starforce.

In the first act, it’s established that Vers doesn’t remember anything before she became a member of Starforce. However, she remains focused on her mission, which is to fight against Skrulls, another alien race perceived as terrorists by the Kree. Through a series of events, that mission eventually leads her to Earth, where she meets SHIELD Agent Nick Fury. Witnessing the Skrull situation, Fury decides to partner with Vers and the two work together on the mission. In doing so, the protagonist learns more about her past.

“Captain Marvel” starts things off a little rocky. The other worldly set-up is kind of hard to get into and the first mission scene is somewhat forgettable. There’s a lot of exposition dumped onto the audience about the Kree vs Skrull conflict and the Starforce team isn’t all that interesting. The setting and action isn’t off-putting in the early scenes, but it’s not a fantastic hook, either.

Then, Carol makes it to Earth, meets Fury, and that’s where this flick really hits its stride. Once the two team up, the film transitions from a sci-fi space epic to a sort of buddy-cop movie, and it’s enjoyable. The entertainment value builds by watching Carol and Fury team up on this mission and it coincides with a mystery unraveling related to Danvers’ past. It combines for a solid second act, leading to a climax that’s an absolute blast.

Captain Marvel screencap
Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios

The movie’s middle is benefited quite a bit by the interactions between Carol and Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), a friend from her days in the Air Force who she doesn’t remember. There’s also a twist that takes place around this time, giving the movie another point of interest. The only qualm with the second act is a sequence where Carol is being shown photos of her past life and it’s simply rushed.

For the film’s final third, audiences are treated to some really entertaining and fun moments. The onscreen action, camaraderie between the lead characters that go on the final mission, and even the choice of music makes for an enjoyable watch. There’s is a final battle type situation taking place toward the end that could have been a bit more climactic, though.

A lot of what works for “Captain Marvel” is the cast . Larson, for example, is really strong as the titular character, especially as Carol becomes a more layered with revelations about her past. Watching her start to realize who she really is, and who she needs to become is rather engaging.

Jackson, meanwhile, is reliable in the supporting role, and the technology to make him appear younger is spot on.

Stealing the show now and then, though, is Ben Mendelsohn, who portrays one of the antagonists in the picture, a Skrull named Talos. Mendelsohn brings a lot of personality to the role and the performance is a memorable. Not so memorable is Jude Law, who plays Carol’s superior. Law just doesn’t have much charisma in the role, unfortunately.

Because of the high production budget thanks to Marvel Studios’ success, “Captain Marvel” looks really good. There’s an especially good sequence when Carol masters her powers and it’s great visual eye-candy.

The less than stellar first act of “Captain Marvel” and the rushed handling of her finding out about her past in a scene during the second act  means the film doesn’t reach the levels of some of the other great titles from the studio. Plus, there are one too many jokes about the 90s and the final battle leaves a viewer wanting more than what’s there. However, it’s still a good movie with a lot to offer. 3.9 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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