By Adam Brannon
Film Reviewer from Movie Metropolis for What’s On Hub
With a touching tribute to the amazing Stan Lee, it’s clear from the outset that Captain Marvel isn’t going to be your ordinary MCU instalment, or so Marvel Studios would have us believe. The 21stfilm, yes, I can’t quite believe it either, in the long-standing Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel is the first superhero film from the studio to focus primarily on a single female lead.
Astounding really that a franchise started by all intents and purposes way back in 2008 with Iron Manand has grossed billion after billion at the box-office hasn’t felt the need to offer a big tentpole movie to a female hero. But history aside, Captain Marvel has finally landed. Are we looking at one of Marvel’s greats?
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is an extra-terrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck in their first big-budget blockbuster, Captain Marvel shows, if you’ll pardon the pun, flecks of brilliance while battling a fairly average origins story for what could be described as Marvel’s most powerful hero.
Where it does shine throughout is in its casting. We’ll get to the titular hero shortly but Samuel L Jackson’s performance across the film is exceptional. Beautifully de-aged and without the off-putting uncanny valley treatment that we occasionally get with these types of visual effects, he’s a highlight of the film and the chemistry he shares with Larson is believable and enjoyable to watch.
Clearly not afraid of being typecast is Ben Mendelsohn who has played some tremendous villains over the course of his career. From Rogue One to Ready Player One, the Australian actor clearly feels right at home as Skrull leader, Talos. Though hidden behind layers of prosthetics for the majority of the movie, he comes across much better than poor Oscar Issac did in X-Men: Apocalypse. Unfortunately, the film does lack a menacing villain throughout however, but this isn’t down to Mendelsohn’s performance which is spot on.
Brie Larson is good, but her story arc is hampered by a bout of amnesia, used to progress the story. It’s a poor scripting decision by the film’s five writers but a necessary one to deal with all the Marvel lore and baggage that comes with creating the 21staddition to a very interlinked series. It’s a shame that this is the case as Larson shares wonderful chemistry with all her co-stars and is let down by her at-times clunky dialogue.
When it comes to the visual effects, we’ve got a story of two halves. This is a $152million movie and with that comes a set of expectations that just aren’t fulfilled consistently enough. Some of the CGI used is incredibly poor and the Kree’s home planet of Hala feels hollow – worlds away from Sakaar and Nova Prime from other Marvel outings. It could almost be compared to that of the Star Wars sequels, though perhaps that’s being a little too harsh.
The cinematography too is bland. Ben Davis is one of the finest cinematographers working in the industry and has put his name to films like Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, Kick-Ass and Avengers: Age of Ultron to name but a few. But here, he seems to lack that flair he’s so often known for and while the action is filmed with aplomb and there are some cracking set pieces, they feel a little ordinary and lacking in originality.
Thankfully Captain Marvel retains that classic Marvel sense of humour that we all know and love and there are some genuinely touching moments as the titular hero begins to remember who she is. It also feels very much of the era it’s set in and that’s great. 90s music and a real 90s feel emanate from the screen and it’s here that the film scores highly.
Overall, Captain Marvel is a competent but not outstanding origins story that lacks consistent visual effects, a truly compelling script and engaging cinematography. While it is difficult to warm to Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers at times, it is testament to her acting ability that she remains likeable throughout – it’s just a shame that Marvel hasn’t quite managed to pull it off completely this time around.
Our score: ★★★
Watch if you liked: Wonder Woman.
Captain Marvel is showing now at Odeon Luxe Cinema, Hull