BRIE LARSON WILL LEAVE HEARTS IN YOUR EYES, IN THE MARVEL-OUS “CAPTAIN MARVEL”
Come this October expect a lot of young girls to be dressing up as “Captain Marvel”. I’m of the opposite sex and even I want to be her. You can thank star Academy Award winner Brie Larson (Best Actress for “Room”) and indie filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck for that, as “Captain Marvel” is Marvel-ous. I loved Brie Larson before her super powered role, and watching her in “Captain Marvel” I had hearts in my eyes during the entire 2 hour running time. She gives the men of “The Avengers” a run for their money. This is superb entertainment.
The film has been enduring a lot of toxicity from review bombing trolls who are eager to drive audiences away. Claiming she is too political, she can’t possibly be strong enough because she is a woman and that she is forcing diversity on moviegoers. Rotten Tomatoes has since, had to ban the internet trolls from its website who were hellbent on review bombing the movie before it even opened. But those haters who refuse to see the movie will fail to see, that it’s a film that works to introduce a powerful new being into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Captain Marvel” taps into our nostalgia culture especially for us who grew up or lived in the ’90s. It even sets up an exciting future of Marvel movies that is yet to come.
Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden were not the original choices to helm the film. Jennifer Kent (“The Babadook”) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (“The Darkest Minds”) were in the running to direct. Both Fleck and Boden are an interesting choice to add to the list of directors involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The two filmmakers come from an indie film background, directing films like “Half Nelson” with Ryan Gosling and the Zach Galifianakis charmer “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”. Thier focus on character and story creates an interesting approach and it’s an impressive shift of genre coming from such small budgeted films to something this vast and epic in scale. Fleck and Boden pulls off a satisfying introduction to the hero who is looking to be our “Avengers: Endgame” victory card against Thanos.
The directing duo starts “Captain Marvel” off with a dream and keeps the film deliberately hazy and confusing through the setup scenes to reflect the uncertainty of Larson’s Carol Danvers (known throughout the film and called by the name Vers). She has spent the last half-dozen years living on the planet Kree, being unable to remember her life before living on the planet, after she was rescued from an earlier crash by the military commander Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law).
Vers has been gifted with seemingly unlimited superpowers, starting with the ability to shoot high-energy fireballs from her hands. As the film goes on her powers increase to the level of catastrophically powerful. She finds she needs to reconcile her past and learn of her true purpose in life by connecting with a higher power known as the Supreme Intelligence, which takes on the form of Oscar nominee Annette Bening.
The Kree is at war with a race of shape-shifting aliens known as Skrulls, who will stop at nothing to, win that never ending intergalactic war. During a covert mission to rescue a Kree operative from the clutches of the Skrulls it sets off a chain of events that literally propel Vers to a 1995 version of California. Vers has never been on this insignificant, relatively un-advanced planet in her life, or has she?
Once she crashes down into the hard media outlet Blockbuster Video, she is completely puzzled to where she is. She wonders the store picking up the one VHS that catches her eye, one of the best films around the 1983 film “The Right Stuff”. Her Earth bound adventure, is set to a crackling good soundtrack laden with ’90s hits including Nirvana, No Doubt, Garbage, Hole and TLC. “Captain Marvel” is even filled with fun cultural references, from Radio Shack to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to “The Silence of the Lambs” to the technology of the times, like the dial-up computer that takes several minutes to load.
Within hours of her arrival, she garners the attention of one Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who at this point on the Marvel timeline isn’t sporting the eye patch and is a mid-level agent at S.H.I.E.L.D. who spends most of his time behind his desk and does some field work. The initially skeptical Fury quickly comes around to Vers’ side once he gets a glimpse of her powers, not to mention a good look at one of the shape-shifting Skrulls that has followed her to Earth, as they are hoping she’ll lead them to a special light-speed contraption that could change everything in the war with the Krees.
Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden create a non traditional origin story, as the heroine already has her powers at the start of the movie. It’s a different take on an origin story, as they explain her backstory like a mystery waiting to be revealed as we don’t find out how she got her powers until an hour an half into the film. It’s not only an origin story for Carol Danvers but also a few others including Nicolas Joesph Fury, who responds with “Not Joesph, not Joe, not Nicolas or Nick. Just Fury”. The origins of Phil Coulson, Korath the Pursuer, and Ronan the Accuser (“Guardians Of The Galaxy”) are also introduced.
Embracing the style of the era, “Captain Marvel” shifts into a buddy comedy that pairs Vers with Nick Fury. Both Brie Larson and Sam Jackson’s appearance in three films prior to this in “Farce of the Penguins” (2006), “Unicorn Store” (2017), and “Kong: Skull Island” (2017) have given them good practice as their chemistry in “Captain Marvel” is electrifying.
Sam Jackson is a constant source of humor, and his connection with a golden orange feline named Goose (for obvious reasons) makes me want a Fury & Goose teamup movie. They can be the new “Turner & Hooch”, aptly titled “Fury & Goose”. Brie Larson is allergic to cats, so her scenes involving Goose were filmed with a puppet or computer-generated VFX.
We’ve seen “de-aging” technology done before in previous Marvel films: Michael Douglas in “Ant-Man,” Kurt Russell in “Guardians Vol. 2” and Robert Downey Jr. in “Captain America: Civil War,” but the visual effects magic of de-aging reaches new levels here. The 70 year old Jackson and the 56 year old Clark Gregg, who plays Coulson, look 30 years younger. There was never a moment when I didn’t buy into these younger versions of Fury and Coulson. I can only hope that Martin Scorsese and Netflix can pull off this expert de-aging technology on Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in the upcoming “The Irishman”.
From what I researched online, the history of Marvel Comics had eight different characters taking the name of “Captain Marvel.” The movie features three of them. To prepare for her role as “Captain Marvel”, Brie Larson trained for nine months, learning judo, boxing, and wrestling. She also visited Nellis Air Force Base and met with active duty airmen. Emily Blunt (“Sicario”), Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”), Yvonne Strahovski (“Dexter”), Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission Impossible Fallout”) and UFC fighter Rhonda Rousey were rumored for the title role. You got to give a hand to Marvel and Producer Kevin Feige for finding such A-List actors who fit so perfectly into their superhero roles. We can now add and welcome Brie Larson into the Marvel family tree of great casting.
The supporting cast including heavy hitters Jude Law (originally Keanu Reeves was pursued for the role), Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou and Annette Bening follow in the footsteps of Michael Douglas, Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the gala of Marvel’s supporting cast.
To whom ever came up with the Stan Lee tribute should get a raise. It’s so simple but yet so moving and an excellent tribute to the legend himself. “Captain Marvel” features the second to the last of Stan Lee’s cameo scenes. The touch of having Stan “The Man” Lee rehearsing his lines from the script of Kevin Smith’s movie “Mallrats”, that was released in the same year as “Captain Marvel” takes place was a nice pop culture reference.
As “Captain Marvel” comes to its literal glowing conclusion, you almost feel sorry for the beatdown that Thanos has coming his way. “Captain Marvel” may be “just a girl” as the No Doubt song says, but she is not to be underestimated. Carol Danvers who is easily on the scale of Superman’s level of power is going to be the ultimate force against the might of Thanos. She not only has unbelievable strength and power but she has determination, leadership, and courage.
“Captain Marvel” has great humor, in a natural “Guardians Of The Galaxy” way, not forced like “Thor: Ragnarok” and it’s also one of the sweetest. For a film that is devoid of romance, there’s a lot of love, whether it’s a shared bond between two best friends, the beauty in seeing a family reunited or when Nick Fury turns into a soft hearted cat lover whenever he’s in the presence of the orange feline. “Captain Marvel” follows in the footsteps of “Iron Man”, “Doctor Strange”, “Black Panther” and “Avengers Infinity War” as one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Captain Marvel” threads together multiple storylines brilliantly and soars as an origin story that has heart, cheeky humor, wit, warmth, zingy dialogue, punchy kinetic action, colorful characters and a badass heroine. I loved everything about the movie, I didn’t dislike a single thing. The female powered adventure quickly finds its heart, its stride, it’s wonderful characters, visual effects, action and it’s super cool whiz-bang sense of humor.
GRADE: ★★★★★ (5 Out Of 5)