Marvel Captain Marvel

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Captain Marvel
dir Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
prd Kevin Feige
scr Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
with Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Akira Akbar, Mckenna Grace
release US/UK 8.Mar.19
19/US Marvel 2h04

jackson bening mendelsohn
See also:
Endgame (2019) The Marvels (2023)

law and larson
An introduction to a powerful Avenger and an origin story for the Avengers project itself, this film moves to its own rhythms. A witty, exhilarating throwback to the 1990s (both in setting and style), it's a carefully paced odyssey told through a woman's perspective. The lack of grunting machismo is refreshing, and fans will find treasure in every scene.
On the Kree homeworld, Vers (Larson) is foggy about her life before she began training with Yon-Rogg (Law) to be a warrior in the fight against the Skrull. Now she's having odd memories of a scientist (Bening) who turns out to be behind technology both the Kree and Skrull are desperate to get their hands on. Accidentally jettisoned to Earth, Vers teams up with Nick Fury (Jackson) to find the scientist, and with the help of Maria (Lynch) discovers her original identity as human test pilot Carol Danvers. So who are the real villains?
From the start, it's clear that Vers has fiery powers that she doesn't quite understand. So watching her discover her past and her present is fascinating, and the film's script lets the audience take this journey with her. This allows her to make proper connections with people along the way, which skilfully grounds the action sequences. So even when mindless digital mayhem threatens to swamp the movie, there's always a complex narrative point.

Larson brings layers of attitude to provide snappy humour, darker yearning and properly fearsome battle skills. She and Jackson (with 25 years digitally wiped away) are a terrific double act, bouncing amusingly off each other as they discover their roles in the bigger picture. The supporting cast circles colourfully around them, with standout roles for Bening (who doubles as the embodiment of Kree artificial intelligence), the terrific Lynch as a strong woman in her own right, and also Akbar as Maria's bright teen daughter.

Of course there are constant touches that place this film within the context of other Marvel movies, most notably Guardians of the Galaxy (Pace and Hounsou reprise their roles) and also Infinity War (wait for the mid-title sequence and post-credits sting). But this episode's unique selling point is the way Boden and Fleck adeptly balance character-based humour with intense action and larger mythology. This film isn't as flashy as other Avengers movies, but it has a striking depth that makes it more memorable. And then there's Goose the cat, who very nearly steals the entire show.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 4.Mar.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall