Marvel The Marvels

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

The Marvels
dir Nia DaCosta
prd Kevin Feige
scr Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik
with Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Samuel L Jackson, Zawe Ashton, Seo-Jun Park, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Gary Lewis, Lashana Lynch, Tessa Thompson, Hailee Steinfeld, Kelsey Grammer
release US/UK 10.Nov.23
23/UK Marvel 1h45

jackson ashton lynch
Captain Marvels (2019) Endgame (2019)

Is it streaming?

larson, parris and vellani
Weaving together strands from various Marvel movies and series, this feels designed specifically for fans. But anyone will enjoy the nutty vibe that drives the chaotic plot, which is so formulaic that it requires no thought at all. In the absence of coherence, we're entertained by character comedy and the remarkable randomness of the whole project, including a musical-comedy interlude and a hyperbolic expansion of Captain Marvel's best gag.
As Dar-Benn (Ashton) begins a diabolical plan to revive her home planet, she inadvertently cross-wires the light-wielding powers of Carol aka Captain Marvel (Larson), Kamala aka Ms Marvel (Vellani) and Monica (Parris), who still needs a nickname. While swapping places, they need to work with Nick (Jackson) to stop Dar-Benn's progress. This involves visiting Carol's special friend Prince Yan (Park) on a planet where people communicate through song. Kamala's parents (Shroff and Kapur) and brother (Shaikh) find themselves in space as well. And the tension ramps up when Dar-Benn turns up to steal Earth's sun.
None of this is played remotely seriously, which feels odd since the plotting is so packed with the usual tiresomely grim Marvel menace. And everything is augmented by unnecessarily overwrought digital effects that leave most scenes looking cartoonish. Even the goofy visual gags feel like they're blatantly begging fans to burst into applause. Fortunately, running jokes about naming objects and heroes add a refreshingly light tone. And there are more interesting things going on under the fluffy surface, including Carol's struggle with isolation and omnipotence.

Strangely for a female-made film, there's no effort to add weight to either these powerful women or their inter-relationships. Larson and Parris are solid in roles that remain breezy, bypassing any need for real acting. So Vellani steals the show as the exuberant 16-year-old who is dazzled to be working alongside her idol. Kamala and her family provide a continuous stream of amusing warmth that pulls the audience into the story while everyone else rushes around them scowling, smirking or punching witty one-liners.

Frankly, it's increasingly impossible to care about the messiness of Marvel's extended universe, with its over-animated appearance and spiralling blur of convoluted mythologies, objects and peoples. Much of this movie is essentially attempting to pull various strings together, presumably in an effort to move everything inexorably forward. Perhaps producer Kevin Feige has forgotten that these stories only work when characters and relationships are at the centre. At least this movie provides moments of mindless joy along the way.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 8.Nov.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall