Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Rune Temte, McKenna Grace, Clark Gregg, Jude Law
Runtime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: The Walt Disney Company
Official Website: www.marvel.com/captainmarvel
Opening Day: 7 March 2019
Synopsis: Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universes most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.
This reviewer almost feels guilty for regarding the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for being a lead in to the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame. If you haven’t already heard, an Infinity War happened and that culminated in Thanos gaining all six infinity stones, snapping his fingers, and eliminating half of the universe.
This movie is obviously more than that.
Just like how Black Panther (2018) made an unprecedented cultural impact by celebrating black culture, this blockbuster is supposed to be a groundbreaker – it is Marvel’s first superhero flick to be driven by a female protagonist. We’d like to think Elektra (2005) didn’t count.
The titular Captain Marvel is part of a galactic military team that keeps out invaders and protects the Kree race. When a bunch of alien (but of course) baddies escape to Earth, she gives chase and is introduced to the cool things we had during the 1990s (video rental stores, retro Nirvana and Garbage songs, as well as computers that took forever to load a CD). A familiar agent named Nick Fury from a particular enforcement entity known as S.H.I.E.D. enters the picture and they form an unlikely bond.
Yup, this is an origin story like Iron Man (2008), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Kudos to directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) for making an effort to tweak the formulaic approach. When the 124 minute movie starts, we already see Captain Marvel. The story then creatively reveals the character’s true identity, before heading towards the climatic showdown between good and bad.
Other than that, this is pretty much what you’d expect from a superhero movie. The good guys are fighting for a cause. The bad guys have a reason for antangonising others. The world will face dire consequences if the good guys don’t put a stop to the bad guys evil plans. And yes, there are action sequences and sky battle scenes which somewhat feel like they are from the Star Wars universe (ahem, Disney does own both franchises).
Not that we are complaining though, because it is easy to watch Brie Larson (she caught our attention after winning a Best Actress Oscar for portraying a young mother held in captivity in Room) play a superhero. She exudes the girl power that the movie wants to shout about, and young female viewers should leave the theatre feeling empowered by Captain Marvel. She also has chemistry with Samuel L Jackson (the two were co stars in Kong: Skull Island), and they actually manage to pull off corny lines.
After Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and Ready Player One (2018), Ben Mendelsohn again shows us what a fine actor he is. Wearing prosthetics, the Australian actor plays the head of the alien race and the character is surprisingly the emotional punch of the movie. Without giving away too much, Annette Bening (Life Itself) and Jude Law (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) are great fun to watch as always, and Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) has a bit role to kick some butt. Other familiar actors like Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace and Clark Gregg reprise characters (Korath, Ronan and Agent Phil Coulson) in the MCU.
Essentially, this movie provides answers to the missing pieces of the larger jigsaw puzzle that the MCU has meticulously developed. Why does Nick Fury wear an eye patch? Why wasn’t Captain Marvel around during the Infinity War? What are the origins of the Tesseract? Oh, and do stay around for two credits scenes before getting hyped up for the final entry of the MCU’s Phase Three.
(The superhero movie formula still works here, and it is boosted by strong performances from a capable cast)
Review by John Li