"Captain Marvel" (2019) - Rated PG-13 / Runtime: 128 minutes
Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Written by five people
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Clark Gregg
Review by JJ Mortimer
*Read below the final verdict for my diatribe on the “BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO” scene*
Captain Marvel is the 47th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, released at a time when superhero films have gone beyond being tired, trite, boring, and stale, and becoming something that is more a necessity to see rather than a passion to see in order to keep up with the convoluted character and story connections leading to the next Avengers film.
Regardless of my slightly sarcastic derision toward the extended shelf life of the “comic book movie,” Captain Marvel was at least better than I expected, a statement which in fact isn’t all that great considering how many people either hated it for being a supposed “feminist platform” in film and media, and those who lauded it for the same reason. I purposely waited two weeks after its initial release to see it for myself, with the same eyes I watched DCs Wonder Woman (a film that was heralded as many of the same things as this film, but on a larger scale) - a film I rather enjoyed and found many of its labels as a “feminist movement” to be misguided. Wonder Woman was nothing more than a comic book movie starring a female character, and Captain Marvel is not anything greater.
In the grand scheme of comic book films (and Marvel-labeled movies, in general), Captain Marvel falls somewhere in the lower/middle of quality - nowhere near the humorous and character-driven powerhouse that is Iron Man, nor the enjoyable fish-out-of-water charm that were the majority of the Thor films. The film was neither as witty in its writing and editing as the Ant-Man films, and the lead character (played by a passable, but bland and somewhat forced in her motions Brie Larson) had not the thematic purpose or pomp-and-circumstance as a Steve Rogers/Captain America. Captain Marvel was enjoyable, paced well, colorful in its typical Marvel background charms, and lifted by a spirited performance by Samuel L. Jackson as a young agent Nicholas J. Fury. Oh, and an orange tabby named “Goose.”
But what the film tries its best to do well - place itself meaningfully amidst the Avengers-based characters and films - it fails in interpreting a self-contained story with any importance outside of just being an origin story as a stepping stone for another character amidst a dozen others.
The days have finally come where boredom is found in CGI space battles, mystical laser blasts, characters flying with fire trails coming out of their asses, and fist fights with aliens, which is ironic considering we should be “marvelling” at these cinematic wonders. Marvel films (Captain Marvel, in specific), while colorful, enjoyable and light-spirited, are slowly starting to wear thin on their charms. While greatness is still found in films like last year’s far-greater, and more surprising-than-expected Avengers: Infinity War, the more run-of-the-mill trope-filled origin-story that is Captain Marvel can’t quite take off on its own two feet. The film is hampered by the fact that it is strongly connected to the pre-established Avengers canon, and therefore doesn’t quite lift off as a stand-alone film to be enjoyed by those who may not be indoctrinated into the universe.
What I will say is this - for perhaps a young girl looking for a movie to enjoy involving a superhero character she may be inspired by or driven by imaginatively, she could do a lot worse. For fans of the MCU, there will be some enjoyment with Sam Jackson’s scene chewing, the little plot twists involving the Kree/Skrull War, and bits of the 90s-era setting (although the usage of some of the songs were a bit heavy-handed). There’s really nothing to be said any more about the visual effects unless they are obviously horrible (which they are not), and the musical score is background noise at best with no memorable theme - a fact that has dogged me for nearly two decades among big Hollywood films.
While the simple charms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are present and little nods to the 90s era and returning characters are there, Captain Marvel is nothing special. Brie Larson’s performance is often dull with little moments of personality feeling forced in the sake of being “funny” like a Tony Stark or Dr. Strange. The story itself is hardly noteworthy for the fact that there is no real over-arcing story, and instead the film uses itself as a platform to shoe-horn in a new seemingly deus-ex-machina character to fix what may be potential story plot-holes in the Avengers universe - a fact I hope I am very, very wrong about.
I could recommend this film as a necessity when preparing for Avengers: Endgame, but as a standalone film outside the context of the MCU, the film gets a:
MINOR RECOMMENDATION at best
Now, about that BLOCKBUSTER SCENE.
So, after Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel crash-lands on Earth, falling directly through the ceiling of a Blockbuster Video, there were many errors I noticed IMMEDIATELY (as a former Blockbuster employee of nine years AND as an often detail-oriented film nerd and historian). I’m sure I will pick up more upon future viewings of the scene:
1) There was no security alarm, which was bullshit considering the motion detectors the company commonly utilized during that time.
2) Films in the “action section” of the store were not alphabetized or ordered in any known alpha-numerical system, with cover boxes neatly still placed in front of their VHS counterparts despite a small wind having the capability of knocking them off the shelf.
3) A poster for the film Babe was seen on the wall of the store, despite the film taking place seemingly in the summer of 1995. Babe was not released on home video until March 1996.
4) A standee for True Lies was present in the store, in a scene where Carol blasts the likeness of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face from his shoulders and leaving only Jamie Lee Curtis to be seen. The problem is, True Lies was released on VHS January 10, 1995. Standees for newly-released films often didn’t last on store floors for much longer than a month. So, say the film took place in March of 1995, that would make my point above about Babe even more relevant, because Babe wasn’t released in theaters until August 4th, 1995.
Therefore, Captain Marvel is fucking bullshit.