Review: Captain Marvel (Kalyn Corrigan's take)

Captain Marvel (Kalyn Corrigan's take)
8 10

Read JimmyO's take HERE!

PLOT: Vers, better known as Captain Marvel, becomes one of the universe's most pivotal heroes when an intergalactic war breaks out between two alien races on planet Earth in the year 1995.

REVIEW: It's taken twenty-one films and a little over ten years, but finally, Marvel has their very first standalone female superhero movie. Starring Brie Larson as the caped crusader -- or rather, as one baffled security guard earthling refers to her, a woman "dressed for laser tag" -- this comic book adaptation where women shine at the forefront while the men fill in supporting role gaps is an entry that feels long overdue. It's just a shame that Captain Marvel's origin story can't be quite as strong as Carol Danvers herself.

Our hero's story begins on the futuristic planet Hala, a.k.a. the Capital of Kree, a place where noble warrior heroes like Vers (Larson) spend their days training with mentors like Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) in preparation for battle against terrorists known as Skrull, further perpetuating an intergalactic war between alien races. As per their motto, one Skrull somewhere is a treat to Kree everywhere. Vers is arguably the fiercest and bravest of all Kree warriors, which is why when their latest mission calls for a trip to Torfa to locate and extract a Kree spy from the shadows, the hot-headed soldier charges in all John Wayne and lands herself straight in the middle of an ambush. After a brief kidnapping and escape scenario, Vers crash-lands into a 1995 Blockbuster on Planet C-53, better known as Earth to us, and a "real shithole" to Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan), one of Veer's former Kree co-conspirators. Trapped on foreign soil and tracking her shapeshifting Skrull target, Vers finds more than she bargained for in this land, including the recollection of some lost memories from her fuzzy past, all leading to a conclusion this soldier never saw coming.

While hunting down her Skrull foe, Vers is constantly plagued with strange flashbacks which allude to a former life here on Earth. She's supposed to be an alien Kree from the planet Hala, so why does she keep remembering herself as a fighter pilot from the Air Force, soaring alongside a playful Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch)? She's never met a Dr. Wendy Lawson, so why does she imagine her presence during her frequent visit to her home planet's Supreme Intelligence? As Vers' amnesia gives way to slow remembrance, it seems that her recognition of a former existence not only fills in the gaps for the viewer, but unfortunately also acts as a substitute for a character arc for Carol Danvers. Brie Larson does what she can with the very little material she has to work with, using subtle smirks and strong stances to create an existence that's otherwise slightly lacking, but because she spends most of the movie trying to remember who she is, she spends most of her time onscreen looking lost and confused, making her role one that's inspiring, but difficult to connect with, severing a much needed bond between her and the audience. Although the third act is strong, it's one that feels a little bloated, making it quite apparent that this screenplay has more than a few writers (Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve) attached to its jumbled narrative.

Still, this movie is nothing if not entertaining, and although the soundtrack at times feels like a greatest hits of the '90s tracklist, it's still quite a fun ride through the land of nostalgia. Nirvana, TLC, Lita Ford -- what more could a kid of the grunge era want from a movie where Larson shines in a Nine Inch Nails shirt? (Although, admittedly, Samuel L. Jackson's Fury is a little off when he refers to her NIN get-up as "grunge".) Also, on a very heavy sidenote, any and all scenes where Larson wails on a pile of men to the booming track of "Just a Girl" by No Doubt are much appreciated, and should happen much more often.

Two more things that should also happen with much more feverish frequency: Annette Bening toting big guns, and FRENCH CONNECTION car chases wherein Brie Larson hunts down green-faced baddies.

Larson and Jackson's chemistry is one of the greatest selling points of this otherworldly action flick, and it's shocking how adorable the scene-stealing tabby cat turns out to be -- not only because it allows viewers to see the softer side of Nick Fury, who lovingly toys with his new favorite pal, but also because the feline named "Goose" is a great nod to the obviously influential TOP GUN vibes that the movie rides on. However, the greatest companionship this movie shows is that between Larson's Danvers and her former co-pilot Rambeau (aptly named, don't you think?). Together, their friendship turns out to be one of the strongest aspects of the film, which arguably should have come sooner in the runtime, but still serves as a much-needed component of Danvers' storyline as a hero, providing her with some humanity that the scirpt somewhat fails to give to their super girl.

So, here's the deal -- a good chunk of this flick is merely a re-hashing of the Marel movies that have come before. Superhero seeks to complete mission laid out by superiors, supehero relies on mentors and the weapons they provide for powers, and then said superhero discoers that the true source of their strength actually lies within their own heart. By now, fans of the genre have pretty much gotten the comic book tropes down, and Marvel's well-oiled machine hands their audiences what they know and love on a silver platter. Have your cake and eat it too, you patient little viewers. Still, there's one big difference between this entry and all of the Marvel films that have come before -- this time, it's a woman donning the snazzy super suit, at the center of the story, 90 feet high, and girls who have been watching the same Marvel movies since 2008 finally get the chance to experience the same elation that boys have felt for the past decade when they go to the movies. In the end, that's all that really matters. Representation is important, and the fact is that these movies simply didn't exist when I was growing up. To be frank, they mostly don't even exist now -- films where a woman holds the most screentime, her male co-stars depend on her judgment to guide them, and the battles between pilots consist of two females -- one, who happens to be African American. 

CAPTAIN MARVEL is a movie I didn't expect to cry in, and yet, I left the theater wiping my eyes. Are there plot holes? Yes, of course there are. Is it the superhero movie that Brie Larson deserves? No, she's owed one better. Still, this is a momentous occasion, and one that little girls will remember for years to come, because for once, they will see themselves lighting up the big screen, they will see their emotions displayed as super powers, and they will witness the possibilities that their own strength can bring to fruition. It's a powerful movie, and one that gets a slight pass for not being quite as strong as its predecessors because it's although it may be a little baby step that's been a long time coming, it's still a step in the right direction.

Source: JoBlo.com



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