Captain Marvel

Released:      2019
Director:        Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Distributor:   Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Cast:              Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Benning, Clark Gregg, Ben Mendelsohn, Lee Pace
Genre:           Superhero/Action
Rating:          12A
Review Rating: 4/5

Veers (Brie Larson) is a soldier of the Kree; a race of noble warrior-heroes, locked in a war against the insidious shape-changing Skrulls. Veers has some memory issues and a recurring nightmare. Her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law,) is trying to curb her hot-headed ways and help be the best possible version of herself.  Her impulse control issues lead to a communing with the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Benning,) the AI that runs the Kree society, who tells her that she needs to learn control, and is about to be sent on a mission.

The mission goes pretty much how you would expect, and Veers is captured by the Skrull, led by General Talos (Ben Mendelsohn,) who find some memories to go with her recurring nightmares, which point them towards planet C53, or Earth as its also known. Veers escapes and it becomes a race against the Skrull to find a scientist who has developed a lightspeed engine that could change the course of the war.

On crashing to Earth in an LA Blockbuster, Veers gets in touch with her mentor before being met by a digitally-youthed Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Agent “His first name is ‘Agent'” Coulson (Clark Gregg.)  Veers is discovered to be Carol Danvers, a hotshot test pilot who went missing six years ago, then she and Fury are thrown together and go about tracking down the missing scientist. Any more synopsis than this would probably lead to spoilers, so I will stop here.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I have, at this point, now seen it 3 times – in the initial surge of excitement upon release, with my young daughter and then in Imax 3D. I have enjoyed it each time with little or no diminishing of that enjoyment. I still wouldn’t bother with 3D though, I don’t think it’s quite ready yet.

Brie Larson carries the film without too much effort. She makes for a likeable and convincing Superhero, who appears to be having fun with the part, whilst treating it with just enough seriousness. Her chemistry with Samuel L Jackson is fun throughout the film. It is also great fun seeing super-spy Nick Fury cooing and fussing at a cat through large parts of the film, as is the side plot of what happened to earn him the eyepatch.

The Supporting cast is excellent, and Ben Mendelsohn makes for a great opponent, the laid-back Australian accent particularly suits the character, I thought. It was also nice to see returns from Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser and Clark Gregg, which links nicely to other MCU movies. Annette Benning also seems to be having fun with her dual role as the Supreme Intelligence and Mar-Vell.

The plot is pretty well balanced, and the pacing is good. I didn’t feel that the film dragged and it didn’t feel like more than 2 hours. The special effects are good, without being groundbreaking. To be fair to 3D, there were some bits that I saw in the 3D and went, “oh, that’s nice!” The action is well balanced, there is just enough action at the right time to allow the film to build to its climax and there are only one or possibly two early scenes which feel like they are explaining the plot or background to us.

The 1990’s setting is well realised, with a few little nods and jokes about the technology of the time, but again it is sufficiently restrained that it doesn’t feel too forced. The digital de-ageing of Jackson I found to be slightly jarring, and I found myself trying to remember any 90s films that I had seen to see if they got him right, but this soon passed. The 90’s clothes were nicely nostalgic for me and I thought it was cool to see a superhero rocking a NIN T-shirt.

The other star of this film, for me, was the soundtrack – full of 90’s gold, especially classics from the likes of Elastica and Garbage and nothing says the 1990s like a bit of Nirvana – but they were nicely restrained and didn’t overdo it. Possibly my favourite thing in the film was the use of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” which was completely on point.

Captain Marvel is a refreshing movie in many ways. It is great to see a movie of this scope and budget that is focused on and carried by a female lead. I felt that the film made no particular allowance for having a female lead, it didn’t emphasise it, it just got on with having one, in much the same way that Black Panther just got on with being Black Panther. It has been mentioned in other reviews that the lack of a love interest is refreshing for a blockbuster movie, and I totally agree. There was no need for it and it would have felt bolted on to the plot.

All in all, I really liked this film. I probably enjoyed it more than Black Panther, and whilst it’s not the best of the Marvel output, it’s up with the leading pack, I thought. The Stan Lee tribute at the start was moving. Oh, and there is a mid-credit and an end-credits scene.

My young daughter has a new favourite superhero, so I think this film can count itself a success.

Review by Lawrence Gillies