A decade or so from now, I wonder what people will remember from Captain Marvel. It’s weird that what’s I’m thinking about as I’m writing up this review but there’s a good reason why it’s on my mind. Because, right now as the film is about to be shown worldwide for the first time, there’s a big brouhaha because one of the stars said something that’s agitated a lot of people. If you’re reading this from the future, I hope you have your flying cars by now and go look up the entire controversy because there’s no way I’m detailing all of it here. Besides, I’m betting your Internet speeds are like nanoseconds by now… Or maybe we’ve all been taken over by aliens or something.
Anyway, right now, it’s very difficult to write up a review on Captain Marvel because anything you say, positive or negative, will be construed in some way that’s going to affect the reader’s perception regarding my biases. I’m honestly going to try to give my own opinion regarding Captain Marvel on the same day I saw it here and try to leave my personal biases out of it. I’m going to try to write up a critique on the movie and just the movie.
In a nutshell: It’s okay. As I’m going through the movie in my head, I’m currently saying that Captain Marvel is just fine. It’s nothing that really had me cheering in my seat nor did it make me question why I spent good money watching it. It’s neither the strongest nor the weakest film in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s… okay.
Of course, I have my reasons for saying this and, if you’re curious, please read on without worrying that I’ll give important details about the film as this is a SPOILER FREE review.
Actually, making this a SPOILER FREE review does make it rather difficult to write up a synopsis of the film. But, in broad strokes, Captain Marvel is all about Vers, a Kree warrior with amnesia. She finds out that the Kree’s longtime enemies, The Skrulls, are heading to Earth to locate a scientist. She heads to Earth and meets up with Nick Fury, an agent of SHIELD, and the two try to prevent the Skrull invading force from getting their objective.
There’s actually a lot more Captain Marvel’s story than just that but, as this is SPOILER FREE, that’s all I can say about the plot. But that’s also one of the film’s problems: there’s a lot happening at the same time and it feels like it bounces from plot point to plot point in rapid succession. You have Captain Marvel’s lost memories of her old life as Carol Danvers. There’s also her buddy cop routine with Nick Fury as well as the entire Skrull macguffin hunt. Things do get streamlined by the last act as some questions are answered but, until that point, the pace just felt weird.
The action scenes were pretty good but I’ve definitely seen much better. When compared to other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel’s fights just didn’t get my adrenaline pumping. A lot of it has to do with what’s happening to the hero or, rather, how much trouble the hero is in. In general, the only time I felt like the odds were stacked against Captain Marvel was during the first battle as she was handicapped. But even then, you see her not taking the fight all that seriously so it’s never like she feels she can’t handle it.
I can’t really blame Brie Larson, the actress who played Captain Marvel, for this as this was probably the tone and direction she was given. However, while we’re on the subject, I do have to address Brie Larson’s performance. I hate to say it but I just wasn’t into it. It’s not that she’s a bad actress. I mean, I loved her as Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and she did win an Academy Award for Best Actress for Room. Unfortunately, her acting here just didn’t click for me. It just generally lacks an emotional punch. Even some big moments, as when she slowly starts to recall her old life as Carol Danvers, which should be monumental, Brie Larson gives a startlingly somber and subdued performance.
On the other side of the coin, we have Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Nick Fury. Once again, Samuel L. Jackson is a pure delight as Nick Fury. There’s just something in the way he delivers the lines that just fit with the character oh so perfectly. He isn’t quite the hard-nosed leader of SHIELD here as it is set in the past but you can tell that he’s still hard as nails… who is also a cat person.
Another cast member that deserves mention is Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, the leader of the Skrulls occupying Earth. It’s really strange because you would think that he’d be some terrifying monster but he’s actually the opposite. He comes off as a rather likable and even quite goofy character. It really shouldn’t work in the least but, somehow, Ben Mendelsohn manages to pull it off! I actually walked out of the theater really liking Talos!
I guess it really helped both Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn’s performances that the special effects and makeup in Captain Marvel are top-notch. As this is set in the ’90s, a good two decades before the first Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nick Fury is a much younger agent of SHIELD and they managed to de-age Samuel L. Jackson here really well. It’s not like they hadn’t done this kind of thing before but never to the extent of doing it for a supporting character! Honestly, I couldn’t really tell how they did it. I can’t tell you if they just used a honking amount of makeup, digitally manipulated his face via computer trickery or a combination of both. It just looks so seamless and I forgot that it’s actually a 70-year old Samuel L. Jackson playing a 30-something Nick Fury on screen.
The Skrull makeup and effects are also amazing. As the Skrulls have the innate ability to shapeshift into anyone they see, the special effects guys had their work cut out to make the transition from green-looking Skrull monster into human form more than a few times. But it does come off as incredibly convincing each and every time. Of course, there are also more than a few special effect lightshows during the battle scenes and they do look real as well. There are a few scenes that do fall in the uncanny valley, like some shots with Captain Marvel wearing her helmet and some shots of Goose the Cat. It’s not bad but they stick out like a bunch of sore thumbs.
I guess the most important questions is if Captain Marvel is necessary to watch to fully understand the film that everyone’s actually anticipating, Avengers: Endgame. I honestly don’t think so. In my opinion, Captain Marvel is your typical superhero origin story and doesn’t really figure into the Marvel Cinematic Universe all that well. It feels like a filler film before we get to the one we really want to see. Sure, Captain Marvel may play a huge role in Avengers: Endgame but we won’t find out until that movie’s released in the end of April.
Ultimately, would I recommend you go see Captain Marvel? I think you can go see it and you’ll have a fine time with it. It’s good but definitely feels underwhelming as the hero this time around isn’t all that great but seeing a young Nick Fury is pretty great. Is it a must watch? Not really. Personally, it’s probably somewhere in my bottom five of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. But you do have to realize that I like practically all of the films Marvel has released and even the worst film they’ve made is still watchable. I say go wait for it until it’s available to rent or stream… which you probably can since you’re reading this from the distant future, right? Say hello to our insect overlords for me, will you?
Have you seen Captain Marvel? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!