FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Captain Marvel (2019)
Welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is the superhero blockbuster Captain Marvel…
Set in the 1990s, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.
Kendall Richardson reviewing (2019):
To say we have been waiting for this film for a long time would be an understatement. After twenty films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we finally have Marvel’s first female-led superhero film. Captain Marvel enters the MCU in superb fashion with this expertly executed origin story. Whilst certain parts of Captain Marvel are by the numbers, because nearly all of these films have to follow a particular formula, I am happy to report that there are certain twists to the origin format that make this movie stand out as one of Marvel Studios’s best origin stories. Our heroine begins the film already in possession of her incredible powers, but with no knowledge of how she got them.
Brie Larson portrays the titular Carol Danvers, or Vers, with ease and such strength behind her. The Academy Award-winning actress was a perfect casting choice, as all of the casting across the MCU is. She imbues Carol with such a commanding presence, a wicked sense of humour, and a wonderful spirit that really surprises you once you learn that this is Larson’s first time in a role like this. She is such a natural and an absolute pleasure to watch on screen, regardless of what film she’s in or what character she is playing. I am very much looking forward to seeing her share the screen with the Avengers in the upcoming Endgame, particularly because I feel her and Steve Rogers will get along quite well. Carol is very much a solider in the same way that Steve is, wanting to do anything it takes to fight the good fight, but also possesses the resilience to change allegiances when she knows the fight is wrong.
This movie gives more background into the previously introduced alien race known as The Kree. We get to see their home world of Hala and meet the leader of their race, an AI known only as the Supreme Intelligence, who communicates with her people by taking the form of the person they most admire. In Carol’s case, however, she does not remember who the person she sees actually is. A big part of the driving force of the film is Carol trying to remember who she is and who this woman, played by Annette Bening, was to her in the life she once led. We also get introduced to the Skrulls, an alien race of shapeshifters the Kree are at war with. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn portrays their general, Talos, and was allowed to keep his native accent for the part. For die-hard fans of the MCU, seeing the Skrulls on screen for the first time is going to be a big highlight, especially considering they will most likely play a huge role in the upcoming Phase Four.
A major highlight of the film though has to be its visual effects. Not only do we have the standard action scenes on Earth and in space filled with gorgeous CGI, we have probably the most impressive de-aging effects work ever done in a film. I’m of course talking about seeing a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and a young Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) here in their early S.H.I.E.L.D. days. Both actors look absolutely outstanding thanks to the convincing effects work. Whilst we see early shades of the future man Coulson will become, this version of Nick Fury is near unrecognisable compared to his modern day counterpart. And I’m not referring to the fact that he has both of his eyes. Younger Fury carries with him a lot more heart and soul, and is a lot less jaded or hardened due to having not lived through his tumultuous future yet. It is a real high point of the film watching the way Jackson and Larson bounce off each other; they have an excellent on screen chemistry that is just a joy to see.
Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg is another interesting character and, without spoiling too much, I really appreciated what they did with him and his relationship with Carol as her mentor. But my favourite character of the whole film, and yes I’m jumping on the bandwagon here, is Goose the Cat. Every single scene with Goose in it belongs to her. And the reveal of just who this cat really is will leave your jaw dropped. I still cannot believe what I saw; seeing the reaction of the characters in the film and then listening to those from the audience in the cinema, was just beyond hilarious. Speaking of hilarious, they really had a lot of fun with the 1990s setting. The music was on point; one particular fight scene with No Doubt’s Just a Girl playing really tickled my fancy and the showcasing of the ’90s technology was exactly what it needed to be—absolutely hysterical.
Co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck join the ranks of esteemed MCU filmmakers that handle a film of this caliber with such style and wonderful storytelling that cements Captain Marvel’s place among the best films of the MCU. And to finally see a woman take down the bad guys in such a powerful way—seriously, you guys, Thanos should be shaking in his gauntlet—is so incredibly inspiring. The next generation of women have got a marvelous role model on their hands. 4½ / 5
Wayne Stellini reviewing (2020):
The twenty-first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) elects to introduce a new hero into the mix. At the same time, Marvel Studios has given their first female-led entry in their extensive franchise not to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow (who has already appeared in seven films) but to the mysterious Captain Marvel.
Any head-scratching that may come from this creative choice is quickly forgotten as Brie Larson embodies our titular hero to perfection. As she wrestles with recalling her past and fending off the bad guys, Larson demonstrates the best qualities in any protagonist: Captain Marvel is strong, vulnerable, charming, and always accessible.
Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s vision (they also wrote the screenplay with Geneva Robertson-Dworet) is cohesive and proves to not only be one of the better paced MCU films but also one of the most entertaining. And despite some questionable choices from cinematographer Ben Davis (one or two action sequences are lit too dark), Captain Marvel is an incredibly good looking picture that has benefited from Elliot Graham and Debbie Berman’s editing skills.
Because the film is set in the 1990s, it not only showcases a terrific score, but returning actors Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg (as Nick Fury and Phil Coulson respectively) have been digitally de-aged by twenty-five years. Admittedly, Gregg could have been given a little more tender love and care, but there’s no denying how great Jackson looks. As well as performing a character he is more than competent and comfortable with, his chemistry with Larson is one of the film’s strongest points. They are a big part of Captain Marvel’s fun as much as they are a part of its sense of adventure, though showing why Fury (now) wears an eye patch is a nod that we did not need and probably even diehard fans did not want. There’s an abundance of solid supporting players too, particularly from Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, and the always reliable and grossly underrated Ben Mendelsohn. However, a character by the name of Goose (portrayed by Reggie, Archie, Rizzo, and Gonzo) quite easily steals the show.
Overall, Captain Marvel may not break the genre mould, but it is a consistently entertaining and engaging superhero movie. I can’t wait to see Larson suit up again. 4 / 5
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law, Stan Lee [cameo].
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck | Writers: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (story by Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet based on Captain Marvel by Stan Lee and Gene Colan; Carol Danvers by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan | Producer: Kevin Feige | Music: Pinar Toprak | Cinematographer: Ben Davis | Editors: Elliot Graham, Debbie Berman
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Kendall Richardson’s review was first published on Thursday, 14 March 2019. It was updated to include Wayne Stellini’s review and the film’s online viewing availability on Sunday, 3 May 2020.
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