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CAPTAIN MARVEL gets 7.5 /10 Champagne supernova


Directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening

7.5/10

A dedicated soldier of the Kree, Vers (Brie Larson) has been training to fight their traditional enemy, the insidious shape-changing Skrull, all her life. At least she think she has; a traumatic injury has robbed her of all but the last six years of her life. However when her mission goes wrong, stranding her on a backwater planet with a team of Skrull pursuing her (led by an often heavily make-upped Ben Mendelsohn), she gains the aid of one of the local inhabitants to complete her mission. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) may not only be able to help Vers understand Earth, but also help her unlock her strange memories of a woman called Carol Danvers.

It’s been a while since a Marvel Cinematic Universe film has been forced to establish a world (and a character) as an introduction for the audience, the last probably being Doctor Strange (due to Black Panther being able to draw on the ground work from Captain America: Civil War). As such, the first act of Captain Marvel feels stilted, and it takes some time for the film to work through its set up and establish the mythology of the Kree-Skrull war and Vers/ Danvers. It’s a fair bit of world building to accomplish, but once the film hits Earth it ramps quickly up to speed, with the introduction of Fury and a host of 90s references to add to the mix. From here Captain Marvel moves from strength to strength, not merely allowing for Larson to stretch the character beyond the stuffy confines of the tight knit military group she is initially bound by, but to allow Larson and Jackson to bounce off each other with some of the best buddy cop chemistry in the MCU.

Captain Marvel delivers what you would expect from a tent pole Marvel film: a special effects driven action extravaganza, with a tinge of comedy about it to lighten the mood. However it also brings us a strong female character, allowing an exploration of themes of female empowerment, and gender equality in a testosterone powered universe that has often sidelined women to support roles (no mater how the women of Wakanda or S.H.I.E.L.D shine). The result is a script that has a few unexpected twists, some nice (albeit surface) examination of social themes, but doesn’t deviate far from expectations of a superhero film. Despite the rampant howls from some segments of the internet, this is again a case of evolution rather than revolution.

However it’s the actors who really allow Captain Marvel to shine. Larson plays the consummate soldier, determined, tactical, stoic, and more than a little brash, yet with an underlying sense of sly humour. She’s believable as the girl that has constantly been knocked down, and the woman that consistently rises to her feet again determined to see things through. Yet it is also that slight differentiation between the military professional and the personal friend that Larson brings to the role, that fleshes out Danvers. Jackson, is back at the plate for his ninth outing as Fury (more if you count Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), and by now has the character down pat. However, here he manages to bring a freshness to the younger incarnation, and a less grim perspective than we see in the later version. Then there is Ben Mendelsohn, and although it is jarring to hear an alien with an Aussie accent, he manages to extend his villainous repertoire and bring something new to the role. Finally there is Goose. Without giving away too much, anyone that’s seen any of the marketing would understand how a marmalade tabby can steal the show, and audiences certainly won’t be disappointed.

A strong addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel both introduces us to a powerful character in the MCU, and sets up more options for Avengers: Endgame. Now to see what follows.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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