"Captain Marvel" Review

Updated on May 20, 2019
Logan Daniel Williamson profile image

Part-time Film Critic | Graduate Student at Columbia University

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I supported the film concept of 'Captain Marvel' since Nick Fury paged her character at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. I wanted this to be the revelation that Black Panther was for the black community last year. A female superhero was long overdue by our trusted friends at Marvel, and I have been lobbying for this film to get made for years. Unfortunately, the movie itself did not fare well with me as a viewer.

Captain Marvel ignited a firestorm of responses on Twitter both for and against, and I don't want to put anyone down for not liking it. But... I do not think it was a good movie. I'll be honest and say that my expectations were relatively low after viewing the trailer and skeptically thinking it would become nothing more than a stepping stone movie to Avengers: Endgame. However, my hopes were high, but this movie just did not deliver on hardly any level for me.

Brie Larson did not exhibit a peak performance here, I am sad to say. I really like her. Her performance in Room was exceptional, but here she is less than average. I don't know if it just isn't the right role for her, but she just feels out of place and can't seem to strike the right tone or decide on an approach that she wants to take with Captain Marvel. It's not schizophrenic though, like Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. It is more like she is an empty shell with no identifiable personality.

It sucks because I wanted Larson to slay in this role. But, she often appeared lifeless, and her demeanor was brash and cocky. For young girls watching this who need a superheroine to relate to, Captain Marvel was not fleshed out enough to be a nuanced, three-dimensional character with great things for them to pick up on.

I don't want to point the finger too much at Larson though, because she was not the only actor here who failed to bring some character depth to the table. I found that everyone in this throwaway Marvel film was flat and uninspired. I don't know if it is a knock on the acting, the writing or both, but I did not care for any of the extras or minor characters that were shoehorned into this film for narrative development. I even had trouble caring for Captain Marvel's closest friends and cohorts.

Furthermore, the film was, for non-comic book fans, often quite confusing. For a movie that builds on so much source material, there needs to be a little more exposition and hand-holding. I should not have to consult the books, a search engine or my geeky friend to square some of the movie's main plot points, sequences and character beats with my viewing experience after the credits have already rolled.

For example, (and this could be due to the fact I dozed off halfway through) I could not tell who the bad guys or the good guys were. I did not understand why people were fighting or what their motivations were, and the movie failed to make this clear. It was an addled mess of a narrative, and I think the movie would've benefitted from actually spelling out in layman terms what was happening and who was on which side.

Besides that, it was just a chore to sit through (arguably its greatest sin), because there are so many languid-paced scenes and lulls in the film. I'm not generally a fan of spectacle in Marvel movies, but I can usually count on them to be relatively exciting. Here, I found the big action set pieces lackluster, not well-choreographed, and often with poorly digitized CGI backdrops.

On the larger scale, the film lacked a consistent aesthetic, mood or rhythm. It was a nostalgia film, a buddy-cop movie and a fish-out-of-water story all packaged together. (Refer back to my earlier point about it being a stepping stone movie.) Captain Marvel felt hurriedly stitched together to set the stage for the final film. Don't give us the promise of a groundbreaking female-led Marvel film and make it an ill-conceived segue into your next movie.

I did have some positive things that I liked about the film, namely the de-aging effects on Sam Jackson, the 3/3 Bechdel test rating, Goose the cat, and the old lady Skrull on the express train. Certainly, these were the highlights of the film, but unfortunately they were also some of the only good things that stand out.

There is one other minor grievance that I would be remiss not to mention. At the end of the film, there is something in the saga that gets over-explained. It reminded me of the infamous moment in Solo: A Star Wars Story when Han Solo is christened with his name merely because he is alone. It is schlocky, shows an irreverent disregard for the character, and ultimately is a middle finger to fans.

Rating: 2/10

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    © 2019 Logan Daniel Williamson

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