Captain Marvel movie poster
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Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel movie poster

Captain Marvel Movie Review

First, I’m not a female superhero-hating misogynist. Second, I’m not paid by DC. Third, I have an infant daughter and would have loved in a few years’ time to show her a movie about a strong-willed female superhero who kicks serious ass. But little in the new and shockingly bland Captain Marvel kicks any kind of ass.

I wanted Captain Marvel to be good. I expected it to be good. After all, Marvel rarely ever produces a movie that isn’t good.

But Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, neither of whom have any big-budget or action filmmaking experience, isn’t very good.

Brie Larson stars as the titular character, a human woman who doesn’t remember her past and who has become an elite fighter on an alien Seal Team Six crew, in part because she is able to shoot frikkin’ laser beams from her hands. Larson, probably not the first person you’d think of to be an action hero, is nonetheless an adequate choice—she’s a good actress with spunk.

Sadly, the writing in Captain Marvel is pretty atrocious. The story is as mediocre as they come, with “Vers” spending most of her time trying to figure out her past—a past that we all know based on the trailers and the repetitive flashbacks. It’s a mystery that isn’t mysterious, and one that gets slogged down in the middle with a lot of not-much-happening.

There’s an insidious alien race led by a lizard-looking dude with an Australian accent named Talos (Ben Mendelson)—the race looks like a rejected species from an early Star Trek episode, by the way (terrible makeup, terrible costumes). A newly young Samuel L. Jackson co-stars with Vers (the movie is set in the 1990s, the most inspired bit a crash into a Blockbuster Video store), doing his best to act like Nick Fury before he became serious.

The writing pulls down everyone in the cast. Captain Marvel herself is completely uninteresting—she’s like the cute woman at the bar you’d lose interest in after a minute—and Larson herself seems trapped by the writing, unable to elevate the material in any way or form. Larson, and in turn the movie, attempts to be funny but only rarely succeeds; most everything falls just a little flat.

Jackson is amusing as he presents a different side of Nick Fury, but he too seems hampered by the material—and if we know anything, Jackson is usually the best part of crappy movies.

Mendelson is fine, but his character seems out of place from the rest of the story. Jude Law is in the movie, too, but he’s completely forgettable.

The action is pretty generic, too, with the most notable sequences a foot chase on a train—something we’ve seen a thousand times before, and done better—and an all-out blitz at the end, which is mildly fun but too little too late. There is a long stretch in the middle of the movie where not much happens at all; the filmmakers get spun up repeating the same few lines that are usually used as dismissals of women—namely “don’t be so emotional”—but such attempts seem heavy handed and clunky.

Some of the dialogue was so bad my friend and I often looked at each other in the darkness and scoffed, and I checked the time repeatedly to see how much was left in the movie. On the way out, I declared the movie “sucked,” which in hindsight was a little extreme. For a Marvel movie, Captain Marvel is easily one of the worst—but in the scheme of things, it isn’t a terrible movie, just one without much affect. It seems tonally off, just ever so little—the pieces are all there but between the writing, acting, and direction, the movie is never able to get off the ground.

I’m all for strong female superheroes, or strong female leads. But Marvel needs to and can do better than Captain Marvel.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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