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Captain Marvel: Review

Brie Larson’s debut entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe has more riding on its shoulders than a typical origin story. Since Samuel L. Jackson’s ‘Nick Fury’ used his final moments in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) to activate an enhanced pager, contacting ‘Captain Marvel’ for help, we expect that she packs a punch or two. Two years after DC’s Wonder Woman (2017) showed Hollywood that there is demand for female superhero solo films, Marvel presents us with their first, and yes – she packs a punch.

Captain Marvel follows ‘Vers’, a member of space combat team Star Force as they battle their Kree enemy the shape-shifting Skrulls. When a mission goes wrong, Vers finds herself on an alien planet, Earth, and gets to work trying to sabotage the Skrull invasion. Pursuing the invaders with young Nick Fury, she begins to realise this alien planet may not be so unfamiliar to her. Soon, she sees correlations between the visions she’s been experiencing and incidents on Earth connecting to her mission as she discovers ultimately what made her a hero.

Brie Larson owns this role and Captain Marvel is bold, brave and badass

Part of the charm of the film is in the way it gracefully handles the origin story, refusing the generic formula in favour of a refreshingly character-driven, drama oriented, while not entirely unpredictable one. Directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, manage to reduce the scale of this hero adventure and let the characters shine. We are introduced to a younger, less hardened Nick Fury, who sees his biggest MCU role in this film. Brie Larson owns this role and Captain Marvel is bold, brave and badass. Jackson steals the show and the chemistry of Carol and Fury is brilliant, introducing us to her with a character we know, but are seeing afresh. Carol’s Air Force friend Maria (Lashana Lynch), much like the instantly likeable characters of Black Panther (2018), takes seconds to work on screen.

The visual effects in Captain Marvel are fantastic. There are some slightly unconvincing shots, but overall the clarity of the CGI hits the mark alongside the directorial style and its broad landscapes and vivid colours. Samuel L. Jackson’s de-ageing is truly remarkable and utterly unnoticeable. Interestingly, it’s Clark Cregg’s de-ageing that sticks out like a sore thumb. Combined with Gregg’s portrayal of Coulson that leaves a microscopic range for facial expression, the youth effect makes ‘Coulson’ look like a barbie doll, and it’s quite distracting. The only other CGI mishap lies with ‘Goose’ the cat, where most of his shots were aided by or completely visual effects. It begs the question, if Marvel can make a walking, talking raccoon look relatively realistic, why couldn’t they make a cat? Despite these minor wrinkles, the CGI is one of Captain Marvel’s strong suits, and Goose is another show stealer.

The 90’s nostalgia tour is quite a joy, with our first sight of Earth from a Blockbuster store, followed by internet cafés and such. Well selected 90’s tracks permeate the soundtrack alongside an original score that hits all the right notes with space grandeur, 90’s electronic video game type sounds and heroic, horn-led melodies. The electronic elements fit thoroughly with the galactic aspect of our hero, with hints similar to Mark Mothersbaugh’s score for Thor: Ragnarok (2017). While there was no ear-hook theme to leave the cinema humming like Alan Silvestri’s mighty Avengers theme or Ludwig Goransson’s Black Panther (2018) trumpet blasts, the score builds the world when we’re in space and it swells with all the powerful high points of the film. One of Captain Marvel’s best features, the score is written by Pinar Toprak, Marvel’s first female composer.

There are moments where lines of dialogue move too quickly to hit the spot of humour or drama, particularly with Star Force, and I wish the editing had given some more space for these lines to sit right

While I wish the Skrulls had a less jarring and more comic accurate look, they are brilliant in this movie. Captain Marvel’s suit is joyously comic book accurate and looks great. Ben Mendelsohn shines in his role as ‘Commander Talos’, and the sinister nature of these sly, shape-shifting creatures follows them through every move of the film. Jude Law carries a great presence in the film, as well as the whole Star Force team, with highlights from Law, Minerva (Gemma Chan) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou). There are moments where lines of dialogue move too quickly to hit the spot of humour or drama, particularly with Star Force, and I wish the editing had given some more space for these lines to sit right.

Captain Marvel, already smashing the box office, is a blast. It gives Carol Danvers a glorious entry into the MCU, and while imperfect, it’s a load of fun, with impressive effects and stunning shots. She’s the most powerful hero Marvel’s screens have seen, and we just can’t wait to see her take the MCU into its next age. Without spoiling anything, Stan Lee’s tribute and the end credits scene are both epic.

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