Review: Captain Marvel

Spencer West reviews Marvel's recent release Captain Marvel

Spencer West
18th March 2019
Image: YouTube

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be eager to see what Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) brings to the table in The Avengers’ plight against Thanos. Avengers: Infinity War left audiences in complete turmoil after Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) paged Carol Denvers, more recognisably known as Captain Marvel, shortly before turning to dust, along with half of the universe’s population. Unfortunately for M.C.U fans, Captain Marvel fell significantly short of offering any closure as to how Larson’s character might solve the problems The Avengers are faced with. A film that boasts strong performances from Larson, Jackson and Jude Law, is ultimately hampered by a slow narrative lacking the exhilarating combat the genre and fans have come to demand.

The problems with this film begin when audiences are forced to question who it truly centres upon, with Nick Fury boasting an equal share of screen time – this is as much an origins story for the S.H.I.E.L.D agent as it is for our heroine. Events such as how Fury lost his eye, and came to establish The Avengers, are some of the most interesting pieces of information the film offers the M.C.U, which seems odd given that his role in the film should absolutely be secondary.

The film was consistently amusing, with anything involving ‘Goose’ the cat proving highly comical.

Captain Marvel’s backdrop was also problematic: whilst necessary, it seemed unexciting and arduous, with the recurring fragmented memories taking the place of what might have been more meaningful storytelling. Whilst the memories experienced by Larson’s character help build suspense, it felt as though their explanation was left too late within the film’s narrative. This meant little time was left for a climax fuelled by the heroine’s newfound identity. Any successful superhero film should depict how its hero aligns with their identity, but the balance struck between suspense and a progressive story certainly seems off.

This isn’t helped by the absence of a distinct villain figure – Captain Marvel’s decision to switch sides two thirds of the way through means the film really struggles to maintain any kind of momentum. Jude Law’s performance is as good as any, but his soft British accent, charming good looks, and tendency to be cast into ‘good guy’ parts, mean his character never feels suited to the villain role. His scolding of Captain Marvel for being ‘too emotional’ however, amplifies the feminist message sent by the film, as Larson’s character defeats him within the closing stages.

There are positives, however – the de-aging of Nick Fury is flawless; unnoticeable from the first scene to the last, important given that this C.G.I process might have left him looking completely fabricated. A young Nick Fury was well-rounded, witty, and thankfully, not completely naïve; meaning he made valuable contributions. The film was consistently amusing, with anything involving ‘Goose’ the cat proving highly comical.

Despite being showcased too late within the film, Captain Marvel’s powers are unquestionable. Her capability to breeze through a full team of Kree fighters with ease, fly into orbit and eviscerate an enemy mothership shortly before scaring off a young Ronan the accuser (Lee Pace), sets her up to be a formidable edition to The Avengers outfit. Her quips whilst fighting make her character likeable, and a strong finish allows the film to mask its earlier faults. The full extent of Carol Danvers’ powers are cinematically mesmerising; it’s just a shame they were withheld until the rushed final sequences.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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