By Chic DiCiccio
For the first time in what seems like forever, Marvel Studios has whiffed. Okay, maybe not a whiff, but “Captain Marvel” is the movie equivalent of a lazy fly ball. It’s a movie from a studio that knows failure isn’t possible and, as long as it’s passable, fans aren’t going to revolt. Make no mistake, this movie will earn millions upon millions of dollars, but it cannot even approach the excellence of “Black Panther.”
It’s a shame, as this is Marvel’s first superhero movie loaded with girl power (literally) and sadly, some of the blame falls on Brie Larson’s turn as Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Vers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel. She looks the part and when she throws a punch, you’ll buy into it. There’s just no personality in the role and it’s all Neo with no Diana Prince.
The script and direction from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck doesn’t do anyone any favors either. It’s not easy crafting an origin story that doesn’t bog down and bore a core audience that’s seen about 1,000 of them. So instead, Boden and Fleck threw in the standard comic book movie MacGuffin, but with a twist.
See, Carol has amnesia and cannot remember anything but the last six years of her life. That life seems to have exclusively involved military training at the behest of an alien race called the Kree, who are in the midst of a giant space war with another alien race called the Skrulls. All Carol really knows is that she somehow shares DNA with the Kree, can fire lasers from her hands, and isn’t allowed to smirk at the behest of her commander, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law).
By the time that Carol crashes into Earth, “Captain Marvel” is a confusing head scratcher. But look! There’s a Blockbuster Video and a pay phone! It’s 1991! We also know we are in the distant past when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up sans eye patch.
At this point, “Captain Marvel” picks up some steam as Carol and Fury investigate a conspiracy involving the Air Force, aliens and a precious kitty cat named Goose that nearly steals the entire movie from everyone. But, not even that adorable cat can rob Ben Mendelsohn of that feat. He plays a Skrull named Talos who happens to speak with Mendelsohn’s natural Australian accent to hilarious perfection.
The action is decent but doesn’t have an iconic moment like Wonder Woman on a WWII battlefield or Thor delivering beatdowns to “The Immigrant Song.” Instead, a frivolous song choice distracts from what should have been Carol’s realization as a superhero. Sure, some people may like it, but it’s a bubble gum pop song when at this point in the movie, Carol is a bonafide punk rock superstar and the movie desperately need to show that.
The good news is that Marvel seems to know what they are doing and make no mistake, there will be a sequel to “Captain Marvel.” Larson is already going to show up in the comic book movie to end all comic book movies, “Avengers: End Game,” so perhaps they can fine tune her character more there. This feels very much like the first “Thor” (or second one for that matter) when the tone and characterization just seemed a little off.
Larson can only work with what she is given, and she does fit the part, but she plays the least interesting character in a movie about her character. Needless to say, that’s not good. She does get to go full hero in the end, but by that time, “Captain Marvel” is out of gas and can best be described in one word: underwhelming.