Captain Marvel

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  Captain Marvel
 

The Skrull and the Kree have been battling in a long time interplanetary war – each wanting to destroy the other. That war has come to the edge of the galaxy at the planet designated C-53. We know it better as Earth. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) will become the unlikely hero in a battle between good and evil in "Captain Marvel."
 
Robin:
I gave up on originality in the Marvel Comic Universe long ago, feeling that, after the first one or two, they all became the same. Well, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck follow this pattern but borrow freely from "Star Wars," "Star Trek, "Men in Black," the MCU and other films for a generic story that is, to me, boring.
 
I suppose that the fans of the Marvel Universe will understand what is going on in the story. For me, however, I found the whole film to be a muddle of special effects, disjointed writing and lack of humor. The humor, especially, is built in to the other Marvel films and I wonder why there is nearly none in "Captain Marvel."
 
The answer, I think is in the film's star, Brie Larson, as hot-shot fighter pilot and kick ass warrior Carol Danvers. She is OK in the action sequences, which are many, but is too serious an actor for the character. That is a real problem for a hero in a franchise that is known for its mirth.
 
There is a story of sorts here with the evil Skrull are out to destroy the good Kree and rule the universe. But things are not as they first appear, so you better be prepared to take notes and shift allegiances as you watch the story explore its tangential paths. It is telling that there are eight credited writers, making this a kitchen sink of clichés. I give it a C-.

Laura:
On the Kree planet of Hala, Vers (Brie Larson), who has no memory of her past, is being trained by Spaceforce commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her super powers in battle by suppressing her emotions.  They are intent on wiping out the Skrulls, shapeshifters led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) who can take on the identity of anyone they see, at the behest of their Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening).  During battle, Vers plummets through the rooftop of a Blockbuster on C53, aka Planet Earth, where she immediately comes under the scrutiny of SHIELD’s Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).  Vers’s flashes of her past coalesce during a hunt for her former mentor Dr. Lawson’s (Bening) light speed engine plans developed under a secret NASA/USAF project named Pegasus.  A witness name found at that facility leads her to the best friend, USAF pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who thought she’d died six years ago.  Fury’s first encounter with aliens and the human who’s absorbed the power of her mentor’s creation lead him to the idea of the Avengers with his first superhero, “Captain Marvel.”

Marvel’s Kevin Feige has been shaking things up by hiring indie directors like Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) and Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”) to give new twists to his big budget franchise movies, the latter busting boundaries with its technologically forward Black African nation of Wakanda.  But with Marvel’s latest from cowriter (with Geneva Robertson-Dworet)/directors Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson,” “Sugar”), Marvel not only finds itself lagging behind DC with its first female super hero, but utterly losing the contest.  “Captain Marvel” is a boring mishmash of ideas from a score of other movies and franchises (“Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible,” “Alien” among others).  Thank God for the cat named Goose and Samuel L. Jackson.

This one’s adapted from Kelly Sue DeConnick’s version of the comic book hero, who made Carol Danvers an Air Force pilot and dispensed with the skimpy costume.  So far, so good.  But this film is alternately bad (production design is drab, everything dusty and industrial, the one respite Rambeau’s home) and transparent (the 90’s soundtrack featuring Nirvana, R.E.M. and Garbage an obvious “Guardians of the Galaxy” style cash grab).  In interviews, Brie Larson has stated that the biggest misconception about her is that she’s serious, but there is something humorless about her acting style that weighs down a movie that should be more buoyant.  When the camera rests a little too long on Larson’s smile at Stan Lee’s (presumed last) cameo as a train passenger, all it does is call attention to itself.  It’s a lot more fun witnessing 90’s versions of new recruit Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and a two-eyed Samuel L. Jackson, although other retro references are too on the nose (Blockbuster, Radio Shack and early, slow loading web browsers).

Even the ‘everything is not as it seems’ plot seems tired, tipped a little early with a jarring comment from Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) that also doubles as a flat-footed Trump reference.  Political relevance has never felt so tacked on.  If you make it to the end of the movie, stick around for two stingers, one which injects Marvel into the Avengers ensemble, the last hopefully not the last we’ll see of Goose.

Grade:  C-
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