Even her poster is tagged “Higher, further, faster” but this movie fails to do all three. It is a decent blockbuster with some fine performances and a couple of thrilling action sequence, but some critics, myself included, have found it bizarrely pedestrian from a studio which prides itself on pushing boundaries. It was supposed to be the movie which redefines the MCU and sets up the future after Avengers Endgame. Instead, it feels like a slightly lumbering step backwards. The harsh fact is, by any other standards it is perfectly fine, but for a Marvel with DC finally snapping at its heels it feels like it stumbles rather than soars.
Larson brings intense conviction to a strangely restrained performance. She clearly has the charisma and the range, but neither is fully unleashed. Her dry humour and quips have echoes of Tony Stark and there are moments of banter with Samuel L Jackson’s (very impressively rendered) young Nick Fury, but it feels formulaic and a little forced.
Her seriousness has already raised an overly simplistic debate about whether it is sexist to expect women to smile and Brie Larson says it is part of “the female experience.” For me (and it must be said some female critics, too) it is not about being po-faced but whether any dynamic energy is conveyed. Whether any sense of personality shines through is crucial to a franchise built on character.
The Oscar-winner is impressively physical and convincing in the action sequences and the closing act finally brings some thrilling set-pieces and a classic twist. Yet, such a fine actress feels somehow so muted and distant that when the stakes were raised, the consequences high and the personal blows devastating – I simply didn’t care.
Yes, everyone is right, the cat is a total scene-stealer but that really shouldn’t be the best thing about a movie.
Marvel has such a great history is using left-field, lesser-known directors but Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck display neither mastery of the blockbuster form nor indie flair. The movie is overlong but uneven. Frantic moments of intense action or info-dumping punctuate long plodding sections possibly meant to explore character development. Yet I came out feeling like I didn’t know anyone at all. Banter alone does not a personality make.
The 1990s setting is fun, the visual gags and classy music choices are excellent, but it began to feel like a lot of smart box-ticking. Some indefinable essential ingredient – something Marvel usually excels at – is somehow missing. It felt like an MCU Phase 1 movie or that last Star Trek Beyond film that was supposed to get back to its roots but just felt a bit like the back end of the aforementioned.
I felt detached for too much of the film despite such fine actors and a galaxy-spanning plot. Marvel always does such a potent job of combining humour with heart so that consequences, when they come, are complex and hit that bit harder.
This is one of the only MCU movies that, for me, failed to do so. I never really understood the scale, stakes or actual point of the Kree-Skrull war so the big revelation was diminished and the abrupt forced shift in our sympathies was bewildering. Sure, it might be a commentary on perceptions and indoctrination with fake news but there was no interesting grey area just a staggering reversal of character.
Ben Mendelsohn is entertaining as Skrull villain Talos, Jude Law is commanding and impressive as Kree warrior Yon-Rogg and Annette Benning is pleasingly quixotic as the tricksy Kree Supreme Intelligence.
There is always such pleasure in seeing Clark Greg as Phil Coulson and Maria Rambeau is engaging, warm and the audience’s way into the movie as Carol’s former best friend Maria Rambeau. But strong performers like Lee Pace, Gemma Chan and Djimon Hounsou are frittered away in underdeveloped roles and Ronan, Minerva and Korath. There are also two more blue chaps in Carol’s Kree crew, but I can’t even remember their names.
There was so much I wanted to know more about, characters I was keen to explore, but over two hours actually told us very little, except the amusing truth of how Nick Fury lost his eye. Even the mid-credit Avengers Endgame scene is barely worth waiting for.
I wanted to love this film, not for the social issues, not even as the start of the vision for Phase 4, but because it had the potential to be something new and fresh. Instead, it felt old-fashioned, superficial and regressive.
For the first time ever, I’m a little nervous about what comes after Endgame.
CAPTAIN MARVEL IS OUT NOW
Published at Sat, 09 Mar 2019 01:01:00 +0000