Sunday, March 10, 2019

Stubs - Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019) Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law. Directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck Screenplay by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Based on Captain Marvel (comic book) by Stan Lee and Gene Colan; and Carol Danvers (character created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan). Produced by Kevin Feige Run time: 124 minutes. USA Color Superhero, Action

At the end of Infinity War, the Avengers, and the rest of the world for that matter, found themselves in dire straits. Thanos (Josh Brolin) had, with a snap of his finger and because he was in the possession of the infinity stones, wiped out half of the population of the universe, including some of the well-known heroes of the last twenty films from Marvel Studios. In his last actions before he vanishes, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sends out a signal to Captain Marvel, someone who had not yet been introduced to the series.

This film, which opened this past Friday, introduces us to Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and gives us not only her backstory, but Fury’s and, to some extent, Agent Phil Coulson's (Clark Gregg) and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s as well. The title character, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, is played by Brie Larson, perhaps best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Room (2016). However, from now on, she’ll also have the role as Captain Marvel added to her name whenever her career is mentioned.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel.

While I had read Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel comics that came out in 2010, that was hardly a primer for this movie. While it may have been the first time Carol Danvers appeared as Captain Marvel in her own series, this movie doesn’t necessarily follow that storyline. The character’s first appearance was actually in 1968’s Marvel Super-Heroes #13. She was later christened Ms. Marvel [Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977)], Binary [The Uncanny X-Men #164 (December 1982)] and Warbird [The Avengers #4 (May 1998)] before becoming Captain Marvel [Avenging Spider-Man #9 (July 2012)], so there is a lot to draw from.

In this film, Danvers is a former U.S. Air Force Fighter pilot whose DNA has been fused with that of the Kree, a scientifically and technologically advanced militaristic alien race, that first appeared in the MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Now a member of the Kree’s Starforce, she’s commanded by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who trains her on how to use her powers.

Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg in Captain Marvel.

She returns to Earth while searching for Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), the leader of Skrulls, a race of shape-shifting extraterrestrials who are at war with the Krees. While on Earth, she makes the acquaintance of Fury who helps her come to terms with her own past and helps her discover a secret that changes her forever.

I came to this film with no expectations. I’ve learned after twenty films that not all Marvel movies are made the same. Some are really good, like Iron Man (2008) and The Avengers (2012), some seem like school, Doctor Strange (2016), while others are downright not very good or compelling, Thor (2011). But I keep going to these films to make sure that I get the most out of the next film in the series, which overall has made up for any shortcomings of any one film in particular.

I left really enjoying the film. Not only was Larson very good in the role, but she was also surrounded by an experienced cast, including Jackson who deserves his usual good reviews for his turn as Fury. He’s always compelling to watch. Also strong is Lashana Lynch who plays Maria Rambeau, one of Danver’s oldest friends; and Annette Bening, who it seems like we haven’t seen much from lately, does well in dual roles as the Supreme Intelligence who runs Kree and Dr. Wendy Lawson, an early mentor of Danvers. Ben Mendelsohn manages to make you care about an alien by showing you the humanity within his character.

Samuel L.Jackson plays Nick Fury in Captain Marvel.

But the most impressive feature is the special effects which, like many of the MCU films, is dominant especially during the action sequences. As the credits will attest there is a lot of work done in post-production to make the film look as good as it does. The final sequences of the film are as much a testament to SFX technicians and animators as it is to any acting.

A small sample of the special effects that are used in Captain Marvel.

If you go to see the film, be sure that you stay through all the post-credit scenes. There are two and one of these will lead you directly into Endgame, the next feature in the series and the summation of Phase Three. We attended a 9:30 am screening at the Arclight Cinerama Dome so we could see the film in one of the few 3D showings. I was surprised that not everyone who attended with us, and there were only about 30, stayed through the scenes. You would think twenty-one films in everyone would know that there is always something that happens during the credits that are a prelude to the next film.

You may also notice that the opening Marvel logo has been turned into a tribute to the face of the comic book legend Stan Lee, who died recently. He does manage to make his usual cameo in this film.

In the end, I would strongly recommend this film. For the fans of the MCU, you will not need much encouragement to go see this film and probably already have. If you’ve been waiting for a film in the MCU franchise to have a strong female lead character, then wait no longer. This film was fun in the same way many of the earlier MCU films had been and you should come away waiting anxiously for the next shoe to drop in Endgame.

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