Watch new ‘Captain Marvel’ movie trailer
A lot of critics, and a lot of fans are raving about “Captain Marvel.” Unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t feel obligated to love a Marvel movie — or a Star Wars movie — just because they’re Marvel or Star-Wars.
So don’t be fooled. For a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, “Captain Marvel” ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack. It’s not as bad as some but not close to as good as others. I know. That sounds wishy-washy. I didn’t hate the movie, but didn’t love it either.
We can also look at it another way. Two characters and some technology steal the movie. Bree Larson’s Captain Marvel is not among the characters. They are the cat, 1990s technology and the opening Marvel Cinematic Universe logo featuring bunches of Stan Lee cameos inserted into the graphics.
The only life, energy and humor found in the story come from the three. When a cat, the slow computers of the age and a logo are the very best things about a movie, you know it’s in trouble.
Here’s the story. Vers lives on Hala. She’s a Kree. Or so she thinks. They’re a militaristic society at war with the also warlike Skrulls. Vers, her mentor, Yon-Rogg and other warriors go on an important mission. Things go wrong and she gets captured.
After using her super powers to escape, Vers heads to Earth. The shapeshifting Skrulls follow. It’s on Earth that Vers — and I’m not giving anything away — learns she is Carol Danvers who has been missing and presumed dead for six-years.
To its credit, and like most Marvel movies, “Captain Marvel” has quality cinematography and effects. There’s also decent but not super-impressive acting. What undoes the movie is a so-so plot that starts with a backstory that gets you to the story that is — heavy sigh here — designed to make the producers a ton of money and establish the character for movies to come.
In this case the movies to come starts with “Avengers: Endgame,” the sequel to the bloated but not bad, “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Oscar and Golden Globe winner Brie Larson won the Captain Marvel casting lottery. She’s Vers aka Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel. Larson’s performance tops her acting in the crappy King Kong reboot, “Kong: Skull Island” and being cast as Captain Marvel will most certainly lead to many good paydays to come.
While I liked her work in the ensemble cast flick “Free Fire,” Larson hasn’t done much worth shouting about since “Room.”
There is a lot of shouting in “Captain Marvel.” It’s an often loud movie. Worth shouting about? No. What’s most unfortunate — from Larson’s point of view — is being a very good actress with so little to do. Her co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn and others don’t fare much better.
Part of the problem stems from five writers. As with most films with too many writers, it is likely four too many. Two of them — Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson”) — also direct.
While script co-writer and “Tomb Raider” reboot writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet has some experience with effects, the two directors have limited background and have mostly done movies without effects, or with minimal effects. So their imagination, and writing and directing skill start and end at the Marvel movie formula. “Captain Marvel” looks like it should and goes where it should.
Another criticism. This one — sorry fans — is scathing. Jackson reprises his Nick Fury role. The film is set in the mid-1990s. So Jackson — via motion capture gear — is electronically made to look 20-plus years younger than his actual age. Fury is treated this way as is Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson and Annette Bening who plays Danvers’ mentor.
The voices are right but the attempt to de-age them turns their faces into something resembling a bad plastic mask. Effects technology is getting better all the time but the CGI technicians are just not at a place yet where making an older actor look younger works all that well.
By the way, they use the same technology for a surprise cameo.
All this leads back to my opening statement. “Captain Marvel” sits somewhere in the middle of the Marvel movie pack. It’s not bad. It’s not good.
Or to put it more succinctly, “Captain Marvel” just isn’t all that marvelous.
▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, the AMC Classic Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
▪ Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5