Film Review: CAPTAIN MARVEL

As has been the case with many of the MCU films to date, the seed had been planted for CAPTAIN MARVEL long before her solo outing, thanks to a stinger - that fans have now come to expect as a Marvel Studios staple - left in the post credits scene of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. If you don't recall the moment, then let me recap: As Nick Fury was "blowing away," we saw him paging (yes, with that archaic device known as a pager) someone for help. As the screen cut to a closeup of the pager, we were treated to an emblem popping up in response to Fury's page.

Though many folks stratched their heads upon seeing this emblem, I, along with a hand full of others, knew that it teased the arrival of the Marvel superheroine, Captain Marvel! Though the character was actually planned to appear a lot earlier in the MCU (in a form of a cameo in 2015's AGE OF ULTRON), Marvel Studios decided to shelve the character so that she could debut in her own adventure. So, I'm sure you're asking, was the wait worth it?

Well yes, kind of...

Like the early MCU entry, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, CAPTAIN MARVEL is a period piece - taking place in 1995. Vers (LARSON), as the story begins, is a Kree (humanoid alien) soldier whose race is in a long standing war with the shape-shifting aliens known as The Skrulls. However, after an inciting incident with the latter group, Vers soons finds herself on a journey to piece together her past - which reveal major revelations about her abilities as well as her heritage (both of which, I won't spoil here). It is in this journey that we meet familiar younger versions of MCU mainstays, Nick Fury (JACKSON) and his right hand guy, Agent Phil Coulson (GREGG), in their early S.H.I.E.L.D. days.

Now, while we're on the subject of Fury and Coulson, I'd like to segue the discussion first to the impressive de-aging effects used on both characters. Seeing that we now live in a world where audiences are a lot more sophisticated (in terms of their ability to identify the visual effects used in movies), the effects used for these characters were overall pretty seamless. The only moments that I recall being a tad distracting were a few select few moments involving Coulson - i.e. there are moments when he looks slightly weird. Additionally, in regards to the Captain's powers - that quite a site to behold when they are on display - and the Skrulls ability to shape-shift, the effects are again quite impressive.

Another great element - which is another staple in films from Marvel Studios - that the film has going for it is it's world building. Despite the fact that the MCU is chock full with so many various diverse characters and worlds, many of the films are great about peppering themselves with story threads from other films in its ever-expanding interconnected universe. For instance, in this film, there is "a mcguffin" - that eagle-eyed fans will recognize - from other MCU films that factors into the film's narrative. Similarly, in this same respect, there are other easter eggs on display to enjoy as well, such as a certain character's fate and a certain team's origins (just to name a few).

Now, on to my gripe with the film, which is the script. Unlike its other fellow contempories in the MCU, the dialogue in MARVEL, can, at times, come off as rather bland, vs the slick, witty flair that fans might expect from Marvel Studios film. As a result, some of the moments that are supposed to be heroic come across kind of cheesy and moments intended to be funny sometimes fall flat. This prospect was somewhat surprising considering the top-notch, Oscar-caliber actors (Brie Larson, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn) the film had at it dispossal. Though Larson, Law, Jackson, and Mendelsohn all do their best to elevate the dialogue, the script - on occasion - doesn't do them any favors. As a result, most of the film's characters never truly stand out, except for an unlikely scene-stealing feline, Goose (you'll understand why when you see the film).

All in all, despite some poor dialogue, CAPTAIN MARVEL's terrific effects and fun world-building allow it to be a very serviceable entry in the MCU.

Grade: B-

*As always with Marvel films, be sure to stick around for two stingers once the credits roll (one mid-credits, and one at the very, very end).

CAPTAIN MARVEL opens in theaters on March 8, 2019.

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