Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Captain Marvel

By sati (harlequinade) Tuesday, March 12, 2019 , , , , , , , , , , ,

(spoilers!)

For years the billionaires over at Marvel were giving men male-centered comic book movies with ease. Several times a year the boys and men in Marvel fanbase got to see someone who shares their gender lead the film and kick ass. The women in those movies? Award winning actresses playing love interests. The only prominent female character since the beginning of the franchise is Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow who started as eye candy and then in - Joss Whedon's awful Age of Ultron - had the dubious honor of participating in the absolute rock bottom of MCU as she suggested since she cannot bear children she is a monster. Now Black Widow is getting her overdue solo movie, only after the character lost its spark and Johansson clearly lost interest in playing her.

Things started looking up only last year - with Black Panther bringing us brilliant female characters Shuri, Okoye and Nakia and Marvel releasing Ant-Man and the Wasp and patting themselves on the back that they finally released a female co-led movie. Never mind she was turned to dust instead of her male co-lead in the mid-credits scene which totally annihilated any sense of joy the movie preceding it generated. The less is said about Valkyrie, a character Tessa Thompson is insisting is bisexual even though the evidence of that was cut from the movie by the powers at the studio, the better. Representation doesn't work when it's not actually there on the screen and when it only exists on the cutting room's floor.
And now, finally, we have arrived at the moment when Marvel decided to do something about their awful track record. 20 movies and 11 years after MCU began, Marvel has finally decided to give the women a female-led CBM.

*muted "yey" and sarcastic slow clap*

There is so much backlash surrounding the movie and while most of it is due to our society being stupid and most men apparently being weak and insecure, Feige and co. contributed to it. They trained their male fanbase to expect women to be either love interests or eye candy. And now they are trying to make up for it. They still have a very long way to go, but this is an excellent first stop.
Captain Marvel arrives way too late but thank God at least it's a good movie with plenty of heart. I cannot even imagine what a disaster it would be, all because of Marvel's reluctance to make a female-led CBM for years, if this movie was awful. That said it's far from the best MCU films and a lot of it could have been done way better. There is a truly dreadful beginning and things don't really start going once Carol begins to delightfully show her spark and her powers, which ends to her landing on Earth and running into Agent Fury.

The person who deserves the most praise here is Brie Larson. There are some people out there calling her performance as Carol bland but it couldn't be further from the truth - her Carol is fun, lively, brave, hilarious and arrogant - a trait that apparently makes Tony Stark "cool" but causes a backlash when is depicted by a woman. I liked Carol a lot, I liked that she was confident, I liked that she was spontaneous and I liked her sassiness. If this is "bland" then do Chris Evans in Captain America and Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange even exist? Or have their blandness cause them to disappear? Because they were not great in their first appearances and only got better - much better - in subsequent ones. Larson wipes the floor with them and delivers a heroine I instantly liked. I cannot wait to see her interact with other characters in Avengers: Endgame.
Larson has wonderful chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson who is clearly having tons of fun. There's underused Annette Bening and Jude Law in forgettable roles but thankfully there is also Ben Mendelhson who delivers hilarious and memorable performance as Skrull leader Talos, a character I hope we get to see again. The cast is all at the top of their games, it's just the script doesn't give everyone enough to do. There is also a cat called Goose played by four feline thespians, that everyone is going to love after this movie. The cat, Fury and Talos (and his science guy!) provide so many laugh out loud moments, making it one of the funniest MCU movies to date.

The cinematography and visual effects are lower-tier MCU effort with some of it evoking the memory of Aeon Flux - the dreadful look of the scenes where Carol talks to Supreme Intelligence. It's a mixed bag, though - the CGI work to make Samuel L. Jackson look much younger is incredible. But then there is the problem almost all of MCU movies face - bland look of the movie. What do they spend money on with those films and why don't any of them except for Guardians movies look good? 21 tries and 2 movies with impressive visual side is not a good result at all. Thankfully, at least the music is better in MCU flicks lately and this one is no exception - with both the score and the selection of songs being great.
The bland VFX side of the film is rescued by Larson's performance whose Carol is having so much fun while using their powers even with the film not looking as spectacular as it should, her joy distracts from that part. The gesture she makes after she shows Ronan the extent of the powers is the most badass thing she does in this movie. But Marvel should have tried harder here. It's inexcusable that the technical side could have been better and isn't. They have the money and the resources. The film sometimes looks like a Star Trek inspired show and even though is is a theatrical release from a major studio the production design and the look of the movie are worse than in that one Black Mirror episode.

While the story overall is nothing new, there are two rather inspired elements of it - the twist as to who the real villains are provides a smart and insightful surprise, positioning the beautiful as the bad guys and the different looking Skrulls as the victims of oppression. And another great bit is that while this is an origin story, there is an interesting way of presenting it, with part of the mystery being what really happened to Carol and us putting the pieces along with her.
The film may not have a scene of such incredible power as Wonder Woman's No Man's Land sequence but the montage of Carol persistently getting up after she fell down, over and over again, throughout her life, as men tell her what she can or cannot do and she constantly defies them, showing them exactly how capable and brave she is, is the film's most emotional and best moment. There's also truly lovely tribute to Stan Lee at the beginning of the movie and the shot of Larson's smile after his short cameo, a moment that was added recently, is such a nice and heartwarming touch.

While Captain Marvel, if it had been a Phase 1 movie, would be right on time and appear better than it does today, it would be unfair to hold it against the filmmakers that the studio itself has been out of touch for so long. It's a fun, heartwarming and entertaining movie, like pretty much all of MCU movies are. And with Brie Larson's Carol we finally have a well developed, interesting female heroine from somewhere other than Wakanda. It took a very, very long time but the future of MCU is finally, at least in part, female.
74/100 (USA, 2019, 124 min)
Plot: Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writers: Anna Boden (screenplay by), Ryan Fleck (screenplay by)
Stars: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn

27 comments:

  1. I LOVED the fact that the skrulls turned out to be the good guys.
    also it shows how little faith they had in the movie, since the next avenger is only weeks away..

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    1. Eh, I think they HAD to make that solo now that she will show up in Endgame :) It's a shame it took them this long

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    2. until I was actually seated I thought it was GONNA BE about endgame, smh. need to pay more attention! but yeah, their timing is definitely off.

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    3. Oh no! You were expecting Thor and he wasn't there :D

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  2. I love the banner you made!

    I think we're about the same on this movie. I liked it, but it did feel a bit like a phase one movie, but it worked well for me so I don't mind . I loved the chemistry between the leads.

    I'm not sure any movie will be able to replicate what WW had with No Man's Land. That's one of a kind.

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    1. Oh that's actually official poster I just edited it a bit :)

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  3. YES, I totally agree with:
    - Larson has great chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson
    - the de-aging of Jackson is very well done
    - underused Annette Bening and Jude Law, although like, damn, Jude Law is everywhere these days, right?
    - Ben Mendelhson was hilarious and I hope we get to see again, too

    Also, very interesting analysis in the first part of the article about Marvel and how they portray women. I almost feel like they did this because of 1) Wonder woman pressure & success, 2) the market and audience wanted it

    Great write-up!

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    1. Yeah I think they fast tracked this one once even DC was going to be ahead of them when it comes to female led movies. It is truly embarassing it took them more than 20 movies to finally do that

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  4. Goose is OBVIOUSLY the true star of this movie, but Brie Larson sure does give it her all. I absolutely loved her sense of humor, and her chemistry with Jackson (who is clearly having more fun here than he has in any movie in YEARS) is great. The movie as a whole was a lot funnier than I expected, but OOF that first act is just AWFUL. And you're right that the look, especially of the visual effects, feels VERY "Phase One" (which is when this should have been released ANYWAY, but WHATEVER). It's also nowhere near as good as Wonder Woman, but it is enjoyable - I had to pee REALLY BAD throughout the whole second half but didn't want to get up because I was enjoying it so much.

    I hope we get more of Ben Mendelsohn's Talos, too!

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    1. Jackson had a lot of fun on Hitman's Bodyguard, though :) But yeah it's easily the most joyful he was in all of MCU!

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  5. I loved the twist on who he bad guys were. I feel like I should have seen it coming but I didn't and it made Ben Mendelsohn's character even better.
    The start of the movie wasn't great at all but I'm so glad it picked up and that it's been a success. I doubt it'll shut the disgusting trolls up but it would have been a disaster if it failed, like you said!

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    1. With Carol being in that Endgame trailer released yesterday I am sure this weekend it Will do awesome at box office again :)

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  6. That montage was one of my favorite parts. And I did love the bad guy twist, though I was wondering if they were lying too! But Jude Law just has that 'I'm secretly a villain' look about him that I should have known better. I hope we see Goose in End Game. Great review!

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    1. Yeah I almost wait for his Dumbledore to reveal himself to be evil in those crappy fantastic beasts movies :)

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    2. some HP fans might say Dumbledore WAS evil, so...

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    3. Really? HP fanbase seems so intense :)

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    4. Unfortunately yes. I'm a huge Potter fan but I don't delve too deep into the fandom for the sake of my mental health LOL

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  7. I agree on the beginning, it was terrible. All I could think was "damn, Brie is so beautiful" and "I hope this gets better because I can't bear two hours of this".

    I'm so glad you mentioned that sequence showing Carol always getting up as it was the highlight of the film for me. Damn, I got so emotional I nearly cried.

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    1. Yeah I nearly cried too! The music in this moment was so epic and added a lot to already great moment

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  8. This was a fun film. Loved Goose and Talos and Nick Fury being a cat guy! I didn't love it but I liked it about as much as any of their origin stories. There's great potential for this character going forward!

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  9. I haven't had a chance to watch this, but judging from the reviews, I'd have to! Always keen on well crafted villains, who turn out to be something more than world destroyers. Great post, as always!

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    1. Thank you! Villains are more of a surprise here than an in depth thing :)

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  10. I felt like it fell flat compared to the other Marvel entries. And the more I think about it, the less I like it. I think the pressure on it took it down a notch, and it feels like it doesn't really know how to fit into the franchise.

    I just don't know. I've tried to collect my thoughts more and more, we did a podcast episode on it, and that really brought out a lot of the points Cap Marvel failed at but still.. I feel like I have more to say but it's hard to criticise it without sounding douchy.

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    1. Well you are not a dude so I dont think you would come offf as douchy here :)

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  11. "Representation doesn't work when it's not actually there on the screen and when it only exists on the cutting room's floor." YAASSSSSS.

    I wouldn't agree that Larson was better than Evans in The First Avenger, but definitely better than Cumberbatch with Doctor Strange. I always forgot that he even has his own movie. One of my favorite moments is when Jude Law loses control of his emotions and is testing her to fight him, and she just coolly shoots him with her powers. For all the preaching and projection that he pushed onto her about discipline, he never really had any while she learned to "control" hers. Larson, Jackson, and the supporting cast did a great job.

    Aeon Flux!!! That's the movie I was trying to think of, especially during the Special Intelligence scenes. Thank you for bringing that up!

    I agree that the movie fills Phase 1 of Marvel and it was a fun adventure before Endgame hits.

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    1. Yeah I had such violent flashbacks to Aeon Flux here :D

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