"Never take off the mask."
"Never take off the mask."

Unmasked: “Captain Marvel”

Marvel, Mar-Vell?

It often happens that whenever the time comes for me to write about a Marvel movie, something comes up and then somehow I can’t find the energy to sit down and scribble something appropriate (there are always exceptions, of course – which was the case for “Thor: Ragnarok”, for example, where we even managed to shoot an amateur video). Now that I think about it, I haven’t even tried to write anything about any of the previous movies in this universe, even though I consider myself to be a fan. Well, because of that and also because a ton of things have been spoken and written about today’s movie, I decided to get involved in the whole mess as well and share my opinion about the latest production of the famous studio, where the movie name this time even contains the company itself (although, to be honest, I’m yet again too late with my opinion – just don’t mind the translated review’s publish date – it was actually written at the time the movie came out, so bear that in mind when reading).

As you have probably figured out already, today’s focus is the 21st movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second to last from the current phase, whose end is coming out at the end of the month, for which we can’t wait already (well, it will definitely be properly honoured in this blog once it comes out) and which is probably the main reason for this movie to even exist since the story could have easily gone on without it, but more details about this will be shared later. The directors’ seats this time are taken by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck whose names didn’t really ring a bell (and still don’t) and the only thing I can link to them is some movie that was released in the now distant 2010 – “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” which I didn’t find funny, apparently, or found to be nothing impressive as well since I’ve basically only heard its name. Well, in this case, sadly for the viewers to some extent (or rather not) the saying that two heads think better than one doesn’t really count as Boden and Fleck can’t even come close to the Russo brothers’ quality, for example, and the idea that they have been supposed to direct the “Guardians of the Galaxy” makes me like it even more in its current state. Don’t get me wrong, their directing is decent, I just have the feeling that it’s not good enough for a movie of this caliber, especially having in mind the expectations set beforehand.

Speaking of expectations – yes, “Captain Marvel” can be considered a precedent in the history of Marvel movies since it’s the first superhero movie in the universe with a full-fledged female protagonist with an own origin story. So what? All of the movie’s descriptions and ads reek of feminism which kind of reminds me of one “Black Panther” where the public opinion was bipolar in the end only because the film’s praising was coming more from purely subjective reasons rather than anything else and from critics’ fear that someone would claim them to be racists, homophobes, anti-vaxxers or whatever else you’d like to call them. In the end the result for both is the same – the movies bring more than a billion dollars income only because they please specific layers of society but, in reality, although not bad, they’re nothing special at all. Why do I believe that “Captain Marvel” is not an exception from this? Read more below to find out.

What’s so wrong with it?

Let’s take a look at the main subject and the actual reason which makes the film be described as one of the weakest of the studios that ever came out – the plot. The sad thing in this case is that I’m inclined to agree. “Captain Marvel” tries to be serious exactly in the first 30 minutes after which it becomes a bit of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” parody. The retro music, the video stores, the arcade games and everything else that you see in the movie which might make you nostalgic is unfortunately not enough to save the movie from what it is without them. And personally I found this to be an extreme turn towards a childish story with a happy end for 3-year-olds. And yes, I know it’s a comic book movie and yes, I know that comics are for kids but in the last few years Marvel have managed to build a sort of an image for their films and succeeded in turning them into something unique in order to make them likeable for people of all ages. In this case, however, things are obviously rushed, so that Carol Danvers can somehow be introduced in the universe instead of appearing out of nowhere in order to solve the Avengers’ problem with Thanos. As a result we get a slobbery origin story in which the best thing is literally an animal (which of course has a quite strong presence in the advertising campaign) and not even a real one since, ironically or not, auntie Brie is allergic to cats and Goose is much more CGI than you’d expect from a regular cat.

No matter whether you’d call it Goose or Chewie, like it’s in the original (it appears someone has watched more “Star Wars” than usual), the kitty is the coolest thing in the movie and every normal person would die of cuteness overdose, and in Brie Larson’s case … well, she’d just die.

I can’t deny that the story has its moments since we got the answers to quite a lot of questions which were left open in the previous movies (the Tesseract’s backstory was a nice one, for example), and with rather logical explanations included, as a matter of fact. Well, it should be obvious that the mentioned above doesn’t include the ridiculous scenes, such as the one where Fury lost his eye, and from one moment onwards the viewers with a sharper eye will start noticing some other annoying details which are supposed to fill the holes in the bigger picture but instead of that they raise new questions and create even more confusion (a simple example: Who is the first avenger after all? – Well, at least I know it’s a captain but their gender doesn’t seem to be certain – I guess they’re a “gender” indeed, we are tolerant after all). With a risk to repeat myself I want to say that something too good is usually not good and in their desire to capture all the best and most loved parts from the previous movies in the universe, Boden and Fleck are presenting to us a quickly made-up story which tries hard to be great in all of its aspects but rather disappoints in each and every one of them.

What’s not so wrong with it?

Moving on further and getting to the cast, I believe too much has already been written and discussed about any topics related to it and you wouldn’t hear anything new from me. The truth is that I think Brie wasn’t actually such a bad choice but she was definitely not the best one. There were a couple of worthy moments which were to show why they entrusted such an important role with her but in the end she’s left with quite an unimaginative and emotionless performance (and if she tried to show any emotions, it didn’t work out) and the people around her don’t really help her much. But on a second thought, we’ve had way weirder casting choices for such important characters so maybe “Avengers: Endgame” will be the real answer whether the movie creators have messed it up so much, trying to be correct in all aspects, or Larson is indeed not suitable for this role (since, I admit, I like her as an actress – in “Kong: Skull Island”, for example, even with a smaller part – but I just don’t think I like her that much as the Captain), or maybe Marvel have just run out of options so much that they are ready to fill the cast with whoever comes up with an Oscar or a Golden Globe, none of which has really been a proof for a talented actor/actress lately.

On the other side we have Sam Jackson, though, who impresses with a much more joyful and care-free Nick Fury and it kind of suits him. We usually see him talk nonsense in more criminally oriented movies but this time he talks nonsense in a movie which tries to be funnier and more light-hearted which actually benefits it. Apart from the people mentioned so far we have: Clark Gregg who continues to perform the same way in all movies (and series) in the universe, Ben Mendelsohn who even made me like his race and is probably the second best thing after Jackson in this movie, as well as Captain Marvel’s friend, whose name I didn’t even care to remember simply because she didn’t do anything interesting or worth remembering in this movie (and hey, I’m not a racist or an anti-feminist, I’m just being objective).

Sam and Brie are obviously having fun behind the scenes and thank God the first one is there to make their synergy work. We’ll see how that turns out in a month when they’re supposed to be old again.

When talking about visuals, “Captain Marvel” doesn’t really shine with anything innovative or interesting. Everyone who has watched at least one of the studio’s movies has probably already gotten used to the colourful and sparkling effects (now that I think about it, was the scene with Carol’s shining a religious reference or what?) and the CGI characters or those with a lot of make-up. One thing I can’t deny, though, is that the CGI definitely worked out this time – and not even because of how the kree and skrull looked like, but more because of the great result they have achieved with making quite a lot of the characters look younger. Obviously I refer to Fury, Coulson and Ronan, even though we saw too little of the latter (it’s a shame he won’t be available for the “Endgame” to see the second coming, *cough* See what I did there? *cough*, of the captain). The 3D is horrible for yet another time but if I have to be honest, I’m not sure it’s even worth pointing it out anymore since I’m pretty sure there isn’t a movie with such scale that is not unnecessarily “three-dimensional” nowadays.

Without a doubt, though, the best part of the movie for me is the soundtrack. It’s also the main reason to understand better the initial choice for “Guardians of the Galaxy”‘s directors as we had the 80s classics there, since here we can see a similar concept with songs mainly from the early 90s. Hits from the end of the last century manage to give the audience some of that sentimental feeling and help them dive into that era at least for a bit, although … well, now that I mentioned them, even they can’t really save the movie from what it is.

Well, a worthy Marvel movie, or?

There’s a high probability that you’d feel the same way once you leave the cinema (i.e. almost as if they’ve just brainwashed you or have studied what you like so that they could make the movie to your exact taste). 

To wrap it up, what is “Captain Marvel” actually? If I had to describe it with a single word, that would be a “filler”. The movie felt exactly as if it filled the time slot between two anime arcs, for example, when the first finished with a cliffhanger only to make you wait for the second one even more in order to see what happens next. An apparent intentional move by Marvel which on top of everything tries not only to be politically correct, as it’s been trendy recently, but also to emphasize on the equity and even on the dominance of the female gender, the movie rather fails in what it’s trying to accomplish than convince us otherwise, and the several ad campaigns, trailers and marketing of Brie Larson’s image can’t really escape from that as well.

The truth is that “Captain Marvel” is definitely not as bad as the public opinion is but it’s definitely worse than most of the other movies in the universe and this is a proof enough for its “qualities”. It had the potential to be something different and much better but the ideas taken from here and there and the filling of plotholes in the whole series’ story are not enough. In the end what we get is a mediocre story which stresses on motives and ideals that every woman with some self-respect (the movie is obviously trying to attract the female audience as well), who would, for some reason, go to the cinema to watch a comic movie, would rather like to forget after a while.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.