'Captain Marvel' review: Run-of-the-mill origin story saved by stellar cast and witty script

Teng Yong Ping
Lifestyle Editor

 

Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Photo: Marvel Studios

The latest Marvel Studios blockbuster, Captain Marvel, is finally here – the film will premiere in Singapore on Thursday (7 March). In this origin story, we are introduced to Carol Danvers, who finds herself caught between an intergalactic war between two alien races, the Kree and the Skrulls. She supposedly belongs to the Kree race, but when she crash-lands on Earth after a botched mission, she finds that she has a past on this planet that she cannot remember due to a mysterious amnesia. And everybody is racing to find a lightspeed engine that will change the course of the war, invented by a Dr Wendy Lawson, whom Danvers is somehow linked to in her past life on Earth.

People will inevitably make comparisons between Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, both films being the first to feature a female superhero protagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe respectively. And Captain Marvel manages to pull off a soaring tale of self-discovery and empowerment much like Wonder Woman, which is one of DC Films’ best movies (that’s not saying much, I know).

But we’ve come to expect a bit more from Marvel Studios instead of the run-of-the-mill origin story that we get here. Make no mistake, an origin story can make for a great superhero film. But we want to see the hero make a dramatic personal choice at the climax that will define the character and save the day. But Captain Marvel saves the day by merely going from powerful to… more powerful?

The film is saved by witty dialogue by co-directors/screenwriters Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and stellar performances from the cast. It’s a pity that Brie Larson, who has an Oscar for best actress under her belt, strangely lacked charisma in her role as the title character, though she turned in some nice comic performances. Jude Law phones it in as the heroine’s Kree commander and mentor Yon-Rogg. Instead, Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn steal the show as a younger Nick Fury and Skrull villain Talos respectively. That is, until the tabby cat Goose steals the show from them in some of the most “WTF” moments of the movie – and not just because of his total adorableness.

By the way, we find out how Nick Fury gets his facial scar which necessitates his trademark eyepatch (it’s not the manly battle wound some make it out to be.) We also find out where the heck Captain Marvel disappeared to all this time while the Avengers were busy saving Earth from alien invaders and psychotic supervillains.

Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) in ‘Captain Marvel’. Photo: Marvel Studios 2019

Being set in 1995, the movie has many ’90s references sprinkled throughout (have fun spotting them, for those who grew up in that decade!) Especially funny are the jokes about the slow computers of that bygone era. At one point the good guys gather round a PC to listen to an important audio recording – after several beats of waiting for the opened file to play, a confused Danvers asks, “What’s happening?” Fury replies drily: “It’s loading.”

You might be very confused at first that some members of the Kree race of aliens have blue skin, while others have pink skin, making them physically identical to humans. But I’ll save you the Googling: in the comics, the Kree were originally blue-skinned, but some members eventually bred with outsiders to form a second pink-skinned racial group. (That still doesn’t explain why these aliens look identical to humans. Well, that’s comics for you.)

There are two post-credits scenes, as is normal for Marvel Studios films. Make sure you stay for the first one as it follows on from the cliffhanger ending in Avengers: Infinity War where Fury paged for the Captain to save the day after Thanos kills half of all living beings in the universe. Yes, it’s confirmed that Captain Marvel will feature in Avengers: Endgame, which will be released next month (it’s that soon!!)

As for the second post-credits scene, it’s a cute but throwaway scene – it’s OK for you to skip this one, especially if you have a bursting bladder at that point. It’s also OK to skip it even if you have no urge to rush to the loo.

Here’s a Captain Marvel trailer if you haven’t watched it:

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