Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (who previously worked together on Sugar and Half Nelson), Captain Marvel dropped today and does not disappoint. The movie welcomes back Samuel L Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight) and Clark Gregg (Choke, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as well as a new set of stars joining the MCU such as Brie Larson (The Room, Short Term 12), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, The Dark Knight Rises), and Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley, The Grand Budapest Hotel). As the first female-led film in the MCU, Captain Marvel had a budget of $152 million and we have yet to see how it will do on the US box office. In this post, I will be reviewing the film but will steer clear of any spoilers.
Performances and Casting
As always with the MCU, all the casting choices are brilliant and there is not a weak link. I’m not sure, however, how I feel about the choice of Mendelsohn for his character (though, as always, his performance is impeccable). Stand-out performances come from Larson (as expected) and Anette Benning (American Beauty, 20th Century Women). Also, surprisingly, Samuel L Jackson’s performance doesn’t seem to have been lessened by the ageing-down CGI.
Screenplay and Direction
The screenplay, as is often the case with the MCU is good but not amazing. It starts off great (aside from a lot of clumsy exposition) but generally tapers off a little towards the end as the writing gets a little lazy. Also, as again is common in the MCU a lot of the dialogue is cheesy and a little cringey (though those moments are much fewer here than in many of the other MCU films). Finally, some of the story choices are questionable but are chosen in favour of comedy as the full strangeness of the MCU is embraced. The direction is consistently great throughout and seems to push each scene to perfection.
I do, however feel that it could have been generally improved in a few specific places. First, I feel like, though Larson’s performance was great, the character could have been fleshed out much better. Secondly, it feels like a very strange set-up for Infinity War and I’m a little worried about how Captain Marvel’s interactions with the other Avengers will be handled (though, to be fair, I had the same worries about the Guardians before Infinity War.
There were, however, many things that were great about the script. Fury’s relationship with Carol was done very well (though it seemed a little too comfortable too quickly), you don’t need to have seen all the MCU films to understand it, a plot twist that comes about half way through the film is genuinely surprising and pulled off well. Also, though this is Marvel’s first female-led film, it is not over-emphasised and the plot could have been the same if the protagonist were male.
Technicals and Music
As the film is set in 1995, it lies pretty heavily on nostalgia (which though I’m personally getting bored of, others seem to be more than happy with) and therefore has an expectedly nostalgic soundtrack (presenting a well-chosen selection of songs which can be seen below). They do, however, occasionally feel out of place given the tone of the film.
Firstly, as is always the case in the MCU, the CGI is incredibly well done and creates a stunningly colourful and creative world for the story to play out in. Secondly, the editing is good but nothing special (though, to be fair, it is still a feat to avoid errors considering the scale of the film).
The makeup is flawless throughout the film, even allowing the actors’ performances to carry emotion despite fairly heavy prosthesis. Also, the costumes are well done, especially regarding Larson’s Danvers. Her costumes are consistently good throughout, whether she is suited up or simply in her 90s attire.
Canon and Tie-Ins
As we have come to expect from Marvel films, the respect for the canon and attention to making everything tie in perfectly was flawless. The film even provides a good bit of backstory for a few unexplained parts of MCU history.
In summary, Captain Marvel continues Marvel’s series of slam-dunk successes with a pretty great film. Though it is not a perfect film by far, it introduces some layered, interesting characters and a great new hero to be carried forward into the modern-day MCU. I would especially recommend a cinema visit for this (as with many superhero blockbusters) as the experience was really great and some moments will likely fall flat if the film is watched alone.
I hope you liked this review and be sure to check out more of our content at ScreenHub Entertainment such as my spoiler-free review of Rafiki and our review of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.