March 18, 2019 – Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the whole Marvel movie juggernaut in 2008 with a self-assured, wise cracking style, elegantly mixing humor and drama. In the 11 years since, there have been some female superheroes too, Wonder Woman being the most successful, but none had the attitude of Iron Man, or Ant-Man, for that matter.
That all changed with the release of Captain Marvel. Here we have a woman superhero, who has that test pilot swagger that says, “Don't underestimate me, because I'm the best that's ever been.” She's not stiff and formal. She's not overly serious. She doesn't act like she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. She cracks wise and kicks ass, like Iron Man does.
It helps, of course, to have an Academy Award winning actress, Brie Larson, playing the title role in this movie. Larson walks this tightrope between comedy and drama flawlessly in a journey of self discovery, first as an alien, Vers, in the Kree Empire's (as seen in “Guardians of the Galaxy”) Starforce, and later, on earth, where she discovers her true identity, and the genesis of her awesome superpowers.
A series of flashbacks is used to reveal memories of her previous life. I found this business of jumping back and forth in both time and space somewhat hard to follow at first, and this certainly breaks up the film's narrative momentum, but all becomes clear later on. Vers' Kree mentor and Starforce commander, Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law of “Side Effects”) plays a big role in the film from beginning to end. The main part of the story is set in the year 1995.
The film opens on Hala, the home planet of the Kree empire, but most of the important parts of the story happen right here on good old planet earth, where at least one Kree scientist, Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Benning of “Being Julia”) had gone into hiding in the past, working on a secret project of great interest to the Kree. This project is connected to Vers, and the Kree want to use her to somehow unlock this secret research.
The Kree aren't the only people looking for the secrets related to the work of the late Dr. Lawson. Shape-shifting aliens called Skrulls, are also after it. All these aliens fighting amongst themselves attract the attention of SHIELD agents Nick Fury and Phil Coulson (Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg, reprising their roles from earlier Marvel films and TV shows).
Whatever this mysterious secret research is, the Kree are scared enough by it that they decide to destroy the entire earth rather than allow it to fall into the hands of their enemies. So who is going to save the earth from a Kree invasion fleet? Captain Marvel would be a good bet, but she is helped by some old friends, like Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch) a former test pilot (and key to lost memories) and some new friends, like Nick Fury.
As you can tell from this description, this movie could probably have benefited from a less complicated plot. There is a lot going on, from memory loss, deceptions, shape-shifters, flashbacks, changing alliances, a mysterious super-cat, and so on. The one constant in the movie is Brie Larson. Her character is so engaging, I was willing to wade through this twisted plot with her. It helped having the familiar character of Nick Fury in the mix, too.
This is a new kind of female superhero, one who is fully comfortable in her own skin, a funny, casual, wise cracking, cocky superhero. She is a superhero of such fantastic power she might be able to help fix a universe broken by the super villain Thanos (as seen in “Avengers: Infinity War”). Yeah, I know, it is a lot. You have to watch a lot of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to keep up with all these details, and I have.
I enjoyed this film enough, to want to go see it again in 3D before they take the 3D away next week. The 3D looks good, by the way. It's a good superhero movie. Looking forward to “Avengers: Endgame” next month. This film rates a B.
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