‘Captain Marvel’ review: An aimless superhero slog


The latest instance of Marvel Studios wringing out every last drop of ink they can is “Captain Marvel.” Never heard of her? That’s because this is the character’s first appearance in a major film. Plundering the vault for lesser-known creations has paid off for the Disney-owned company so far: “Black Panther” made over $1 billion and scored a Best Picture nomination.

“Captain Marvel,” on the other hand, made an Oscar winner best known for playing a captive mother take on a role she is 100 percent wrong for while attempting to sell Jude Law to us as an action star like he’s a Louis Vuitton bag on Canal Street.

The plot is a vocabulary lesson from hell. Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) starts off as Vers, a member of an alien race called the Kree, who fights alongside her buddy, Yon-Rogg (Law), in the elite Starforce. She has the ability to shoot powerful energy beams out of her hands, but Yon is teaching her how to restrain it. Typical man!

The Kree are at war with another race called the Skrulls, baddies who wear cheap green Halloween masks and shape-shift like Robert Patrick in “Terminator 2.” During a skirmish with them, Vers winds up on planet C-53, a k a Earth.

Enlarge ImageJude Law as Yon-Rogg, Brie Larson as Carol Danvers
Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) faces off with Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) in “Captain Marvel.”Walt Disney Co. | Marvel Studios | Everett Collection
Naturally, writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s film is set in 1995 because millennials and ka-ching! Vers crash-lands on a Blockbuster Video, encounters “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Space Invaders,” Troll dolls, Windows 95 and endless other cheap nostalgia.

As we’re hounded by soulless branding, Vers is pursued by the Skrulls. On the run, she starts having flashbacks to a life on Earth in which she was a pilot named Carol Danvers, and begins to doubt her true identity and where she came from. She also meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, funny as ever), who up ’til now has never seen a superhero before.

The main Skrull chasing Vers is Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). The actor bizarrely keeps his thick Aussie accent intact beneath his rubber mask, and the character says things that aliens simply would not say, such as, “Hang on now, before you go swinging those jazz hands around!” Jazz hands?

Nearly every aspect of this film is half-baked. An anti-war message that’s introduced believes itself to be wise and sophisticated, but is actually naive and overly simple. And the movie desperately wants to be a feminist rallying cry, but does little to earn that role outside of having a female main character and playing No Doubt’s “I’m Just A Girl” during one of the fight scenes.

“Wonder Woman” smartly threw Diana into a world of oppressive (and inferior) men, allowing the character to overcome obstacles and succeed in spite of them. “Captain Marvel” throws Vers into a world of plot holes and “Happy Days” lunch boxes.