Captain Marvel Review
In the movie, Larson's character of Carol Danvers has the traditional tragic origin story, but we get to have it shown to us with a series of conflicting and confusing flashbacks, a lot of them literally happening in Danver's head, and we need the whole film to really get all of it put together (same problem for Larson' character, she needs the whole film to get it all straightened out, too). During all of this the Skrull and Kree war is starting to involve earth, and as might be expected, complications ensue.
Samuel Jackson (as Fury) and Larson have chunks of the movie all to themselves (that is, once they meet, prior to that it is Jude Law and Larson) and the dialogue is written up to give them witty lines fitted to their delivery style. Elsewhere the dialogue isn't as sharp and that's probably the weakest item of the movie when we get away from Samuel Jackson and Larson together. Accusations in some negative reviews for Captain Marvel say Larson gives a flat performance without "emotional variety" but doesn't mention how much this script boxes the character in.
The plot for Captain Marvel works like a machine, moving the story forward, and the heroes have to relocate often as there is a lot of chasing and fleeing going on. The complexities of the tale and the number of characters are handled adroitly so that clarity is maintained, something the Marvel films almost always excel at (and something DC needs to work on). A logical explanation for the power Captain Marvel wields, and what the limits are (and even an explanation for why she doesn't immediately kill everyone she punches) isn't provided, but that's a universal superhero movie problem where power is never examined but just exists like an occultic item simultaneously a secret and completely accepted by everyone.
Special effects are mostly first rate in Captain Marvel, though makeup for the Skrulls gets iffy in a few places, especially the child-age Skrulls who look like they have watermelons for craniums and the child actors sometimes move a bit wobbly because of the weight atop their noggins from the makeup.
Another complaint I saw in other reviews was that the soundtrack of the movie was loaded up with too many pop songs operating as triggers for reactions to scenes, but Captain Marvel comes nowhere near pop-song saturation of Guardians of the Gallery (which uses the device to good effect) nor does Captain Marvel get as bizarre as Suicide Squad (which has a constant stream of new pieces of pop music amid the out-of-control splicing and editing).
Altogether, Captain Marvel is well done for a Marvel movie, it smoothly fits within the series, and it introduces a genuinely unique character. Larson's character doesn't get a lot of space (she has a dilemma rooted in a flashback and this movie goes about solving it, like a TV cop show murder mystery).
Maybe the sequel will take the path of adding depth to the character, though I doubt it, not because of anything to do with the actress or character but because of how Marvel makes their movies, and sequels feature newer, bigger problems to fight through, the first film being the one used to establish the character. Perhaps that is where Captain Marvel fails, the story is sandwiched into the Marvel mythos too well and the main character needed more story-time to be the raison d'etre under the title.
Original Page May 2019 | Update April 2020