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Captain Marvel

This movie opens on International Women’s Day, and the young woman I brought to this film, surprised me when we were leaving. She rolled her eyes when talking about the goofy empowerment messages the movie tried beating us over the head with.

I agreed, but was just glad it was an origin story that didn’t beat us over the head with exposition dialogue, although it’s not the most interesting of origin stories.

An incredible moment happened at the start of this movie. Since I missed the critics’ screening, I went to see it on opening night at Reading Town Square. It was sold out, and in the opening credits, with the animated Marvel comic strips that show all the other superheroes, we were instead treated to various drawings of Stan Lee. First there were a few people applauding, then the theatre abrupted with everyone cheering  loudly. It brought tears to my eyes (and yes, there is also a fun Stan Lee cameo in the movie).

This film was directed by Ryan Fleck and Anne Boden. She co-wrote the movie, and has some interesting work under her belt: Sugar, Half Nelson, Mississippi Grind, and the somewhat disappointing It’s Kind of a Funny Story. She brought her Mississippi star — Ben Mendelsohn, who was terrific in this (although when isn’t he?).

I was pleasantly surprised that as most of the movie was set in the mid-1990s, and we see a Blockbuster and Radio Shack (which got big laughs from the crowd), they didn’t try to Ready Player One us with a million ‘90s references. There were a few, and some of them brought great laughs (watching the crew sitting around waiting for a computer to dial up, and download something, rather slowly). The songs had that riot grrrl vibe, and they were all songs I like. Garbage doing “Only Happy When it Rains,” Hole, Elastica, Lita Ford,  TLC, and Heart had two songs and a T-shirt. Now, as much as I like No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” — I cringed at the scene where it played.

It’s strange that the directors, who created such interesting characters in their indie films (if you love baseball and/or sports movies, find Sugar)…that they couldn’t give Carol Danvers (Oscar-winner Brie Larson) a bit more personality. Don’t get me wrong, she’s fine when she’s kicking ass and taking names, but…Goose the cat had more personality, and got bigger laughs, then she did. And boy does Goose have some terrific scenes (and I say that as someone that hates cats).

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danvers have an easygoing chemistry that’s enjoyable to watch, and a few of their jokes land (I agree with Fury on the way to eat toast). Much like how the last Tron movie made Jeff Bridges look younger in a scene, they do that with Jackson here, to great effect. Oh, and on the subject of Jackson looking younger, you get the treat of seeing the original story on his lost eyeball. That’s worth the price of admission alone.

Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg, who is training Danvers in the beginning. They have a fight scene that’s interesting, but once the movie gets going — I grew tired of all the fighting, shooting, and dog fights in the air. I’ve just seen so many over the years, it’s gotten boring. Not to mention, the CGI wasn’t anything special.

Let’s get back to Yon-Rogg. He tells her, many times in this movie, that she needs to be able to keep her emotions in check. Uh…if this is supposed to be such an empowering movie for women, isn’t it kind of sexist to imply that women just lose their sh** all the time?

So, the story involves two worlds that are fighting. There are the shapeshifting Skrulls, who are led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). There’s that glowing box that they always need to find in these Marvel films. I’m just not keeping track well enough, to tell you what it all means. If you’re a fanboy that’s into this stuff, you’re up to speed on all that.

An actress that’s always great to see on screen — Annette Bening — shows up in different memories, as a mysterious mentor in Carol’s life, but she can’t quite figure it all out. It’s a shame she wasn’t given more to do.

Lashana Lynch plays a friend and fellow pilot, and Clark Gregg reprises his role as Agent Coulson. He plays cops and agents better than anyone else in Hollywood.

Young actress McKenna Grace (who was so great in Gifted), has a small role here.

I’m just not the right audience for these types of movies. I was lukewarm on Wonder Woman, and although I liked Black Panther, it was nothing special to me. The last two super-hero movies I loved were the last Spider-Man films.

The run time didn’t need to be over two hours, and the script was a bit clunky.

Fun fact: Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson were in another movie together, Kong: Skull Island (which wasn’t very good).

This gets 2 ½ stars out of 5.

 

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