Humor, sweetness empower ‘Captain Marvel,’ a fun ’90s superhero throwback

'Captain Marvel' is an aimless superhero slog

"Captain Marvel" is not the first female-led superhero movie.

While the good reviews veer closer to the centre of the critical aisle, highlighting the film's pleasures while reserving some space for their issues with the pacing and the plot, the negative reviews go all out.

From both a toy-selling and a storytelling standpoint, the fact that the movie's title character never is referred to by anyone as "Captain Marvel" is odd, but not unprecedented.

Zoom forward and we finally get to meet the mysterious Captain in the new film Captain Marvel. She also reconnects with her Earth BFF Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Maria's cute-as-a-button 11yo daughter Monica (Akira Akbar). That's tens of millions more than the initial estimates, so it looks like Brie Larson's Carol Danvers is quickly going to quickly join the club of Marvel Studios superheroes who prove to be a reliable draw at the box office. After a slow build-up, once Captain Marvel starts to grasp her powers and untangle her past, the film soars, delivering in terms of epic action and emotional resonance. Larson and Jackson are hilarious in what's a bit of a mismatched duo. [.] As soon as she meets Jackson's Fury - the character's just beginning his career as a government agent, and is called upon to investigate her unexpected arrival - things click into place; the two actors have an easy, amusing chemistry, and the film nicely balances saving-the-day-swooping-around with charming character bits. As far as Captain Marvel's detractors are concerned, DC's surprise critical and commercial hit has rather beaten Marvel's big-screen heroine to the punch; Lopez criticises the film for its political weakness in the face of Wonder Woman's overt feminism.

Let's be clear: Brie Larson is the very definition of Captain Marvel.

Instead, they're about providing two hours of breezy popcorn movie fun sprinkled with a few surprises and a deft handling of increasingly complex universe lore (pro tip: you may want to revisit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 before watching this one). There is a scene late, when Larsen conveys Vers' realization of who she is and the strength she had all along, that is as emotionally powerful as any in a Marvel movie.

'Captain Marvel' is an aimless superhero slog
'Captain Marvel' flies into Marvel's elevated expectations

When Carol ends up pursued by some of those shifty Skrulls on Earth, she strikes an alliance with the pre-Avengers (and still two-eyed) S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, played with his usual appealingly wry hamminess by a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson. As an adult, I've come to enjoy most comic book adaptations.

The much-hyped '90s setting works best as a background, and the film is at its weakest when it pushes too hard for nostalgia. "Those are things that I learned from her". The scenes with Maria and Vers are indeed handsome moments as we get to see their special bond of sisterhood and friendship.

A big draw for the duo was the casting of Larson, as the idea of her playing Danvers was "magnetising" to them. Her role on this team is simple-stop the rival alien race The Skrulls from expanding their empire through terrorism.

"We're telling a female story, but it's not good enough to just be like, 'You just hired a female lead and then we did it!'", Larson said. The screenplay, by a mostly female quintet that includes co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, also gets a bit hazy with the nature of Marvel's powers, although they certainly blossom during the course of this origin story.

We'll just have to wait and see how numerous Marvel-verse mysteries are solved when Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel hits Aussie cinemas on March 7th. Annette Bening does double duty as research scientist Dr. Wendy Lawson and the avatar that embodies Carol's most admired person whenever she's jacked into the Kree's Supreme Intelligence matrix.

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