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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 10, 2019

Captain Marvel Movie Review: Fairly Good But Not As Well Made As DC's Wonder Woman

THERE HAVE been many Captain Marvels (he’s also been portrayed as a man) in the history of Marvel Comics, but the first one as a woman was written by the late Stan Lee and Gene Kolan appeared in 1967 as Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree Militia. The second Captain Marvel came in 1982 with a female cop from New Orleans named Monica Rambeau (who now appears as the black best friend of Captain Marvel in the new movie). There were four other variations until Carol Danvers appeared in 2012 as Ms. Marvel and this is now the character used in the first Marvel movie with a female superhero playing the title role.

The new movie stars Brie Larson (Oscar best actress for “Room”) as Carol Danvers and the movie sets up the forthcoming sequel to “Avengers: Infinity War” which is titled “Endgame”. The film starts in 1995 in the planet of the Kree Empire called Hala. Vers (Brie) is a soldier who has amnesia and can’t remember anything from her past. She has been trained by Yon Rogg (Jude Law), a Kree commander, to hone her abilities and powers. Their enemies in an interplanetary war are the Krulls, aliens with the ability to be shape shifters who can copy the appearance of anyone they fancy.

During a mission, Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendehlson) captures Vers but she manages to escape in a pod and crashes down in a Blockbuster Video store in Los Angeles, where she meets SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, whose looks are made much younger here through CGI). Vers recovers a crystal that contains her past memories and learns that she is a former U.S. Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers who’s been presumed dead for six years. She’s thought be dead after an experimental engine designed by Dr. Wendy Lawson (Anette Bening) went wrong and explodes.

Vers recognizes Dr. Lawson as the woman she sees in her recurrent dreams. She and Fury then go to visit her friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), in Louisiana. Talos arrives and reveals that the Skrulls are actually refugees being persecuted by the Krees and they’re just looking for a new home. Carol got all her cosmic powers (her firsts can launch explosive bursts of energy) when Lawson’s plane developed for project Pegasus crashed and she absorbed its energy core during the explosion.

Talos leads them to a ship encircling the earth where they get the Tesseract, the source of the energy core which they hide inside a cat called Goose, who scratched Fury’s face causing him to be blind in one eye, which explains why he’s wearing an eyepatch even in previous Marvel movies to which this is a prequel.

Carol gets to master all her superpowers and even destroys the ballistic missiles fired by a Kree official known as Ronan the Accuser. She also uncovers all the secrets of Yon Rogg and has a final encounter with him. The end credits are then shown and, once again, don’t leave right away as there are two short previews.

In the first one, Carol as Captain Marvel is shown appearing to Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johanson as Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Incredible Hulk and Don Cheadle as War Machine. In the final short clip, we see the cat Goose on top of Nick Fury’s desk as it vomits out the Tesseract.

Marvel has been giving breaks to new directors like Taika Waititi in “Thor Ragnarok” and Ryan Coogler in “Black Panther” (both big hits). This time they give the break to indie filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (best known for “Half Nelson”, a movie for which Ryan Gosling got an Oscar best actor nomination). Their assignment is actually quite tough because superhero movies are already a dime a dozen and it’s really now a very crowded field.

Besides, DC’s “Wonder Woman” is so well crafted in coming up with an origin story for a female superhero and is truly hard to follow with its well conceived back story and mythology. We’re afraid “Captain Marvel” offers no groundbreaking efforts and fails to top or even equal that. But in fairness, the special effects in “Captain Marvel” are similarly spectacular and the acting, led by Brie Larscon, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law and Annette Bening who all have great presence, is quite solid.

Brie, in particular, gives a fully fleshed out character of intelligence, verse and determination. And yes, it pays quite a touching tribute to the late Stan Lee. Will this lead to a return engagement and a new franchise of money-making sequels? It all remains to be seen. Let’s see if “Captain Marvell” would be as big a hit in the box office as the other Marvel superheroes.