Saturday, March 09, 2019
Based on the Carol Danvers comic series by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan and the Captain Marvel comic series by Gene Colan and Stan Lee from Marvel Comics, Captain Marvel is the story of an alien warrior who has arrived on Earth to find some alien beings where she finds herself dealing with images that possibly relate to her past. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and screenplay by Boden, Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Jac Schaeffer from a screen story by Nicole Perlman, Joe Shrapnel, and Anna Waterhouse, the film is an origin story of sorts of how Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel as she tries to figure her identity and role in this intergalactic conflict as she is portrayed by Brie Larson. Also starring Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, McKenna Grace, Akira Akbar, Clark Gregg, Annette Bening, Jude Law, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Captain Marvel is an adventurous and exhilarating film from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
It’s 1995 as a conflict between an elite group of alien warriors known as the Kree and an alien faction of shapeshifters known as Skrulls is heating up as a young Kree warrior named Vers is fighting the Skrulls where she lands somewhere in Los Angeles just as the Skrulls have also landed on Earth disguising themselves as humans. It’s a film that has this young woman who is dealing with images that could be lost memories as she finds herself on Los Angeles after a battle with Skrulls on their ship as it lead to all sorts of question. The film’s screenplay by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Jac Schaeffer, with additional contributions by Bek Smith, does play into many of the tropes and schematics expected in a superhero film that is a part origin story as well as a part fish-out-of-water scenario. Even as it has twists and turns as it relates to this conflict between two alien races as this young warrior in Vers is haunted by what could be memories of a previous life as she would later learn to be a former Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers.
The first act does have this strange narrative as it relates to Vers living in Kree’s home planet of Hala as she is mentored and train by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who tells her to keep her emotions in check as she is still dealing with her powers and is becoming unsure due to the images in her head. Once she lands on Earth at a Blockbuster video store, she would meet S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury who had been through a lot and thought he had seen it all until he sees what Vers is about as well as getting his first encounters with Skrulls as the second act is about the two teaming up together to discover a project called Pegasus created by Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) who looks similar to the projection of Kree’s ruler known as Supreme Intelligence. It is also where Vers learns about her true identity as well as the events into what happened to her as well as more revelations about this conflict between the Kree and Skrulls.
The direction of Boden and Fleck does play into what is expected in a superhero film that is partially set in space but it is grounded with some dramatic elements that play into Vers’ journey as well as discovering her true identity. Shot on various locations in Los Angeles, parts of Southern California and Louisiana, the film does play into a world that is quite vast that Vers is a part of from the planets she’s in such as Hala and a border planet that play into this war between the Krees and Skrulls though not much established into the root of their conflict at first. The direction does become straightforward once Vers arrives on Earth and has to find the Skrulls as well as Boden and Fleck use some wide shots to establish the locations as well as the vast world of the universe and its surroundings. Even in scenes where Vers is meeting the Supreme Intelligence as an image that one would believe to be the Supreme Intelligence to be as it’s in this surreal world that bends the idea of reality and fantasy.
Much of Boden and Fleck’s direction emphasizes more on simple shots through close-ups and medium shots that include scenes of Vers and Fury trying to find some clues as they’re later joined by a mysterious cat named Goose as they also try to fight off against the Skrulls while Vers is making contact with Yon-Rogg through some 1990s tech that is barely working. The stuff involving 1990s technology is definitely played for laughs in how slow they were back then as the humor also play into Fury’s first interaction with the Skrulls and him getting to understand a world that is bigger than just Earth. Still, Boden and Fleck do become concerned with Vers coming to terms with her identity as she would meet Danvers’ friend in a former pilot in Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) who would tell Vers what happened as it would relate to something much bigger relating to the Kree/Skrulls conflict. It would force Vers to not only accept what happened to her but also realize what needs to be done to save the universe. Overall, Boden and Fleck craft a compelling yet exciting film about an alien warrior who learns about her true identity in an intergalactic conflict.
Cinematographer Ben Davis does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with the straightforward and sunny look of the daytime exteriors in California to the more naturalistic look of the scenes in Louisiana as well as some stylish lighting for some of the spaceship interiors. Editors Elliot Graham and Debbie Berman do terrific work with the editing as it has some stylistic usage of slow-motion shots and some quick-cuts to play into the action and some of the suspense and humor. Production designer Andy Nicholson, with set decorator Lauri Gaffin and supervising art director Andrew Max Cahn, does amazing work with the set design from the look of the spaceship interiors as well as the look of the archives section at a secret government facility and Rambeau’s home. Costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays does fantastic work with the costumes from the look of the Kree uniforms as well as the more casual look of the people on Earth that play into the look of the 1990s.
Key special effects makeup artist Sabrina Wilson do brilliant work with the look of the Kree aliens as well as the look of the Skrulls as well as some minimal work in the younger versions of Nick Fury and his rookie partner Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick and visual effects supervisor Christopher Townsend do incredible work with the visual effects from the look of Fury and Coulson in their younger versions in the 1990s as well as the design of some of the planets including Hala and some of the powers that Vers is able to use. Sound designers David Acord and Kyrsten Mate, with sound editor Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, do superb work with the sound as it play into the sounds of some of the spaceships, jet engines, alien weapons, and other noises that play up the world that was the 1990s.
The film’s music by Pinar Toprak is wonderful for its soaring orchestral score that play into the sense of adventure and drama that occurs throughout the film while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a killer music soundtrack that features a lot of the music of the 1990s from R.E.M., Nirvana, TLC, Salt-N-Pepa w/ En Vogue, Garbage, Hole, Elastica, No Doubt, Des’ree, and a couple of 80s songs from Heart and Lita Ford.
The casting by Sarah Finn is great as it feature some notable small roles from London Fuller and McKenna Grace in their respective roles as the 6-year old and 13-year old versions of Danvers, Algenis Perez Soto and Rune Temte as a couple of members of Yon-Rogg’s team in their respective roles as Att-Lass and Bron-Char, Azari Akbar as the five-year old Monica Rambeau, Vik Sahay and Chuku Modu as a couple of Skrulls, and Stan Lee in a cameo as himself reading a script for a film role as he is also given a fitting tribute in the film’s pre-opening logo sequence. The performances of Reggie, Archie, Rizzo, and Gonzo in their performance as the cat Goose is a total joy to watch as it’s a cat that just knows where to steal a scene as well as be powerful in its own way. Akira Akbar is terrific as Maria Rambeau’s daughter Monica who would help Vers find herself again as well as be the one to provide her with a look that would be her own.Clark Gregg is superb as a younger version of Agent Phil Coulson as a rookie S.H.I.E.L.D. agent trying to get his ropes in the job while doing things that would make him a key ally for Fury.
Gemma Chan is wonderful as a Kree sniper in Minn-Erva who has a dislike towards Vers whom she sees as a threat to her position with Yon-Rogg. Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace are fantastic in their respective roles as Korath and Ronan the Accuser in their early versions as two Kree figures who art part of the conflict with Korath being Yon-Rogg’s second in command and Ronan as a high-ranking official hoping to destroy the Skrulls. Annette Bening is excellent in her dual role as the artificial intelligence leader of the Kree known as Supreme Intelligence as she is who Vers sees during their meetings while Bening also plays a scientist in Dr. Wendy Lawson who was conducting a major experiment known as Pegasus that is key to what happened to Danvers. Lashana Lynch is brilliant as Maria Rambeau as Danvers’ long-time friend and wing-woman who hadn’t seen Danvers in a long time as she tries to help her regain her identity but also get back in the game of flying. Ben Mendelsohn is amazing as the Skrull leader Talos who disguises himself as then-S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Keller where he plays a straight-laced official trying to defuse the situation with the Skrulls while he displays more humor and reason as Talos as someone who is complex but also has valid reasons for his issues with the Kree.
Jude Law is marvelous as Yon-Rogg as a Kree military leader who leads a band of mercenaries as he is also Vers’ mentor where he tries to get her to control her emotions while is also hiding some secrets about her. Samuel L. Jackson is remarkable as a younger version of Nick Fury who was then a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that believes he’s seen it all and isn’t the cynic that audiences would know him for in other films as someone that is upbeat as well as having a soft spot for cats. Finally, there’s Brie Larson in an incredible performance as Carol Danvers/Vers/Captain Marvel as a Kree warrior who is troubled by images that could be past memories of a pilot named Carol Danvers as she struggles with her identity and her role in a conflict as it’s a performance full of charm, determination, and drive as it’s one of Larson’s finest performances to date.
Captain Marvel is a marvelous film from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck that features a sensational performance from Brie Larson in the titular role. Along with its ensemble cast, sprawling visual effects, quirky humor, themes of war, and a killer music soundtrack. It’s a film that delivers in what is expected in a superhero film as well as provide some ideas of an intergalactic world set during the 1990s despite a few issues with the script. In the end, Captain Marvel is a remarkable film from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Films: Half Nelson - Sugar (2008 film) - It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Mississippi Grind – The Auteurs #71: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Avengers: Endgame - (Spider-Man: Far from Home)
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