Monday, November 13, 2023

The Marvels


Based on the Marvel Comics series, The Marvels is the story of Captain Marvel who finds herself dealing a new conflict but also a wormhole that allows to swap places with two others through using their powers in both Monica Rambeau and Ms. Marvel as the trio team up. Directed by Nia DaCosta and screenplay by DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik, the film is a sequel to the 2018 film in which Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers not only teams up with her late best friend’s daughter but also a young teenager who also has powers of her own to deal with a major threat that wants to destroy the universe over something that Danvers did as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers is once again played by Brie Larson with Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. Also starring Zawe Ashton, Park Seo-joon, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Gary Lewis, Lashana Lynch and Samuel L. Jackson returning as Nick Fury. The Marvels is an exhilarating and extremely fun film from Nia DaCosta.

Set years after an event on the planet of Hala in which Carol Danvers destroyed the Supreme Intelligence, the film revolves around a new Kree extremist who has found a bangle that can allow her to create wormholes in the hope of gaining resources from other planets to save Hala after a civil war had left the planet barren while also hoping to destroy Danvers. It is a film that has Danvers deal with not just the consequences of her actions against the Kree but also having to team up with two others in stopping this person from destroying the universe. Even as it also forces her to deal with other things in her life while also making discoveries that would allow her to make some serious changes. The film’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it opens with the new Kree leader Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) who had found a Quantum Band as she is confronted by Danvers only for something to happen in which she gets entangled with both Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan who all switch places for due to Danvers’ encounter with Dar-Benn.

Throughout the script, there is tension hinted between Carol and Monica as it relates to the fact that they hadn’t seen each other in years as well as the fact that Monica is still dealing with the loss of her mother Maria (Lashana Lynch). Yet, it is Kamala that would help them sort their issues out as both Carol and Monica would meet Kamala’s family as does Nick Fury who would take them to the S.A.B.E.R. space station as it would add some humorous moments between Fury and the Khans. For a film that does have some serious stakes as it plays into Dar-Benn’s quest, the script does manage to not take itself seriously as it plays into some of Danvers’ other lives in other planets including one called Aladna where its citizens talk through singing as Carol is very famous in the planet. It is among some of the odd and hilarious moments in the film as the script does try to balance the tone of seriousness and humor though some of it isn’t perfect but there is still a lot of weight into the story.

Nia DaCosta’s direction is stylish as it does blend into many genres such as comedies, drama, action, suspense, hand-drawn animation in a brief sequence by senior animator Josh Janousky and lead animator Nicholas St. Clair, and Bollywood-inspired musicals as it plays into these different worlds that Danvers, Rambeau, and Khan would encounter. Shot largely on various studios in the U.K. as well as additional locations in Tropea, Italy and Los Angeles, DaCosta does create something that feels loose in its presentation as well as otherworldly considering the many places the characters go to. There are some wide and medium shots that play into the scope of the different planets and places these characters go to yet DaCosta grounds the film with its emphasis on family as well as playing to what is at stake. Notably as it involves a flashback in which Dar-Benn witnessed Danvers destroying the building where the Supreme Intelligence is held as it plays into her own legit grudge as it lead to Hala in a barren state with a civil war emerging. Danvers’ actions towards Hala do lead to consequences as well as why she and Monica became estranged where the two and Kamala would go to a Skrull colony where things go wrong due to Danvers’ involvement.

While the film is uneven in its approach to its different genres, DaCosta does however keep things exciting as well as knowing when to be serious as well as not to be serious. Most notably a subplot in which Fury takes the Khans to his space station where something serious does happen as it relates to Goose and the many people at the space station when it gets threatened by Dar-Benn. Its third act does take place around Earth as it relates to what Dar-Benn wants and what she can get with the quantum band that Kamala has gotten from her grandmother. Yet, the eventual confrontation between Dar-Benn and the Marvels has a lot at stake but it comes with an aftermath which forces Carol to confront her mistakes as well as realize what is more important. Even as it would also play for a couple of key events in one post-credits scene and an ending that would involve something big. Overall, DaCosta crafts a compelling and exciting film about a trio of women with superpowers who team up to save the universe from a Kree extremist who wants to save her home planet by any means necessary.

Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its vibrant usage of colors in the way scenes on Earth and Aladna are shot along with low-level lighting for the scenes in Hala and parts of outer space. Editors Catrin Hedstrom and Evan Schiff do excellent work with the editing with the usage of split-screens, jump-cuts, and other stylish cuts to play into the humor, action, and suspense. Production designer Cara Brower, along with set decorators Jille Azis, Fergus Clegg, and Naomi Moore plus supervising art directors Andrew Bennett, Ben Collins, and Andrew Palmer, does amazing work with the look of the film from the different planets the characters go to as well as the interiors of the S.A.B.E.R. space station, as well as the home of the Khan family. Costume designer Lindsay Pugh does incredible work with the film’s costumes from the suits that the Marvels wear as well as many clothes that the citizens of Aladna wear including a special dress Danvers wears as well as the uniforms the people at S.A.B.E.R. wear.

Hair/makeup designers Sian Wilson and Wakana Yoshihara, along with special makeup effects designer David White, do fantastic work with the many different looks of the alien creatures including the Kree and Skrulls as well as Carol’s own different hairstyle during her time at Aladna. Special effects supervisor David Watkins, along with visual effects supervisor Tara DeMarco and Sarah Eim, does terrific work with the special effects in the way some of the powers from the Marvels are displayed as well as the look of outer space in other parts of the film along with the design of some of the Flerkens that would appear in one of the most hilarious sequences ever on film. Sound designer Tim Nielsen, along with sound editors Addison Teague and Katy Wood, does superb work with the sound in the way Dar-Benn’s weapon sounds when it lands on the ground as well as other sound effects to play into the action and suspense along with some natural sounds for some of the humorous moments in the film.

The film’s music by Laura Karpman is phenomenal for its mixture of orchestral flourishes with Bollywood-inspired pieces as well as themes that are full of bombast along with some somber pieces and choir pieces in which is a key factor for the scenes in Aladna as it is one of the standout cuts in the film’s music score. Music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun music soundtrack as it features a diverse array of music from M.I.A., Skrillex with Missy Elliott and Mr. Oizo, the Beastie Boys, James Murphy, a couple of score pieces by John Ottman, and a hilarious usage of Memory sung by Barbra Streisand.

The casting by Sarah Halley Finn is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Leila Farzad and Abraham Popoola as a couple of S.A.B.E.R. officers working directly with Fury, Daniel Ings as the Kree scientist Ty-Rone, Gary Lewis as the Skrull leader Emperor Dro’ge who runs a Skrull colony until he is threatened by Dar-Benn, the cats Nemo and Tango as Carol’s pet Flerken Goose, Lashana Lynch in a flashback scene as Monica’s mother Maria during a memory entanglement with Carol, and Tessa Thompson in a special appearance as Valkyrie who helps Carol out after a serious event involving the Skrulls. The trio of Saagar Shaikh, Mohan Kapur, and Zenobia Shroff as Kamala’s family in their respective roles as her older brother Aamir, father Yusuf, and mother Muneeba are a joy to watch as a family who would have their own dangerous encounter with a couple of Kree soldiers while traveling to space where they help Fury as they add a lot of humor to some of the chaos that occurs in the film. Park Seo-joon is superb in a small role as the Prince of Aladna in Yan as a leader whom Carol knows as he helps out as he provides a lot of charm and humor though it is a very small role that is fun to watch as it needed more of him.

Samuel L. Jackson is great as Nick Fury as the head of S.A.B.E.R. who works closely with Monica while he deals with this new threat to the universe as he also has some funny moments in his encounter with the Khan family as well as Goose where he gets more than he bargains for with what is happening with Goose. Zawe Ashton is excellent as Dar-Benn as the new Kree revolutionary who has a legitimate grudge towards Danvers after witnessing the event that lead to Hala into a civil war as she is determined to save her planet with the help of the Accuser hammer. While it is a character that isn’t fully-fledge in the writing, Ashton does bring in a lot of emotional weight to her performance as someone who is desperate to save her world by destroying other planets.

Finally, there’s the trio of Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. Vellani’s performance as the 16-year old Pakistani high school student from Jersey City is full of delight and charisma as someone who is a total fangirl of Danvers while also is aware of the seriousness of what is happening as she brings in a sense of joy but also someone who knows how to keep everyone together. Parris’ performance as Rambeau, whose late mother was Danvers’ wing-woman in the air force as Danvers was also considered to be her aunt, is full of complexities as someone that isn’t eager to deal with Danvers over some personal issues while is also still trying to figure out her own powers.

Larson’s performance as Danvers is fascinating as someone still trying to regain lost memories but also has become distant in some ways where she also deals with her actions from the past. Larson also displays some humor and wit into the performance as well as facing revelations of her own faults as it relates to Dar-Benn. Larson, Parris, and Vellani together make this tremendous trio that all bring in the best of each other as they are the highlight of the film.

The Marvels is a marvelous film from Nia DaCosta that features a trio of great performances from Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani as the titular group. Along with its supporting ensemble cast, colorful visuals, high stakes, its humor, and an exhilarating music soundtrack. It is a film that knows when to not take itself seriously and know when to be serious though the overall results aren’t perfect yet DaCosta does manage to craft an entertaining and engaging film about three ladies saving the universe. In the end, The Marvels is a remarkable film from Nia DaCosta.

Nia DaCosta Films: (Little Woods) – (Candyman (2021 film))

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: 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 - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Eternals - Spider-Man: No Way Home - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - Thor: Love and Thunder - Werewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 - (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)

Phase 6: – (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)

© thevoid99 2023


Brittani Burnham said...

I liked this too. It's not top tier Marvel but it's nowhere near as bad as others are saying.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I wasn't expecting top-tier Marvel but I had a lot of fun watching this and I laughed a bunch of times during the film. Plus, I like a lot of those characters.