Updated: Mar 22, 2020
The new "Captain Marvel" movie ranks above average as a superhero film, with humorous touches emphasizing the project's lightweight roots. Well, for some, lightweight.
"Captain Marvel" arrived with serious controversy among fanboys who felt horrified when their comic book icon transformed into a woman. In turn, star Brie Larson noticed a disproportionate number of male versus female film critics, inspiring questions about how gender influences reviews. Gender obviously affects reactions to stories, hence the term "chick flicks" and their counterparts from the male end.
Overall, I remain open to casting choices that switch the source material. Tall or short, human or alien, male or female, some roles work regardless of physical appearance. "Captain Marvel" falls in that category, and actress Larson plays the role with energetic physicality and an engaging partial smile, not quite a snicker. A snick? In any case, she plays a woman who enjoys bantering and friendly competition but willing to throw in every bit of force when jousting turns into war. Had "Captain Marvel" served as audience introduction to Larson, few would foresee a career that includes winning a Best Actress Oscar for the movie Room.
"Captain Marvel" provides the challenges of getting into terrific shape and looking good in a tight costume, but it requires little in the way of emotional range. The same goes for other top performers in the film. Anette Benning, Jude Law, and Samuel L. Jackson all provide their usual skillful screen presence without generating any thoughts of future awards attention for their work in this film. Jackson especially keeps the tone light, frequently raising his voice and eyebrows for comic emphasis.
Well-regarded acting talent follows the Marvel Studios program of top-notch production values, though oddly, "Captain Marvel's" sets and special effects look cheesier than most. Dim lighting and gray tones undermine the sharp and colorful visual qualities found in both comic books and such standout Marvel productions as Black Panther. "Captain Marvel's" numerous writers and directors focus more on story than appearances, crosscutting time periods and locations as their amnesiac lead character pieces together her past.
Audiences may share her confusion at times, but events eventually pull together for a cohesive finale that in true Marvel Studios fashion leaves room for sequels. After all, it turns out a female captain handles duties and defeats gender stereotypes. By repeatedly emphasizing resilience, "Captain Marvel" makes an effective role model for girls and boys alike.
This review was originally aired on 3/15/2019.
You can listen to it online at https://www.kunr.org/post/captain-marvel