“Captain Marvel” is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first film led by a female superhero, starring Brie Larson. It’s a plucky and pleasing, if predictable, excursion.
The movie burns brightly as a character study, driving home its female empowerment themes with needle drops of every popular hit by female- fronted ’90s rock bands. But it’s saddled with too much silly space alien mumbo jumbo.
Ray guns and spacesuits abound, especially when we first meet the powerful Vers (Larson), a member of an extraterrestrial race of noble warriors known as the Kree. The Kree wage war against the lizardy Skrull aliens. The Skrulls capture Vers in hopes of finding a mysterious energy core, and during her ensuing escape, she ends up crashing into a Blockbuster Video on Earth in the mid-’90s.
At first she’s a little like Thor, all space jargon and hubris, bashing through Los Angeles while making an unlikely ally in Special Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
She discovers through her hazy memories that she is Carol Danvers, a hot shot Air Force pilot who disappeared in a crash six years ago, leaving behind a best friend, Maria (Lashana Lynch).
Carol’s journey takes her back to herself, returning to her values, idiosyncrasies, the things that make her unique. She’s flawed, brave, quirky and deeply human. Things really get interesting when she learns to unleash her powerfully electro-charged fists.
Most importantly, she rediscovers what’s worth fighting for.
“Captain Marvel” hits every beat like clockwork, but it feels like formulaic, box-checking filmmaking.
That’s why oddball anomalies like Ben Mendelsohn’s dry, sarcastic performance as Skrull leader Talos and an overly-affectionate orange cat named Goose steal the show — they’re the only elements that are different, fun and exciting.
Academy-award winner Larson is every bit as tough, empowering and even slyly funny as expected, but what’s unfortunately lacking is the unexpected.