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Film review: ‘Captain Marvel’ soars

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Last weekend, Marvel movie fans lined up for the latest installment in the massive, ongoing epic that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With “Captain Marvel,” directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the ongoing series of interconnected films gets the final piece of the puzzle before the much-anticipated “Avengers: End Game,” which lands next month, and will reportedly bring the current storyline to some sort of close. As anyone knows who saw “Avengers: Infinity War,” which ended with a devastating cliff-hanger, what’s needed now — to help fix everything that went bad for our heroes in that film — is an impressive game-changer, and that game-changer is Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.

The film takes place in space and on Earth in the year 1990, when Blockbuster Video stores still existed and the famously one-eyed character of Nick Fury (played in the Marvel movies by Samuel L. Jackson) was a lot younger (special effects!) and still had both eyes. The story incorporates elements of the great interstellar war between the Kree (a race of technologically superior warriors) and just about everyone else. The Kree were first introduced in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and one character from that film makes an appearance here.

Oh, and there’s an orange cat named Goose.

This week, two reviewers from of our pool of local, millennial film critics have a conversation about “Captain Marvel,” in which they discuss what worked well, the meaning of “micro” and “Macro” characterizations, and what they hope for in the future from Carol Danvers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

‘CAPTAIN MARVEL’ (PG-13)

Amber-Rose Reed and Katie Wigglesworth

AMBER-ROSE REED: I really wanted to love this movie! And I did. I thought it was great! Entertaining, strong characters, well-paced - and had Lee Pace. Good movie.

KATIE WIGGLESWORTH: I loved it too! I went in fairly unfamiliar with Captain Marvel. She wasn’t one of the heroes that I was super familiar with, so it’s kind of in that weird in-between area where you won’t be let down on highly invested source material fan, but you’re also a lot easier to lose, not having previous knowledge of the character. But I loved it! Especially Goose. Top Gun Cat is my favorite addition to these movies.

ARR: So good.

KW: There was something special about seeing this movie on International Women’s Day. Especially knowing that – no matter how relative their size— there is a vocal section of the internet that is aggressively opposed to having female-led superhero movies.

ARR: Leading up to the movie, there were complaints about Brie Larson being too stoic or too wooden or not smiling enough - my personal favorite complaint. So, what did you think of her performance?

KW: I’ve heard quite a few people say things like that, or that Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers is distant and stiff in her presentation. I didn’t see that. I didn’t think any of it was strange or a poor acting choice, especially given what is revealed about her past and her role as a Kree soldier.

ARR: I loved the moments throughout where Carol would peek through that training. You have these moments where she’s supposed to be stern, but she’d start to smile, or she’d give a quirk of her eyebrow and be like, “Really?” I thought the performance itself had a lot of character.

KW: I think a lot of it has to do with micro-characterization. And people - especially with Marvel movies - are used to macro personality, and that’s not what we got in this movie. For me, I thought it was nice. There were definitely moments when, plot-wise, I think they could have delved deeper into some of the meatier emotional developments, especially in regards to her past. But overall I liked getting to know Carol Danvers.

ARR: As did I!

KW: Effects wise, I thought young Samuel L. Jackson looked fine. Especially considering the fact that in the last couple of movies that Marvel and Disney have “de-aged” people, I found it incredibly distracting.

ARR: I kept thinking, “Oh, it’s Sam Jackson,” and not really paying attention, which is a good sign. You’re not supposed to notice those things.

KW: I think they finally found that sweet spot of what is (mostly) believable for the human eye.

ARR: They’re making their way through the uncanny valley.

KW: I am really in love with Lashana Lynch who played Maria, Carol’s best friend, and like her, another jet pilot. She was absolutely wonderful in every scene. The friendship between Maria and Carol felt like the emotional heart of the movie to me, and their scenes were pretty much my favorites.

ARR: There’s something very touching and very grounding about it. These characters have lost each other, been apart, and that friendship effected both them and the plot itself.

KW: I think the movie did well in relationships across the board. Samuel L Jackson and Brie Larson had a wonderful camaraderie and I hope we see them together again in the next movie. We don’t really get to see Nick Fury have personal relationships with the other superheroes. This was kind of a refreshing break from the mold. A nice inverted origin story for Carol, and oddly enough, a backdoor semi-origin story for Nick Fury as well.

ARR: It is! It’s not the focus of the movie, but I really liked seeing his progression from where he is at the beginning of the movie toward what we see in the earlier Marvel movies. And it also really fits that he doesn’t have that camaraderie necessarily with everyone else. It was good to see where his sense of responsibility to the mission comes from.

KW: Nick Fury has agents. He doesn’t have friends. Carol Danvers feels like his real first friend in this series. And that was delightful. Also Nick Fury’s a cat fan! I will spoil that for the world! Nick Fury loves cats!

ARR: Everyone should know that! I really did appreciate all the relationships. They all felt real to me. I think Marvel sometimes has a villain problem but all of the antagonists in this film, whether they be villainous or not, all feel real, all relate to the people around them in ways that make sense, and all have actual character motivations. I also love what it did with empowerment. And not in a “Girl power!” sense. Not that there’s anything wrong with “Girl power,” but the fact that you can stand strong, you can go toe-to-toe, but you don’t have to play the game of your enemies. I think that’s really important.

KW: Anything else you want to say before we close this out?

ARR: I hope in the sequel we learn why Ronan always carries that war hammer. You?

KW: Just this: “Goose for Best Supporting Actor 2020!”