Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s “Captain Marvel” is very much designed for the Marvel “nerd.” It’s a full-on cosmic orgy dabbled with nostalgia-driven details of the 1990s. This is a time-shifting space story teeming with deception at every turn, and, yet, when it reaches its finale, one feels, quite frankly, un-involved by it, hell, even bored.
After a shaky start that posits a battle in the stars, very much inspired by “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the film settles down by going back in time to Los Angeles of 1995 where, amusingly, Brie Larson is shot down from the stars into a strip mall Blockbuster Video.
Larson‘s Carol Danvers, brought up by the Krees and whose allegiance is to these space warriors, eventually teams up with a CG de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (always a welcome figure in the MCU). The film also finally explains why Fury gets that famous eye patch—nobody would guess why without watching it unfold on-screen. There’s also an excellent cameo from the late Stan Lee on a bus, reading…I won’t ruin the short but hilarious cameo.
However, 80 minutes into this formulaic Marvel flick, with surprisingly, barely a hint of progressive feminist attitude, you see the familiar wheels spinning into fruition. It’s a real let-down that the last half hour is so DC-ish, with a wam-bang lot of destruction, because the film’s middle section, with its time unraveling narrative and lost memory mystery, really had my fully-invested attention. The problem is that, as the new characters pile up, it eventually loses track of Larson a bit as it goes along. Nevertheless, playing an amnesiac for much of the movie, Larson is a sheer delight to watch on-screen, using charisma and likability to further promote the rather strained story from Boden and Fleck who also have a struggle with the action sequences.
Like most of Boden/Fleck’s work this is visually dull stuff. They love to concentrate on building incisive character development in their films, except this time around, the characters stem from a cinematic universe where there isn’t much room to manoeuvre and where the heroes are rather wooden. The MCU isn’t known for its artfully resonant depiction of character, but rather for its over-the-top visual majesty and the way an action film should look in the 21st century. Boden and Fleck cannot achieve Russo-like levels of thrills, especially with their talents laying more in minimalist indie cinema. [C+]