Captain Marvel ★★

The 21st instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the penultimate feature in their Phase 3 plan, and the final stop on the road to Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel welcomes another superhero into its family and applies the same formula that Marvel Studios has relied on to manufacture their episodic products but their latest is also their weakest film in years that never truly realises its full potential.

Set during the mid-1990s, the story follows Carol Danvers who has extraordinary powers at her disposal but no recollection of who she is or where she comes from. However, when she crash-lands on Earth after a recent mishap, she begins tracing her step towards her origins in order to unravel her identity, finds assistance from a low-level bureaucrat working for an espionage agency, and discovers a secret that unlocks her full potential.

Written & directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, the first act of Captain Marvel is a mess that tries to acquaint the viewers with its own world yet hurries through it in a way that leaves the audience confused. The story begins to take some shape once the plot moves to Earth but other than the back-n-forth banter between its primary characters, there isn't really anything that's appealing or refreshing about it.

That montage of snippets from Carol Danvers' past in which she is told by others that she can't do anything, she is no good, she is weak, she doesn't belong & she will never make it will reverberate with many, and it is a welcome element in the picture. But instead of digging deeper into this aspect, the filmmakers head for a rather simplistic approach and narrate the story with half-hearted zealousness.

The action segments are seldom impressive, storytelling is very basic, predictable & bereft of surprises, and some key moments are executed in a rather lacklustre fashion. Editing paces the plot inconsistently, fails to provide a rigid structure to it, and splices together action scenes so monotonously that they are missing the sense of wonder & excitement. The score is fine but only a few incorporated songs work out in its favour.

Coming to the performances, Captain Marvel packs a talented cast in Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening & Jude Law. Larson embraces the eponymous role yet it is her fine rapport with Jackson that stands out more than her individual input. But it's Mendelsohn who impresses the most, delivering a compelling performance that only gets better as plot progresses.

On an overall scale, Captain Marvel is enjoyable to an extent, packs few amusing moments, and features a marvellous superheroine. Like Carol Danvers, this film had limitless potential. But unlike her, the filmmakers fail to tap into that element and possibly weren't even aware of what was up for grabs here. Generic, mundane & underwhelming, Captain Marvel isn't the film that the most powerful superhero in Marvel faction deserves, and is no match to the studio's finest efforts.

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