Captain Marvel ★★★★½

I’m not the only one who found it to be an interesting coincidence that this movie was released on International Women’s Day, right? It’s not just me. 

Okay, on to the review! (BEWARE OF MILD SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR)

Previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) saw that something catastrophic was happening when he noticed that people were starting to disintegrate into oblivion, including his top agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). This was the emergency he knew was going to prepare for, so he’s whips out a special pager and sent out a distress signal for someone very important before he himself disintegrated. They pan down to the pager and it shows the image of a insignia on a blue and red background. But who was the figure that Fury signaled for help? Who was the being that he knew could save the universe? We get the answers to those questions here in the 22nd feature film in the MCU, co-written & directed by acclaimed indie filmmaking duo Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.

We meet Vers (Brie Larson), a powerful young woman who appears to be part of the Kree, a race of superior beings. She fights for the esteemed Starforce, who dedicated to protecting their world from the shapeshifter aliens known as Skrulls, with a team led by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who trains and mentors Vers to be at the top of her game and to control her power. However, there are memories of a past she doesn’t remember that play in her mind and a figure of said past (Annette Bening) being part of those memories. Following a mission to find a Kree spy who infiltrated the Skrull stronghold, Vers is ambushed and abducted by Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) in order to look inside her thoughts to find information pertaining to the figure that’s inside her mind, who is revealed to be Dr. Wendy Carlson, who was working on a innovative lightspeed engine. Vers is able to escape from the Skrull ship via an escape pod but the pod breaks apart in pieces after being blasted with lasers and she crash lands on Terran planet C-50 (or Earth) circa 1995. She soon meets Nick Fury (Jackson), an agent of the covert organization SHIELD, and the moment he meets Vers, everything he knows about our world changes and he helps her try to piece together her past and she soon learns that she is Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers and the information she’s looking for on Carlson will reveal everything about her powers. Meanwhile, Talos and a few surviving Skrulls have made their way to C-50 and have begun to infiltrate human society. Now, with help from Fury and her best friend/fellow pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who also has some major pieces from Carol’s past, this superpowered being will go higher, further and faster to stop an incoming invasion of the planet and thwart a war that will devastate the universe and she’ll do it as the universe’s most powerful defender....Captain Marvel! 

Firstly, I got to mention the touching variation of the Marvel Studios logo that paid tribute to the late Stan Lee, who does make a terrific and final live-action cameo in the movie. Instead of the usual characters and moments from past Marvel movies like the regular version, they had this collage of Lee’s most famous MCU cameos dating back to 2008 and ending with the message, “Thank You Stan”. That and the cameo was definitely a fun and heartfelt way to send off the grandmaster of the Marvel Universe. Thank you, Stan. Thank you indeed. 

After having two back-to-back dramatic MCU movies with Black Panther and Infinity War, then having a brief reprieve of lightheartedness with Ant-Man and The Wasp before hitting us with that jaw-dropping coda towards the end, it was great to get an all-the-way-through fun MCU movie before we get to Avengers Endgame in April. It was able to have a strong balance of action, humor, fantasy, science fiction and even some emotion. Coming from the world of independent films, Boden & Fleck clearly know how to direct a big budget studio feature without even trying too hard while also adding a personal touch to the scenes involving Carol & Maria during the third act, showing a more grounded moment of friends reuniting after such a long time. In terms of the twist involving who the real villains are, I was both surprised but not surprised at the same time and I’ll leave it at that but I can tell you that the version of the Skrulls in this film really surprised me. They’re more than mere villains in this movie, that I can tell you. Plus, we get the reason why Fury’s left eye is lost and it’s crazy because the line in Captain America: The Winter Soldier made it look like there was a dark reason for losing his eye but no, it was something....well, you got to see the movie to find out because it’s ridiculous. As for the 1995 setting, speaking as someone who grew up during that time, I can tell you right now that they got everything almost right, from that moment when Carol crashes down into that Blockbuster Video to her civilian disguise (she has a flannel shirt tied around her waist and wears a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt) to the music. I say almost because there’s one piece of music placed here that shouldn’t be in the movie and that’s “Celebrity Skin” by Hole. Good song but not exactly should be placed in a movie set in 1995 since the song didn’t hit the airwaves until 1999. But other than that, it’s definitely 99% period accurate.

The majority of the performances are outstanding with Larson, Jackson, Mendelsohn, Lynch & Law succeeding with their roles. Larson & Jackson have this great rapport with each other and such a terrific chemistry together, as does Larson & Lynch, who actually proves to be very useful during the final act and is not just there to be the best friend helping to jog the main heroine’s memories. Mendelsohn’s performance as Talos is very multidimensional but I can’t speak on the performance further out of fear that it might spoil the twist of the entire movie but his performance is excellent. Meanwhile, Law does a decent job as Yon-Rogg which, again, I can’t go further than that because of the twist. While its human cast is great, the real star is Goose the Cat because he just is. I’m not a big cat person (I have nothing against cats, I just like dogs more) but Goose was that cat who stole the movie. Goose is going to be a star! 

Do I see another inductee into the FilmFreek Hall of Fame with Captain Marvel? All signs point to YES! It has everything that you would expect in a Marvel movie and then some, not to mention an engaging and exciting new Marvel hero, who will return next month for Endgame. If this movie is anything to go by, there’s only three words to say: Thanos! Is! Screwed! Check it out in IMAX, take your daughters if you’re a parent and you want to see them be empowered by another strong MCU heroine, I guarantee that you will have a blast. Also, it bears repeating: Goose is THAT cat!

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