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A New Superheroine

Saturday, March 09, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

Captain Marvel
Director:
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Jude Law and others
Rating: * * *

It is a sign of the times, and probably the result of the success of Wonder Woman, that the new Captain Marvel is a woman, played by Brie Larson. The co-director Anna Boden is a woman, partnering with Ryan Fleck.

The film is a paint-by-numbers kind of origin story, which, unfortunately suffers in comparison to Wonder Woman. It’s fairly enjoyable, but the best parts are the ones in which she is trying to figure out life on Earth in 1995—pay phones, big boxy computers, pagers (anyone remember those?) and grunge fashion.

Vers (Larson), living on Kree is a warrior, who is constantly being told by her leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) that she must not let emotions come in the way when she is fighting. Vers is amnesiac and only gets glimpses of her past, in which she sees a woman she cannot remember at all.

During a battle with the enemy, the shape-shifting Skrull, she is captured and interrogated and starts to figure out some more of what is going on. On escaping her captors, she ends up on Earth and must now try to find a way—like all superheroes—to save the world. Her ally is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who after his initial scepticism is forced to believe in aliens, when they capture one. Jackson who has playe Fury in several other films, have been ‘de-aged’ so well, that he looks decades younger. The episode of the loss of his eye is also in this film—in films set later he wears an eye patch.

The Skrull, led by Talos (Ben Mendelshon) are searching for Dr Wendy Lawson (Annette Benning), to get an invention that will help their race survive. When Vers recovers her memory, she remembers that she was a pilot, Carol Danvers, who had crashed along with Dr Lawson, and strangely acquired the superpowers that she has been ordered to control. She reconnects with her old best friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her cute-as-a-button daughter (Akira Akbar), and unscrambles her mind to understand who the enemy really is.

The Danvers-Fury scenes are funny, and when Rambeau appears there’s warmth lighting up the screen, so one does not mind the superhero stuff being kept on hold. A cat called Goose, actually becomes a scene-stealer. The best thing about Captain Marvel is the inclusivity – women and black actors in prominent roles.

Larson’s performance is a bit bland, maybe she will get the zing required by the time the next movie in the franchise comes out.

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