Captain Marvel is a wild thrill-ride full of twists and turns, with an emotional punch to provide some balance to the fun factor. The vision of directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck resulted in a smart, daring, and satisfying prequel story.
Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel) and Samuel L. Jackson’s (Nick Fury) chemistry and interactions are absolutely delightful. Ben Mendelssohn is stellar in the role of the Skrull, Talos, with a versatile performance beyond what one may expect. Lashana Lynch in the role of Maria Rambeau provides some of the film’s most touching and poignant moments. Addtionally, Akira Akbar is absolutely charming as the young Monica Rambeau, Maria’s daughter. Clark Gregg makes his return to the MCU’s big screen as Agent Phil Coulson (albeit with limited screentime), bringing back all the humor, balanced with true emotional depth, that die-hard fans of the franchise will fondly remember from its early days. Jude Law as the Kree Star-Force commander Yon-Rogg is as charismatic as always, with Annette Benning providing yet another well-structured layer to this acting ensemble as the Kree Supreme Intelligence. I did feel that the acting talents of Djimon Hounsou (Korath), Gemma Chan (Minn-Erva), and Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser) were all underutilized, but there was so much ground to be covered in this story, that a few missteps are to be expected.
In examining the screenplay (Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet), Captain Marvel’s origin story may appear somewhat convoluted to the casual movie-goer, but those familiar with the complicated origin of this hero should be able to easily grasp the simplified version present in this film. We are provided with some answers to questions left lingering regarding the history of Captain Marvel’s character throughout the MCU, perfectly leading us into next month’s Avengers: Endgame.
Looking to technical aspects, the visual effects and CGI are exceptional, as is the norm. The art direction (supervisor Andrew Max Cahn) is gorgeous, with a vibrant color scheme in some of the cosmic, space-based moments of the story, contrasted by more toned-down, earthly colors in other sections of the narrative. The production design (Andy Nicholson) and set decoration (Laura Gaffin) are exquisitely detailed and beautifully crafted, from the secret military bases in the Mojave Desert to the Kree homeworld of Hala on the other side of the cosmos. Costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays produces everything one could hope for in a superhero film, and the hair and makeup crew contribute remarkable input as well, especially with the heavy prosthetics required to bring to life the various alien races. The cutting-edge de-aging technology enacted for Jackson and Gregg is nearly flawless in this story set a couple decades in the past.
Director of Photography Ben Davis brings you into the heart of the film, from the personal, intimate, emotional moments, to the engaging and captivating action sequences. Editors Debbie Berman and Elliot Graham were more than up to the challenge of this film’s unique storytelling method, which features multiple flashbacks and dream sequences, producing notable achievements in their roles of the filmmaking process. The sound design (David Acord) is one of the film’s most impressive aspects. I would even go so far as to say you should not be surprised to see this one garner a couple Oscar nominations next February for sound mixing/sound editing, especially with the doors opened up by the success of Black Panther this past year. The musical score (Pinar Topak) and soundtrack are energetic and adrenaline-pumping arrangements that mesh splendidly with the 90s nostalgia and ever-present pop-culture references contained within the narrative.
To sum up Captain Marvel as an amalgamation of three movies, I would describe it as Guardians of the Galaxy, meets Star Trek, meets Independence Day. Be sure to stay through the credits as always, and get there on time to see the opening credits as well; you may shed a tear or two.