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Captain Marvel Critics Round-Up: ‘Satisfying, But Empty’

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With just two days to go until Marvel Studios’ 21st movie in their shared universe of films releases in the UK, the critics have spoken when it comes to Captain Marvel – and the results are, decidedly, mixed. Check-out a round-up of the reviews below.

The Atlantic:
“In recent years, the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe has seemed to keep finding exciting new territory to explore. As the long-running, multi-headed collection of superhero franchises rolled on, it exhibited inventive comedy in Thor: Ragnarok and Ant-Man and the Wasp, staggering scale in Avengers: Infinity War, and a genuine cultural-paradigm shift with Black Panther. With Captain Marvel, sadly, that streak is over. The 21st entry in Marvel’s galactic film empire, and the first focused on a female superhero (played by Brie Larson), is a perfectly fun time at the movies that deftly lays out the stakes of its new character for many future appearances. But more often than not, it feels a little routine.”

The Chicago Sun Times:
“This isn’t the greatest Marvel movie ever made, but it’s definitely one of the funniest — and one of the sweetest. Larson and Jackson have terrific buddy-movie chemistry, whether they’re giving each other grief or covering each other’s behinds. Amidst all the scenes with intergalactic warships and fireball-flinging, co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck wisely find plenty of room to take the foot off the accelerator and cede center stage to Larson, Jackson and the rest of the greatly talented cast. It’s a real treat to see Carol Danvers find her footing and her wings, so to speak, while at the same time Nick Fury is taking the first steps toward becoming NICK FURY.”

Empire Magazine:
“It’s the last act before this film truly lives up to its potential, but at crunch time it delivers in a more satisfying way than almost any other superhero film of recent years. Carol Danvers’ final battle offers a radical message and becomes a powerful metaphor for what could happen if we stop waiting to be told that we are enough; if we stop believing the people who tell us we’re too emotional or too weak. Captain Marvel says that, when we stop looking for approval, we can become literally godlike. This is not another cheap girl-power cliché; it’s an explicitly feminist apotheosis. Some people will find it disorientating to watch. Captain Marvel offers zero concessions to ease anyone in or win them over to Carol Danvers’ point of view. If that makes it hard for some viewers to relate to her, she’ll deal.”

The Guardian:
“This is an engaging and sometimes engagingly odd superhero action movie from directors and co-writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, a weirdly nonlinear mashup of past and present, memories and present experience, Earth and non-Earth action. It’s an unconventional origin-myth story, which makes it initially uncertain what the nature of those origins is, and maybe even whose origins exactly we’re talking about. There’s an eccentric splurge of tonal registers from boomingly serious to quirkily droll. The film hinges on a fierce performance from Brie Larson, though I think it could have showcased her in a stronger, clearer starring role and assigned her more of the script’s funny lines.”

IGN:
“The MCU’s newest hero, Captain Marvel, has entered the fray literally swinging, with a cosmic-flavored origin story that feels like a much-needed fresh approach to the classic Marvel Phase One formula. With a soundtrack packed full of vintage ‘90s earworms and a delightfully unselfconscious sense of humor, Captain Marvel pulls off a satisfying introduction to the hero who may be our Avengers: Endgame trump card.”

The New York Times:
“Filmmakers like Boden and Fleck, Ryan Coogler and Taika Waititi can put their own spin on a given story or hero, but at some point bolts or waves of orange or blue light will come shooting out of someone’s hands and someone else will be thrown backward and bounce off a wall. The protagonist’s costume will become a character in its own right. That protagonist — a tough and charming woman, in this case, determined to fight gender clichés at least to a draw — will be ready for a career of franchise clock-punching, along with the rest of us. You will stay through the very last credits in the hope of collecting every last Easter egg, and you’ll shuffle out of the theater feeling both satisfied and empty.”

Time Magazine:
“Larson does get a few opportunities in Captain Marvel to be that regular, flawed-but-strong human — there just aren’t enough of them, and they’re hardly the focus of the movie. Of course, in the broader context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is all just a setup for Captain Marvel’s role in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame. But by the time I got to the end of Captain Marvel — after watching Larson bash her way through phalanxes of wrinkled green aliens with her glowing fists, offer bathroom-mirror Post It-note words of encouragement to a little girl who beams at her adoringly, and hover in the air like Stan Lee’s version of the Blessed Virgin shimmering in the grotto before the future Saint Bernadette — I wasn’t thinking, ‘Wow!’ Instead, I heard the voice of my own inner superhero, Peggy Lee, whispering in my ear: ‘Is that all there is?’ The most heinous supervillain of all is Boredom.”

Variety:
Captain Marvel doesn’t do anything revolutionary; it’s been crafted as another clockwork piece in the Marvel puzzle (the 21st MCU film). It’s a prequel that casts its gaze way forward. Yet in its sturdy and standard-issue way, it invests Carol Danvers with a heroic majesty and heft that moves her, as a presence, right to the forefront of the series. The climactic sky battle is a spectacular vision, a Star Wars-style dogfight that takes place over sun-washed canyons, and Carol herself becomes a heroine suffused with light. She doesn’t gain any powers, but she learns, at last, how to harness them by listening to something new: the light within.”

Captain Marvel is in UK cinemas as of this Friday, and will be rated 12A.

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