June 3, 2019  (Web Review)

Captain Marvel

Disney, 124 min., PG-13, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray: $39.99, June 11

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Slam! Bam! Pow! The first female-led installment in the interconnected, ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe is so action-packed that there’s barely room for a coherent origin saga. On the futuristic planet Hala, Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree soldier being trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her emotions instead of shooting powerful photon blasts from her glowing fists. When she’s captured by Skrulls (green-skinned, lizard-like, shape-shifting creatures), General Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) probes her mind for memories on primitive Planet C-53 (aka Earth). In the 1995-set backstory, Vers crash-lands through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store on C-53, wearing her spandex Starforce uniform, drawing the attention of skeptical cop Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D agent. While searching for her mentor—Tesseract inventor Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening)—amnesia-stricken Vers is reunited with her best friend, Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). Maria reveals to Vers that the latter was formerly Carol Danvers, an adventurous test pilot in an era when females were not allowed in combat. Co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, this is a sturdy, low-key, retro-nostalgic, sci-fi prequel to Avengers: Endgame in which Captain Marvel joins Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk in a battle against Thanos. Unfortunately, Oscar-winner Larson lacks superhero gravitas, looking a bit too much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A strong optional purchase. [Note: Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, deleted scenes (9 min.), the production featurettes “Becoming a Super Hero” (7 min.), “Big Hero Moment” (4 min.), “The Origin of Nick Fury” (4 min.), “The Dream Team” (3 min.), “The Skrulls and the Kree” (4 min.), and “Hiss-Sterical Cat-Titude” (4 min.), an intro (2 min.), a gag reel (2 min.), and a bonus digital copy of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for a so-so superhero flick.] (S. Granger)