CAPTAIN MARVEL

Captain Marvel movie poster
A war wages in outer space between the warrior Krees and the shape-shifting Skrulls. Kree military commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) leads a team, including his superpowers endowed protégé Vers (Brie Larson), against the Skrulls and their leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). After a battle, Vers is captured. During her escape, she crashes into a Blockbuster store on Earth in 1995. Soon she's on the radar of young S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). With the Skrulls on her trail, Vers must deal with the situation while having flashes of a past life.

Solid performances and almost non-stop action keep
this standard origins story from crashing. It's no secret that Vers is former U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers and future Captain Marvel, but the fun is in learning how this all unfolds. Revealing anything else would amount to spoilers. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who also teamed for 2015's "Mississippi Grind", do a fine job of keeping this film on track. Yet the screenplay/story by Boden, Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve lacks the Marvel wow factor. Sure there are surprises, twists, a few laughs and cameos (one is bittersweet), but none are really jaw-dropping. Having a first-rate cast helps. Brie Larson is a powerful presence in the lead role and a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson is her equal. A "younger" Clark Gregg shows glimpses of who Agent Coulson will become and Jude Law makes a fearless alien military leader. There's no one better than Ben Mendelsohn at playing an adversary and he proves it again here. Adding star power is Annette Bening as the visible form of the Kree Supreme Intelligence. A memorable non-speaking role goes to a galactic feline who brings out the softer side of Nick Fury. Is this a nod to Disney's "The Cat from Outer Space"? The soundtrack, with music by Pinar Toprak, is aided by several 90s hit songs featuring bands like Garbage ("Only Happy When It Rains"). This is a big screen Marvel event (stay through the credits for crucial scenes) - just not their best effort. It feels like a primer for further adventures, but still has enough to keep the audience interested. "Captain Marvel" earns its stripes in the MCU. (3/5 CAMS)

Rated PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language)
Running Time: 124 minutes

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