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Captain Marvel **1/2

Captain Marvel herself is a bit of a bore as a lead character, but the movie is good enough to get us even more excited for “Avengers: Endgame” next month.  

Is it worth $10? Yes  

Many times when you go out to dinner you’re looking forward to the entrée, but you’re hungry, so you start with an appetizer. And it’s just okay. It satiates but it’s not impressive. With many looking forward to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s main course of “Avengers: Endgame” debuting April 26, “Captain Marvel” is a so-so appetizer that fails to impress.

It’s an origin story, told in a convoluted way, with a bland performance from Brie Larson in the lead. She’s first known as Vers, a Kree warrior who still has a lot to learn from her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). After a mission goes awry she crash lands on earth in a Blockbuster Video. It’s 1995, and she soon meets a young Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose only function is to allow people to say “hey look, it’s Coulson!”, and a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who still has two eyes. The villainous Skrulls, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), follow her to earth, needing something only she can provide.

In between fighting off Skrulls, Vers’ backstory is clumsily unveiled. She once lived on earth, was named Carol Danvers, and was an Air Force pilot. We see how she received the power to emit photon blasts from her hands, and learned how to harness her power for use against her foes. Through it all, she’s a bit of a bore. We never get a sense of what she’s like as a person. What motivates her. Makes her tick. What’s important to her, what’s not. Worse, this is not a character with inherent personality (like Iron Man), and Larson doesn’t do much to make her compelling. If Vers/Carol/Captain Marvel were more likeable, the movie would be more likeable as well.

The narrative structure doesn’t help, as the jumping timeline is overdone. What’s more, it’s hard to pack surprises into an origin story, so it’s no surprise that co-writers and directors Anna Fleck and Ryan Boden offer none. You’ll see some of the “twists” coming long before they happen, and for the ones you don’t see you’ll either 1) not care, or 2) not buy at all. Neither is a reaction the filmmakers are looking for.

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The visual effects are sufficient, not necessarily impressive. The most notable effects work is de-aging Gregg and Jackson to look 20 years younger, as we’ve seen the energy blasts, explosions and space battles plenty of times before. That said, it’s exciting to watch Captain Marvel fully embrace the extent of her power.

Mediocre an appetizer as “Captain Marvel” may be, darn if I didn’t leave the theater looking forward to how the titular figure will fit into “Avengers: Endgame.” So because it effectively serves its purpose in readying the palate for more, and not because it stands well on its own, a moderate recommendation is earned.

Did you know?
Be sure to watch the Marvel Studios colophon that opens the film – you’ll see a handful of nods to the late Stan Lee.

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