Captain Marvel – An Old White Critic’s View

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is well placed in the verse to help build up the ever increasing frenzy of anticipation for “Endgame” and if one old white film critic may be so bold, it is a fine addition to the ever increasing list of Mar-vell films on offer for fans of the comic universe to view. (And yes, this is one hell of a long sentence …) Starring Brie Larson as the title character/Carol Danvers with computer ‘air-brushed’ versions of Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg and a pretty decent cameo by Annette Bening, the film; a jointly directed effort by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is a bit of enjoyable, female empowering, fun.

Jude Law, complete with yellow coloured eyes, does a brilliant turn as fellow Kree warrior Yon-Rogg and it is difficult not to fall in love with Brit actress Lashana Lynch character Maria Rambeau. This final piece of the ‘Endgame’ puzzle fits in nicely with everything leading up to the final battle of The Avengers v. Thanos and gives us a feel good factor of 100.

One does not have to be a Captain Marvel fan to appreciate this new and improved version of the superhero and if the viewer was not a Brie Larson fan going into this installment, it is almost guaranteed that they will be by the time the end credits, and the final teaser trailer roll.

One melancholic note was the opening montage of Stan Lee Marvel cameos that reminded us of the heart of Marvel’s passing. Later in the film, Stan is reading the Mallrats script – circa 1995 – a fact pointed out in other reviews, and it is a bittersweet moment indeed.

The plot is a tad convoluted, it has to be though as it is a necessary addition to the verse (film-wise) thus far and it ties everything in very nicely to the overall story-arc. But as a standalone film, Captain Marvel overachieves in terms of powerful female role models. Everyone of the feminine gender is strong and self actualized, even the baddy – Gemma Chan as the Kree warrior who ‘has never liked’ Marvel, aka Vers…

Marvel looks stunning, the film, not the character – although Larson is beyond impressive as the title character. The set pieces and the scenery, which is most likely CG but looks brilliant in spite of its computer origins, are gorgeous and the characters all step out smartly to add a lot to the existing story.

(It has to be pointed that “Endgame” intrudes through the entire film, one cannot help but overthink the entire installment and wonder just how, or when, the timeline will marry up with the whole Thanos storyline. It takes the time-travel theory and stands it on its head but also makes one wonder if this is even a factor when the cinema airs the latest installment of the Spiderman franchise trailer after he “dies’ in “Infinity War.”)

At two hours and three minutes the film does drag a bit at the start, but, and this is a big but, it is necessary to set up the main character’s personality and to show what a prig Jude Law’s character is. (Without revealing too much about the plot, it is sufficient to say that Yon-Rogg is an insufferable arse…)

Captain Marvel takes a lot of nods and winks, not least of which is Nick Fury’s “Marvel” line, and one can literally see a load of homages in the film. Groot-like death dealing by the cat is only one of the nods given to other films in the verse. It is all good fun and while there are some extemporaneous and downright slow bits in the film, it is greater than the sum of its parts.

This is a full five star addition to the Marvel-verse and one that must be seen prior to the final installment of Infinity Wars – aka Endgame. Check it out before April 26 and the big battle between our Marvel heroes and Thanos…

Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con Lessons Learned and People Met

Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con Lessons Learned and People Met

This last article about the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con will talk of lessons learned about the entire fun and exhausting process and about some of the wonderful people met, both in costume and not. It will also feature a few more photos from the three-day event.

Thor: The Dark World Not Too Dark (Review)

Thor: The Dark World Not Too Dark (Review)

With the release date of the blu-ray and DVD of this film looming ever closer – the official date is February 25 – it seems a good time to have another look at this newest tale of the Asgardian hero with a big hammer; Thor: the Dark World takes place immediately after Thor and Loki depart earth for Asgard at the end of The Avengers, but, not before Odin (Anthony Hopkins) gives a history lesson about the Dark Elf Malekith; the story is grim, but the film itself is not too dark. Touches of humor are riddled throughout the film almost as if the director took notes from the master of humorous storytelling and director of The Avengers Joss Whedon.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T.R.A.C.K.S. Stan Lee and Tears

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T.R.A.C.K.S. Stan Lee and Tears

Episode 13 of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., aptly titled T.R.A.C.K.S., was a nice change in pace with its Stan Lee cameo and even some tears by the show’s end. Unfortunately, however entertaining it was to see good old Stan “the man” Lee and the resurgence of the show’s “big bad” the Clairvoyant, aka the mysterious head of Centipede; the show still hasn’t picked up much in the way of pace.

The Amazing Spiderman (2012): A New Beginning

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Like many other fans of Sam Raimi‘s Spiderman films, I was not just outraged at the news of a re-make, but shocked. In my mind Raimi is the King. I’ve been a devoted fan since his Evil Dead days. I felt that his pairing of Toby McGuire (who I admit would not have been my choice to play Peter Parker) and Kirsten Dunst with the memorable villains of each film were the pinnacle of perfection in the Stan Lee verse.

Tonight I watched the Blu-ray copy of Mark Webb’s The Amazing Spiderman and amazingly (you see what I did there) I was entertained. I can’t say that I loved Webb’s casting choices over Raimi’s (although to be honest once you get Parker out-of-the-way, the film focuses on his romance with Gwen Stacy who was, of course, pre-Mary Jane) but the pairing of  Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone  worked brilliantly.

I can’t really complain about the change in the basic verse of Spiderman though. If Stan Lee can do a cameo in the film (and my goodness, it was brilliant) then he must not have thought too badly about the altering of Peter Parkers back story. I read the Spiderman comics almost religiously when I was a kid and I don’t remember any back story elements that included Pa Parker being a scientific genius. I may be wrong, but I don’t remember that at all.

Gwen and Peter in a "tender" moment.
Gwen and Peter in a “tender” moment.

Still the story works well for the film and apart from my being yanked completely out of the verse when I saw Sally Field  as Aunt May, I enjoyed the plots mechanisation’s. Martin Sheen  as Uncle Ben was an admirable choice as they obviously could not get Cliff Robertson. Sheen is as close to Hollywood royalty as you can get these days. It is probably my age that causes the Sally Field rift; I still remember her as Gidget and The Flying Nun, not to mention Frog in the Smokey and the Bandit pictures. She doesn’t look a whole lot older either.

It was really good to see actor  C. Thomas Howell in a “critical” cameo. The last film I saw him in was so far down the alphabet that it could not even be rated as a ‘B’ film. Great to see him back in a major motion picture where he belongs. Seeing the film on Blu-ray made me realise that I should have taken a chance and seen it in the theatre. The CGI looks brilliant and the stunts played very well, despite a little “ropey” wire work.

I was also pleased to see Denis Leary as Gwen’s dad. He’s looking older (aren’t we all) and still looks good on the big screen. All in all the cast was excellent and Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt “The Lizard” Connors rocked it. Again great CG on his ‘stump’ and his Lizard-man transformation. He managed to elicit sympathy as the man who so desperately wants to help mankind and regrow his missing limb.

Emma Stone doing what she does best.
Emma Stone doing what she does best.

Andrew Garfield as Peter “Spiderman” Parker does a great job. He has a sort of old-fashioned look to him. My daughter Meg at one point in the film said he made her think of Anthony Perkins. After a moment or two of watching him, I had to agree. Emma Stone continues to act her socks off and still look so damned beautiful it hurts. She’s making a career of playing the girl who is a Geek’s dream and she does it well.

I always count on how well a film has done if I feel euphoric or teary at the film’s end. In the case of The Amazing Spiderman, I felt euphoric. In fact I think that was my feeling about the film overall. It is well paced and damned funny in places. It kept me glued to the screen and my attention never wandered for one moment.

So I have decided that there is room for both Raimi’s Spiderman and Webb’s Spiderman. I’ll just think of Webb’s as a new beginning for the verse and set back, eat my popcorn and cheer for old ‘Spidey.’ Oh and continue to look for Stan “The Man” Lee’s future cameos.

Stan "The Man" Lee in his best cameo to date.
Stan “The Man” Lee in his best cameo to date.