Captain Marvel

brie-larson-captain-marvel

Can Marvel make a successful comic book fantasy movie with a female lead? The answer is yes. Captain Marvel is a solid effort by all concerned. (Including the dozen or so digital effects companies I counted in the closing credits.)

Captain Marvel may not be the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie ever. And Captain Marvel may not be the greatest MCU superhero ever. But the new film starring Brie Larson accomplishes much in just over two hours.

It introduces and establishes a new movie franchise player and sets up future Captain Marvel stories. It delivers a cool backstory for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). The movie is set in the 1990s and dishes a bunch of fun nostalgia for that decade. And it features a cool cat (an actual feline) named Goose.

Action/fantasy films sometimes have pacing issues and often have effects overkills but co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck keep things moving ahead at a consistent clip, with occasional respites. And the many confrontations among characters tend to resolve within reasonable periods.

The story? Well, there’s a lot going on here. Of course, it’s always about good versus evil. But it is not always clear who is a good guy (or woman) and who is a bad egg. Captain Marvel works to solve a mystery about her own background (including her life as Air Force pilot Carol Danvers) and about a scientific discovery that Wendy Larson (Annette Bening) is developing. Carol/Captain Marvel’s time among the Kree aliens on the planet Hala is a key plot point.

Brie Larson handles all the physical tasks of playing a superhero well. She has a good head of hair, which is only reined in near the end of the movie. (Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman at least had a band across the front of her hairline when she was in action.)

The cast also includes Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn and (as Carol’s Air Force friend Maria) Lashana Lynch.

Captain Marvel should garner strong ticket sales and whet appetites for Avengers: Endgame whose release is just seven weeks away. As Black Panther showed last year, a superhero movie can be released in late winter and still attract a huge audience.

Of course, you should stay until the very end of the credits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl Most Likely

Kristen Wiig is terrific. She is funny. She’s a pretty woman who’s not vain. This is obvious from her work on SNL and in films. In Girl Most Likely, she brings her charm and goofiness to a quirky, disjointed movie. Does it work? Well, sort of.

Girl Most Likely stars Wiig as Imogene Duncan. She has talent as a playwright, gets a fellowship, but her dysfunctional upbringing sabotages her big opportunity in New York. When a boyfriend dumps her, she fakes a suicide to get his attention. Because she writes such a convincing suicide note, she is detained in a psych ward before being released to the custody of her mother.

Mom, Zelda (Annette Bening), is a mess: an OCD gambling addict who has hooked up at her Ocean City, New Jersey, home with the mysterious George (Matt Dillon). Also in the home are Imogene’s dorky brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) and a boarder, Lee (Darrin Criss).

The homecoming has mixed results. Imogene takes mom’s car and heads back to NYC but doesn’t get very far before wrecking it. Her initial disdain for the boarder Lee melts away when she sees him perform in his Backstreet Boys impersonation group and he takes her out with friends for drinks and dancing.

Lee takes Imogene and Ralph into NYC on a special mission (not to be revealed here), which yields big disappointment. The return to the shore leads to the film’s climactic scene and a resolution of sorts.

Girl Most Likely is a movie that I’d guess certain individuals might warmly embrace, because of its cast of weird, zany characters and an offbeat, unlikely plot. Some may appreciate the fact that Imogene’s quest has parallels to the Wizard of Oz story. In fact, it begins with a childhood version of Imogene reciting the words “There’s no place like home.”

A big problem with Girl Most Likely is that some of its humor is not quite as funny as it should be. When you shoot for guffaws but only elicit snickers, you’ve missed your mark. But despite this shortcoming, it’s great to have Wiig, who knocked it out of the park in 2011’s Bridesmaids (and was tremendous in the less-seen 2011 film Paul), back on the big screen.

(Yes, I know, she’s been back for a couple of weeks in Despicable Me 2, but voice acting is different.)