Captain Marvel Review

By now we are used to Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and this is the 21st movie in the enormous franchise. Captain Marvel is the first MCU movie to be led by a female character, and only the second superhero movie ever after DC’s Wonder Woman. Could Marvel produce something as good as DC’s best? 

First of all, I have to say I think Brie Larson is a phenomenal actress. She’s a top-tier talent and kudos to Marvel for picking such a talent to play the new face of the MCU, and that is certainly what this movie is setting her up to be. She worked hard to do her own fight scenes and does everything she can with what she was given to do. I don’t like to delve into negatives too quickly, but Captain Marvel runs into an issue I was a little concerned by going in.

The issue is one I like to refer to as “The Superman Problem”. This film starts out with Carol Danvers as a powerful and skilled warrior, and ends with her being an even more powerful and skilled warrior. Superman is an indestructible, undeniable solution to almost every problem. In a similar vein, Captain Marvel felt a little too powerful at times in this film, and she is never really threatened by anything she comes up against (spoilers, she doesn’t die in this film).

The problem this movie has is that this new infallible hero isn’t even given a weakness like Superman’s Kryptonite, she is just a force of nature whose solution to all problems is to shoot beams at the problems. There are superb hero moments, but they don’t feel as earned as in some other films we have seen. Think Spiderman Homecoming, when he’s terrified under the crushed building calling for help, in that moment we saw the vulnerability of Spiderman. Captain Marvel has no vulnerability to speak of in this film.

That being said, the beams she is shooting to solve her problems do look cool, and as we have come to expect in an MCU film, all of the action scenes are well done. The stand out for me being ironically one where her beams of light aren’t there as weapons for her, and she has to show her fighting prowess. The other, more spectacularly shot scene is the one we catch a glimpse of in the trailer, with Carol Danvers flying through space blowing up ships.

Good action is expected by now in these movies, what has kept the MCU going for so long is its excellent character development. Nick Fury, played by a de-aged Samuel L Jackson, is brilliant in this film and this showcases everything we love about the character we have seen countless times to date. He has more screen time here than in any other film, and we learn a few things about him that we didn’t know before. Some of this film could spawn some considerable questions about other films in the MCU, and a few of them directly relate to thing Fury has said in movies we have seen.

The 90’s setting that allows for the creation of plot holes in movies we have already seen is an excellent excuse for a lot of references to 90s culture. We see Troll Dolls, hear Nirvana, and get to witness the inside of a Blockbuster for the first time in years. These references are all nice window dressing, but to be honest this could have been set a few days before infinity war and not much would have changed for this actual movie. That being said, they do bring some nostalgia with them, and that plays into some of the funnier moments. 

Aside from Nick Fury, we have Talos played by Ben Mendelsohn and Yonn-Rog played by Jude Law. Both are excellent actors in their own rights, and Law is really solid in his role. Mendelsohn nearly steals the movie for me though, playing an antagonist with a twist, and someone I really hope we see more of in the MCU going forward. I didn’t expect the turns this movie took, and therefore this film provided some of the most interesting world building to date in the MCU. It’s an odd thing but we seem to be reaching a point where Marvel is aware people know the comics, and are going out of their way to do things that will surprise us. I won’t say more for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say I thought there were some really smart storytelling choices made in this film.

What I think is difficult to quantify with these films is why it’s any better than say Dr. Strange, or Black Panther, and honestly I am not sure it is. It’s certainly not down with the likes of Thor: The Dark World, but because of the nature of the MCU it’s almost impossible for this to rank in the top echelons of the MCU given how deep in we are and how many characters we have seen combine. Captain Marvel is a return to a true origin story in the MCU, and one that doesn’t fall into the trappings we have seen in previous first outings. The final fight isn’t against a villain with exactly the same powers (Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Ant Man, Black Panther all spring immediately to mind), and there is no really blatant sequel set up.

This film extends the lore of the MCU in a more natural way then we have witnessed before. It gives us insights into characters we have seen before, but from a time before we knew them, and I am not just talking about Fury. Captain Marvel is yet another good film in the Marvel universe, and it got me even more excited for Avengers Endgame. If that was possible. The first end credits scene made me realise just how desperate I am to see that film. I can’t wait. Only a month and a half away.

Good: Excellent Action, Solid acting all round, MCU continues to expand and some great 90s nostalgia. Goose the Cat is awesome, and the Marvel Logo at the start will make you cry.

Bad: Script felt a little empty in some ways, leading to a mildly underdeveloped hero. Superman Problem needs to be addressed in future movies and I didn’t like how Fury lost his eye (Spoilers I guess…)

7/10 – Carol Danvers joins the MCU, and immediately becomes Thanos’ biggest problem. 

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Review

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a film that, on paper, is perfect for me. Two charismatic actors with good chemistry in an action movie with lots of quips and jokes throughout. Going in I was hoping to be entertained but was curious about the plot and the rest of the film. 

The first thing you have to say about The Hitman’s Bodyguard is that the chemistry you hope for between Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds is there. They bounce off each other brilliantly and they are easily the best part of the film. Ryan Reynolds keeps his character grounded enough to stop it becoming a Deadpool copycat which to be honest I wouldn’t have minded too much considering how much I loved him in that role. He is so good at the quick one liners and comedic elements he can make anything watchable.

It’s a very good job him and an on form Sam Jackson are in this as the rest of the film really struggles. The only other part that holds up at all is the action, which considering the director’s last movie is one of the Expendables franchise you would expect no less. Some slightly iffy special effects can be forgiven for what is a smaller budget film and the action is fun to watch when it happens.

That is all the good that the Hitman’s Bodyguard has to offer, and whilst it is entertaining the film has a number of issues. First of all the plot is anything but compelling, with a Belarusian dictator played by Gary Oldman (more on him in a second) on trial for war crimes and the Hitman played by Sam Jackson has a file that is needed for this trial to convict him. Of course, being an eastern european dictator, Gary Oldman has a number of his own hitmen out to stop Jackson reaching the court in Holland. The plot is laid out early on, then largely forgotten for long periods of the film. It serves as a reason for Jackson and Reynolds to be on their crazy road trip but it lacks any degree of subtlety.

Now I love thoroughly appreciate him Gary Oldman’s work, from his role in Harry Potter as Sirius Black, to his picture perfect Jim Gordon in the Dark Knight. He is rumoured to be in with a shout at an oscar win this year, and im glad because he is a fine actor. That all being said, he is terrible in this film. The accent he put on disappears when he raises his voice above a certain level, there is no motivations behind why he appears to be doing these terrible things. I do not understand why you would get a talent like him and tell him to play the most generic bad guy you could imagine with no depth for him to explore. This goes down as one where he was just cashing his cheque.

The other supporting cast are scattered through the film, with only really Salma Hayek being memorable in any way. Despite her being fun to watch, her character has literally no reason to be in the movie. Elodie Yung is a thousand times better in Daredevil and the Defenders than her character here allows her to be, although she does do well with what is another poorly fleshed out character.

Verdict

The strangest thing about The Hitman’s Bodyguard is that despite its obvious flaws and knowing it is not a good movie, I still had quite a laugh watching it. This is a testament to the chemistry and charisma of Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds. Without them, this would be a terrible film. With them, it’s just below average with some fun moments scattered throughout.

4/10 – 2 points each for Jackson and Reynolds.