Captain Marvel soars - but not as high as the cat!

REVIEW: Captain Marvel (12a), (124 mins)

Friday, 8th March 2019, 3:04 pm
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 3:20 pm
Brie Larson in Captain Marvel
Brie Larson in Captain Marvel

For those of us who think we’d almost rather stand for a couple of hours at a bus stop than watch yet another superhero movie, Captain Marvel comes as a very pleasant surprise – a film which starts desperately slowly and very murkily, but which builds and builds to a fantastic flourish.

It comes with so many of the usual superhero drags. We’ve got a heroine who hasn’t got a clue who she is; we’ve got goodies who might not actually be goodies after all; we’ve got baddies who possibly aren’t all that they first appear; and we’ve also got a bunch of funny green people who can assume the appearance of anyone they choose to.

Does the viewer actually stand a chance? This is a film which relies on us all enjoying the fact that for the most part it’s impossible work out what on earth (or in space) is actually going on.There is endless jargon, lots of sententious waffling about energy cores, lots of baffling flashbacks; and for long periods you feel you might just as well be watching a computer game. Or even worse, watching someone else play a computer game.

But the fact is it that is brilliantly put together for the slowest of slow reveals, a reveal all the more satisfying for the painstaking care with which it has all been built up. We’re supposed to be watching Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes, so who on earth is Vers? It’s clever, very clever.

And for once, the humour isn’t the self-knowing, self-referential kind which is usually the blight of superhero movies. No, for once this one is actually quite funny for all its portentousness.Its shining light (well one of them) is Brie Larson, our clueless heroine who is forced to piece her own past together while forging her future as the saviour of us all. She does both with style, ably assisted as Maria by Lashana Lynch, whom we saw four years ago in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre in Educating Rita.

Also adding to the fun is Samuel L Jackson, offering much of the wit, but there’s no doubting the scene-stealer of every scene it’s in: a gorgeous ginger moggie who really ought to be given its own film one day. It all adds up to a film which might just crack those of us convinced superheroes aren’t for us...