CAPTAIN MARVEL – Review by Susan Granger

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Slam! Bam! Pow! The first female-led installment in the interconnected, ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe is so action-packed that there’s barely room for a coherent origin saga.

On the futuristic planet Hala, Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree soldier being trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her emotions, instead of shooting powerful photon blasts from her glowing fists.

When she’s captured by green-skinned, lizard-like, shape-shifting Skrulls, General Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) probes her mind for memories on primitive Planet C-53 (a.k.a. Earth).

In the 1995 backstory, Vers crash-lands through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store on C-53, wearing her spandex Starforce uniform, drawing the attention of skeptical cop Nick Fury (digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson), who’s an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D agent and devoted to Goose, a ginger cat.

While searching for her mentor, Tesseract inventor Dr. Wendy Lawson (slyly played by Annette Bening), amnesia-stricken Vers is reunited with her best friend, Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who has a feisty little daughter (Akira Akbar).

Maria tells Vers that she was Carol Danvers, an adventurous test pilot in an era when females were not allowed in combat: “You know why they call it the cockpit?” And repeatedly warned: “Girls shouldn’t do that,” “It’s too dangerous for you,” or “You’ll get hurt.”

While Larson won a Best Actress Oscar for Room, she’s no Wonder Woman, although she banked $5 million for this as part of a seven-picture deal – $3 million more than Chadwick Boseman made for Black Panther.

Perfunctorily scripted by co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, along with Geneva Robertson-Dwore, Nicole Perlman and Meg LaFauve, it’s a sturdy, low-key, retro-nostalgic, sci-fi prequel to Avengers: Endgame, as Captain Marvel joins Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk against Thanos.

Problem is: the use of stunt doubles is all too obvious, and Brie Larson lacks superhero gravitas, looking a bit too much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Captain Marvel is an underwhelming, escapist 6 – but stay for two significant post-credit sequences.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.