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The MCU has been building to this moment.
Surprisingly on the heels of DC for the first time, probably ever, Marvel have released their first film featuring a female superhero and the release was timed perfectly with International Women's Day.
Carol Danvers, the titular half-Kree, half-human hero, is just what the MCU needs and just who the Avengers need to take the big purple Titan, Thanos, down.
However, unlike DC's "Wonder Woman", Marvel failed to give Carol her proper and deserved first outing. Instead, they made "Captain Marvel" as much of Nick Fury's origin story as it was Carol's and that's where the film lacked.
Where "Wonder Woman" was all Diana's story with some Steve Trevor thrown in for good measure, Carol was sidelined in her story by much more interesting side characters including Yon-Rogg (Law), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), though Coulson had a diminishedï¿ 1/2 1/2 1/2"though highly importantï¿ 1/2 1/2 1/2"role in the film.
Vers (Larson) is a Kree warrior who is haunted by memories. She is told to harness her emotions by Yon-Rogg because if she doesn't she won't be able to be the warrior she needs to be. She is begrudgingly added to Star Force on Hala to fight against the Skrulls, aliens who can shapeshift down to the DNA level. When Talos captures Vers, he digs in her head to uncover the whereabouts of Bening's character, a woman named Wendy Lawson who is the head of Project Pegasus on Earth.
Talos' digging kickstarts Vers on her journey to discover her true identity as Carol Danvers, a woman from Earth who is strong, powerful, incredibly human, and wonderfully kind. Along the way, she meets SHIELD and forms a relationship with Fury and reconnects with her best friend, the amazing and tough Maria Rambeau.
The thing that sidelines Carol in her own story is what sets up her story to begin with. Her amnesia and her search for answers was interesting but, in many ways, Carol felt like a side character in what was supposed to be her big reveal.
Fury and Talos and even Yon-Rogg were key players, all men, of course, in a way that Carol wasn't. Without Talos, Carol might have never realized how terrible the Kree were. Without Fury, she might have never found the answers she was looking for. Without Yon-Rogg, Carol might not be alive to be badass.
Here is a woman of incredible power who is "made" by all of these male side characters. Only toward the end, does Carol become the hero she needs to be and does "Captain Marvel" become the movie it needed to be.
It is worthwhile to note that on Earth before she became half-Kree, Carol was a warrior in her own right. She stood up when others tried to knock her down and she did many things that women weren't "supposed" to do. She had a beautiful friendship with Maria and the two kicked ass when others told them no.
It's Maria's proper introduction in the movie and Carol's returned memories that makes the film finally click. Once Carol is no longer fighting with a hand tied behind her back, the audience (and Carol) sees her empowerment flame to life which she immediately and wholeheartedly embraces.
This empowerment happens with about 45 minutes left of the film.
With the amnesia gone, Larson and Carol can have more fun and it's made obvious very quickly that Larson struggled against the first two thirds of the film and the limitations of the script and the character. When she's finally let loose, Larson truly becomes Carol and for the audience, it's a delight. The final fight in the film is a bombastic joyride that gives us a glimpse of exactly who Carol is and how she will help the Avengers defeat Thanos.
Carol is the lynchpin of the MCU. No spoilers, but the final moments of the film show just how important she is, and it makes me wonder why we didn't get her story sooner.
"Captain Marvel" is still a treat despite its treatment of Carol. The film is hilarious. Jackson is still on the top of his game as Fury. Coulson's inclusion is tiny, as mentioned, but we understand why Fury went through what he did to bring Coulson back after "The Avengers."
There's a trust between these two characters and when there's a sequel to "Captain Marvel," here's to hoping it'll be set in a time before "The Avengers," so we get more of Fury and Coulson teaming up. Here's to hoping that a sequel will also give Carol a story that doesn't put her on the sidelines and develops her character with a script that puts her front and center where she belongs and where she'll truly thrive.
I hesitate to even write this review, mostly because I typically don't like giving movies any rating lower than a three out of five stars. Why? Because it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make a film. It is a time-consuming process that may or may not pay out in the end. Not to mention, there are very few films I encounter that I think merit less than three stars. I don't encounter films I don't like very often.
"Home Again" just so happens to be one of those films. Reece Witherspoon's most recent romantic comedy, and the film that was supposed to mark her return to the genre, falls flat in so many different ways. It's a shame that the filmmakers didn't recognize the problems the film had while in production. They might have been able to fix this train wreck.
What makes things worse is "Home Again" had a terrific premise. Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), daughter of famed director Jack Kinney, moves back home to Los Angeles after splitting from her record producer husband Austen Blume (Michael Sheen). After partying hard to celebrate her birthday, she plays host to a trio of men who've moved to LA to get a movie made. One of the men, Harry (Pico Alexander) catches her eye but things don't go exactly as planned, especially as Austen shows up one evening with a suitcase in his hand.
This film would have been so much better had Alice fallen in love with the sensitive, writer of the trio, George instead of Harry. The chemistry between Witherspoon and Alexander was non-existent and, to be honest, George was the strongest of the three men. His character was intriguing, and I cared more about him than I cared about Harry. Harry was a cardboard cut out and Alexander wasn't much better. He was easy on the eyes but his acting left little to be desired.
Witherspoon also lost her luster in this movie. I think a lot of comes down to just how awful the script is. With something good, like "Legally Blonde," there's no doubt that she can do great things. This, however, was not something good. In fact, it was cheesy and cliched in a way that romantic comedies have attempted to break from in recent years. The characters were bland, and the plot was flimsy.
Had "Home Again" decided to focus on the Jack Kinney angle, I think the film would've been much better. The movie opens with Alice narrating about her life growing up with her famous father and how he was such a big part of her life, but then the thread gets dropped and it's only picked up again when George stumbles on Jack's things, all packed up in boxes in one of Alice's many empty rooms. She mentions she can't get rid of the stuff, but that's the last the audience hears about it. To me, it makes no sense.
The only, and I do mean only, saving grace of this film is Sheen as Austen. A part of me wishes that he had entered the film as a major player far earlier. Austen is in one scene in the very beginning of the film then comes in fully with about thirty minutes left of the film. There's very little time for the audience to make assumptions about his character. We're told he's a manipulative asshole. What we're shown is something different.
Sheen is charming as Austen and looks good in a pair of jeans and that's about all the motivation I needed to finish this film. Had he not been a part of the cast, I might have turned the movie off halfway through. It was that boring and uninspired, but, again, Sheen made it worth it. He's always charming and always acts his heart out despite the source material.