CVIndependent

Sun12082019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

It looks like somebody forgot to tell Brie Larson to have fun and let loose in Captain Marvel. Her turn as the title character, aka Carol Danvers, is laced with lethargy and bizarre line deliveries.

Samuel L. Jackson and an orange tabby fortunately seem to be enjoying themselves, but Larson is stiffer than Church the cat on the Creed’s front lawn after his unfortunate encounter with a speeding truck. (Say, is my excitement for the upcoming Pet Sematary reboot evident?)

A similar problem plagued Larson in Kong: Skull Island. The Academy Award-winning actress seems to be in her wheelhouse when the budget is low, but seems miscast when she shows up in a blockbuster. She gives off a detached vibe; it’s odd. The movie should be called Captain Meh: I Dunno … I Got Better Things to Do.

If the movie around her were really good, her seemingly bored disposition might’ve been forgiven—but Captain Marvel is also riddled with awful special effects and haphazard storytelling.

I went in hoping for a badass movie about Captain Marvel, but found myself more intrigued by the subplot involving an up-and-coming, low ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Nick Fury, played by Jackson. The de-aged Jackson, along with a returning Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), who died in the first Avengers movie, are so good that you’ll wish they got their own film.

I’m not putting the blame solely on Larson; the character itself is a bust when it comes to superheroes. All she does is fly around and send out energy bursts from her hands. She has moments when she goes into full Marvel mode, bringing on some sort of light show where she glows and gets white eyes, as well as a goofy-looking mohawk. As for superpowers … they just don’t register as anything that exciting. The Marvel light show isn’t aided by the special effects, which look rushed and cartoonish. Captain Marvel in her full glory doesn’t integrate with the worlds around her; she looks animated and out of place.

As for the orange tabby named Goose, he’s your basic super-cute cat—with a few surprises under his fur. Again, the special effects are a letdown when Goose goes full Goose, another example of the visual team coming up short.

Part of the film is set on Earth in the 1990s, and Jackson’s Fury has a full head of hair and both eyes. It also lends to music by Nirvana and No Doubt, both of which are used in situations that feel awkward and forced. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck got a little carried away in their efforts to be cute with the tunes.

There’s a big supporting cast, including a strong Annette Bening as a scientist and murky memory in Carol’s dreams. Lashana Lynch does good work as Maria Rambeau (pronounced “Rambo!”), an earthly friend of Carol’s. Jude Law gets a change of pace with an action role as an alien named Yon-Rogg, while Ben Mendelsohn plays Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. boss, another character with a few surprises to offer.

The film isn’t completely devoid of fun; it’s just not on par with other Marvel offerings, although I concede that’s a high bar to hit. As for Captain Marvel, the end of Avengers: Infinity War hinted at some major participation for her, so this is just the start for the character. Let’s hope things get better.

As always, stay all the way through the credits. There are plenty of things happening that you won’t want to miss, even if you’ve had your fill with the events that happened before all those words splashed across the screen.

Captain Marvel is playing at theaters across the valley, in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews

This business of sending some movies directly to iTunes/Amazon.com and on-demand services while they show on limited screens across the country is turning out to be really cool. Some great films, including Michael Fassbender’s Slow West, have been released this year using this method.

Now another great film has been released in this way: Mississippi Grind.

Powerhouse performances are delivered by Ben Mendelsohn as Gerry, a depressed gambler, and Ryan Reynolds as Curtis, his artificially upbeat counterpart. The two meet at a low-stakes poker game, share some bourbon and wind up on a road trip to New Orleans with the intent of getting in on a huge money game.

Things don’t quite work out that way, with Gerry recklessly gambling the money Curtis stakes him, while Curtis womanizes and steals bicycles. Still, the two men continue to be drawn to each other—and it all leads up to some big events.

Reynolds is having a banner year in smaller projects, proving he has more than blockbuster good looks. The man is supremely talented, and this is his best performance to date: Curtis is a fully realized character backed by the kind of script and direction his talent deserves. Reynolds was also great in this year’s funny and sick The Voices (which also did the limited release/on demand thing).

Matching Reynolds note for note is the always-amazing Mendelsohn. His Gerry is everything you would expect from a person suffering from gambling addiction. He’s desperate; he’s unruly; and he’s a genuinely good human being who is trying to make things right. It’s easy to feel sorry for Gerry. Mendelsohn gives him a beating heart.

Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, responsible for the very good Sugar and Half Nelson, wrote and directed this. They are, without a doubt, one of the more underrated writer/director teams working today. This film and its performances need to be remembered in a few months: Mendelsohn and Reynolds deserve year-end award consideration.

Mississippi Grind is available on demand and via online sources such as iTunes and Amazon.com.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing