“The Marvels” pertains to the three female lead characters Carol Danvers A.K.A Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), her biggest fan Kamala Khan-A.K.A. Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), the daughter of Carol’s old pilot friend Maria. Unfortunately, as delightful as these actresses and their characters are, the story doesn’t do them justice, and relies on the same old jokes regarding family and that alien cat Goose whose eating gags wear out their welcome.
Among the typical cliches within the screenplay, Monica is disillusioned by Carol breaking her promise of not coming back sooner when she was a tyke. She had to be Captain Marvel for the infinite alien races who couldn’t protect themselves, which is why, you recall, she gave Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) the emergency beeper. So, Monica needs to think about others instead of herself.
Another cliche regards a peace treaty between the two difference alien races: the Kree and the Skrulls. But it turns out to be a ruse by the evil Kree leader Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), who wants revenge on Captain Marvel (or “The Annihilator” as she likes to brand her) for a failed attempt to restore peace to her planet. Now, this villain is pissed.
To start, she’s able to rip holes on many planets to threaten their inhabitant with an ancient gauntlet she finds. That gauntlet is part of a two set, the other one resides on Ms. Marvel’s wrist, as a gift from her grandmother. Ultimately, that villain’s attack has caused Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica (she doesn’t want a code name) to switch places every time they use their powers. So, it could be a Rock Paper Scissors gimmick for them.
Director Nia DeCosta did an impressive job directing “Candyman” two years ago, because of how it presented the classic horror story in a timely manner. Her latest movie is a mixed bag with some good qualities, but annoying and routine situations. Even the comedy didn’t tickle me, and I don’t really like that alien cat.
Among the new bright spots, there’s a planet of singing people, who can only communicate through singing. Maybe Rogers and Hammerstein would have both loved this place, or maybe in this generation, Lin-Manuel Miranda: and it feels almost like its own Bollywood cover version of an “Aladdin” Broadway show. And their leader Prince Yan (Park Seo-joon) can speak bilingual, which means he’s the only one who can speak and sing. But here, I have the same complaint with “Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania,” “The Marvels” doesn’t want to take its time to explore this world, and has the villain being so tedious and underdeveloped. And this one is shorter than “Quantumania” at 107 minutes.
I enjoyed the first “Captain Marvel” from 2019, because of its 90s nostalgia and for Larson’s entertaining performance. But even before I saw “The Marvels,” I wasn’t all that fascinated. Yes, you get three lively leads by Larson, Vellani, and Parris, as well as some surprise cameos and Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” playing. But you also have the same story leading into another “Infinity War” and “Endgame” arc. This MCU isn’t really the way it used to be, in my opinion. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” pushed itself to new limits last May, but “The Marvels” sticks to the formulas.
I’m not giving this movie a negative review because I’m a male film critic, because I have praised female-led movies plenty of times before and will do. I even tried to persuade you readers to see “Joy Ride” last summer. I’m giving “The Marvels” a negative review, because it didn’t take me in the way the “Ms. Marvel” series did. It needs to be more patient, less gimmicky, more consistent, and less formulaic. Sorry, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica (remember: she doesn’t want a code name). Maybe next time.
Rating: 2 out of 4.
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.