"The Marvels" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
"Captain Marvel", which was released in 2019, was a very divisive film. Some people loved it and thought it was a great introduction to one of the strongest characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and some thought it totally missed the mark and didn't set up her character well enough for the massive "Avengers: Endgame". Now, the MCU seems to be in shambles, not sure where to go next and how to follow up the conclusion of their massive, multi-film story. There have been some great films, such as "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3" and there's been some major disappointments, like "Thor: Love and Thunder". Well, unfortunately, Nia DaCosta's MCU directorial debut, "The Marvels" is a mess. It's very entertaining and enjoyable, but a massive mess nonetheless that feels more like a holiday special than a completed, theatrical film.
The film follows the trio of superheroes that makes up the so-called Marvels, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), who all become intertwined when their powers force them to swap places with one another whenever they are used. Because of this, it forces Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to team them up to find out who is causing this and how to fix it. When they find out it's the work of a disgruntled citizen named Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), whose home planet was affected by Captain Marvel's acts, they must stop her no matter what cost to save the place they all call home.
From the second this film starts to the moment it ends, this doesn't feel like a theatrical picture. In fact, a lot of the Marvel movies nowadays have sort of felt like that. Before, Marvel would have a clear and precise opening to set the tone for the film and show the story our character(s) will go down, but these just feel like they're throwing us right back into the fold like nothing has happened or gone on since then. It doesn't work, and it just makes the entire movie as a whole feel very cheapened and unlike a real theatrical movie experience.
When looking on it from a film critic standpoint, this movie is awful. There is no real format at all, and the main points you're looking for are simply not there, with the exception of a climax. There is no real beginning, middle, or end; the rising action, the midpoint, and the other elements that make a film work are simply not there. What this does feel like is a collection of random events that could work if there was a great movie to tie it all together. That is simply not what this is. It seems like we cut from plot point to plot point, with many that simply can't be linked together. We go from a story about mass genocide to our main characters finding themselves on a planet where singing in show tunes is pretty much the only communication. Not only is the story all over the place, but so is the tone evidently. This movie doesn't know what it wants to be, and it suffers majorly because of that.
But, with that being said, this movie honestly is a lot of fun. It's pretty much showing these three characters that have great chemistry together going through a series of random, funny events that can easily garner a laugh out of the viewer and make them enjoy what they are watching. When concerning some of these characters, there are scenes present here that I find really enjoyable and pleasant, but they shouldn't exist here in this film.
Larson doesn't do anything to be a great hero in this film, in fact, I would say she is perhaps more of a nuisance than she was enjoyable. Parris gives another decent performance as Monica, reflecting on the time she spent on the Wandavision show two years ago. But, the real standout here is Ms. Marvel. She is the heart and soul of this picture, and she is amazing in every scene she is in. At 21 years old (even though she looks a lot younger), Vellani has simply mastered the art of being enjoyable and fun. You look forward to every scene she is in, and she simply works perfectly for this film.
In terms of the antagonist of this film, she is pretty much the most useless and forgettable villain the MCU has ever had. In fact, I would say she is one of the worst villains in any modern superhero movie. Nothing she does contributes to the overall film and storyline the MCU is creating, and it just seems like a throwaway villain for a cash-grab film. Besides the mid-credit scene, the villain and the movie don't do anything to further the overarching story, and that is not a good sign at all.
This movie desperately tries to be something that it's simply not. It has all of these ideas and themes jam-packed into one movie that don't work all together. If this movie had a more concise and tighter screenplay, as well as better direction in terms of themes and tone. Sure, it is a very fun and enjoyable time for most of it, but it simply cannot be hailed as a good movie.