Captain Marvel

Genre: Action

Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Screenplay: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Clark Gregg, Jude Law, Annette Bening

Running Length: 124 minutes

Synopsis: Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she becomes one of the universes most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.

Review: It’s “only” taken 10 years and 20 films for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to finally produce a female-led superhero movie, but if you were hoping for Captain Marvel to do for female empowerment what Black Panther did for black representation, I would suggest you look elsewhere. There’s no denying that Captain Marvel does what a Marvel superhero movie typically sets out to do – it is an entertaining (if less than consequential) romp through the MCU via an origins story – but the marketing around the movie is positioning it as a positive beacon of female empowerment, which really quite overstates the case. 

When the directors of Captain Marvel were announced, it seemed like a pretty interesting decision – Boden and Fleck are more known for their indie films, and helming a big budget action movie may not make them the most intuitive choice. And honestly, this could be part of the reason why Captain Marvel comes across as a rather uneven movie. While the comedic beats are quite good (the regular jibes at 90s tech will be particularly amusing to anyone who’s actually lived through the era) and there’s an easygoing camaraderie amongst the cast (channeling a little bit of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies), the action sequences in the film are some of the most inadequately choreographed, muddied scenes in recent memory. In fact, even the money shots of spaceships engaging in battle feel like they belong more to a TV episode of Star Trek than a mega-budget movie like this one. 

It’s also unfortunate that while Brie Larson is a perfectly capable actress, the fact that she needs to spend almost half a movie in an amnesiac haze does her no favours. Carol Danvers is simply far less interesting as a character than she should be, and while there are occasional glimpses back to a time where she’s a livelier person, the supporting cast members like Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch and even Annette Bening are actually far more engaging throughout the film. Special mention must be made of Goose, the super adorable orange tabby (played by four different cats!), who plays a pretty important role in the movie and manages to steal whatever scene he shows up in. (P.S. stay through the entire credits sequence for a cute but none-too-consequential second coda.)

The key drive of many female-led movies seem to be centred around the idea of “if men can do it, women can do it too”, and this is an old, tired trope we should already have moved away from years ago. Female empowerment in Captain Marvel literally refers to imbuing a woman with superhuman abilities that allow her to stand toe to toe with male counterparts, but how is that identifiable or teachable in any meaningful way? The solitary scene that bucks this typecasting is a collage where we see Carol Danvers literally standing up to adversity near the end of the film, but it’s too little, too late.

While this could potentially be asking too much of a superhero movie, coming off a high watermark year of 2018 (Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and even Ant Man & the Wasp had more convincing female empowerment on display), Captain Marvel feels more like a throwaway sidestep before April’s Avengers: Endgame (where Captain Marvel purported plays a pivotal role) comes around. The film is a perfunctory, middle of the pack Marvel film that does just enough to justify its existence, but is a retread of a path already frequently trod on by its MCU predecessors, rather than taking the mega-franchise in any new direction. 

Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)

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Oscar Predictions 2019

It’s been a busier than usual start of the year at work in 2019, and this is actually the first time I’ve put “pen” to “paper” since the year commenced. Of course I’ve tried to cover as much Oscars ground as possible, and finally, just hours to the ceremony itself, I have managed to complete viewing of all the major contenders for the year. Phew. Given the difficulty it had taken me to get to access a live telecast of the ceremony this year, it’s probably going to be one of the last times where I can actually get to watch the show live – so hopefully my tally this year would be a decent one! 

Since I am not involved in any Oscar pool or viewing party (the norm these days), I will be abstaining from the documentary and short film categories. Now, on to the predictions: 

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Should win: Blackkklansman

Prediction: Roma

The only possible thing in Roma’s way of winning Best Picture this year is that it’s still a foreign language film. Of the 8 there are some really iffy contenders this year, and personally while Roma is a beautiful film, Blackkklansman is the one that truly stirred something in me. It’s quite a wide open category this year and even Roma isn’t a sure thing, but it should still stand the best chance of coming ahead the rest of the pack (and honestly, some of the films here don’t seem to be truly deserving of the accolade). 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Should win: Christian Bale, Vice

Prediction: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

This award is almost surely going to Rami Malek given his hot run so far, even though I felt Bale’s performance as Dick Cheney in Vice is the far more masterful one. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Should win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Prediction: Glenn Close, The Wife

Olivia Colman’s performance in The Favourite is one of my (ahem) favourite performances of the year, but Glenn Close seems poised to finally walk away with the award after a seventh nomination. I personally didn’t think that highly of Lady Gaga’s performance, and I don’t think she will be able to beat the odds on this one. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Should win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book 

Prediction: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

This is the most locked-in category of the night. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Should win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Prediction: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emily Blunt seems to have been robbed of a nomination here for the unforgettable performance in The Quiet Place, but Regina King’s short but powerful scenes in If Beale Street Could Talk and the relatively higher number of wins in the awards season should swing this her way. Rachel Weisz was also very memorable in The Favourite and could be a dark horse here as well. 

Best Achievement in Directing

Should win: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

I honestly think no one else stands a chance in this category, although all the directors nominated here put in amazing work this year. 

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Should win: The Favourite 

Prediction: The Favourite 

As Yanxi Palace has proven, everyone loves women behaving badly in period dramas. Green Book is a close second though I think The Favourite would have left a far deeper impression on the voters in the Academy. 

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Should win: Blackkklansman

Prediction: Blackkklansman

Although the WGA gave the award to Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the movie has made minimal impact in the Oscar nominations, which leads me to believe Blackkklansman would be the screenplay to walk home with the statuette instead. 

Best Achievement in Cinematography


Should Win: Roma

Prediction: Roma

Even though I wasn’t entirely taken by the film, there’s no denying Roma is gorgeously lit and shot. 

Best Achievement in Editing

Should Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Prediction: Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody (to me) is a film riddled with problems and I genuinely do not understand the awards love for the film, but if there’s one other award that it probably deserves, it would be for the editing, especially the Live Aid sequence. 

Best Achievement in Production Design

Prediction: The Favourite

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Prediction: The Favourite

While I think Roma has a chance of pipping The Favourite in Production Design, the Costume Design nod is almost certainly going to be a shoo-in. While Mary Poppins had some truly inspired costume designs as well, the film just didn’t make much of an impact overall. 

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Prediction: Vice

Honestly I thought it was quite a strange omission to leave out The Favourite (especially when Mary Queen of Scots isn’t), I hope the excellent work on Vice would be given due recognition and also the win. 

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Prediction: If Beale Street Could Talk 

The two major lead-up winners (First Man and A Star is Born) aren’t nominated for the Oscar, so amongst the five here, Nicholas Britell’s lush, beautiful score for If Beale Street Could Talk seems to stand a good chance to win. 

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Prediction: Shallow, A Star is Born

This is almost a dead lock – the song has definitely had the most airplay leading up and into awards season.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Prediction: Roma

Sound mixing played an important role in setting the mood for many scenes in Roma, but there’s no clear winner here, with each nominee all having different but equally compelling cases to win the award. 

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Prediction: A Quiet Place

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Prediction: Avengers: Infinity War

This is pure guesswork, though I am sure Christopher Robin is not going to win this one. 

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Prediction: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Yes, it’s a non-Disney, non-Pixar film that I’ve bet on this year, despite there being both a Pixar AND a Disney film nominated this year. Into the Spider-verse is honestly the freshest animated film I have seen in years and it would be such a miss if it didn’t win here. 

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Prediction: Roma

Wondering if the same film can win both Best Foreign Film AND Best Picture, but this would probably be the most likely year such an occurrence would take place. 

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