CVIndependent

Wed05222019

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

Writer-director Maggie Carey has put together a shockingly naughty sex comedy set in the early ’90s and featuring female protagonists. In The To Do List, Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Safety Not Guaranteed) continues her cinematic wonder streak as Brandy, a class valedictorian and super-virgin.

After some discussions with her best buds (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), she decides she needs to make a sex “to-do” list to ready her for the rigors of college life. This results in a lot of awkward sex acts among high school grads, with some of them performed by best bud and secret admirer, Cameron (Johnny Simmons).

Brandy gets a summer job as a lifeguard, where she pines for Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) and works for a deadbeat boss (the hilarious Bill Hader; he’s Carey’s real-life husband). Plaza proves that she is game for anything, including a fantastically crude play on the Caddyshack “doodie” scene, and all sorts of bodily fluid exercises.

Clark Gregg may be this year’s funniest movie dad, and Rachel Bilson scores uproarious laughs as Brandy’s bitchy sister. However, when it comes to the film’s supporting performances, nobody beats Hader, who does his best screen work to date. He has a scene—one in which he is simply being woken up—that is sheer comic brilliance.

Carey is a great comedy writer, and I’m anxious to see what she comes up with next. This offering brings to mind great sex comedies like Risky Business; it’s a major relief from more recent sex comedies like the overrated American Pie series.

As for Plaza, master of the deadpan, she is one of the more enjoyable comic actresses working today. If you haven’t seen her in Safety Not Guaranteed yet, see that movie as soon as possible.

Special Features: Carey and Hader provide a commentary. You also get outtakes, deleted scenes and an interview with Carey.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Writer-director Maggie Carey has used compelling female protagonists to put together a shockingly naughty sex comedy set in the early ’90s.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Safety Not Guaranteed) continues her cinematic wonder streak as Brandy, class valedictorian and super-virgin. After some discussions with her best buds (Sarah Steele and Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat), she decides she needs to make a sexual “to-do” list to ready her for the rigors of college life. This results in a lot of awkward sex acts among high school grads, with some of them performed by best-bud and secret admirer, Cameron (Johnny Simmons). Brandy gets a summer job as a lifeguard, where she pines for Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) and works for a deadbeat boss (the hilarious Bill Hader, Carey’s real-life husband).

Plaza proves that she is game for anything, including a fantastically crude play on the Caddyshack “doodie” scene, and all sorts of bodily-fluid exercises.

Clark Gregg just may be this year’s funniest movie dad, and Rachel Bilson scores uproarious laughs as Brandy’s bitchy sister.

As far as summer films go, this one has the most laughs per minute—and I can’t wait to see what Carey comes up with next. She writes a mean script.

The To Do List is now playing at the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 760-770-1615) and the Century Theatres at The River (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).

Published in Reviews