Captain Marvel is not bad and it’s not great either. I bunch it up with Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Wonder Woman (the best of the DCEU movies), all of which I found just satisfying enough in the movie theater but am on the fence about ever needing to see again.
Captain Marvel starts off poorly on Hala, which doesn’t feel alien at all but rather like a futuristic Earth except there are blue people too. The first action scenes are purely perfunctory. The movie doesn’t really pick up until Carol buddies up with Nick Fury around 30 minutes in.
Brie Larson is the best thing about the movie in my opinion, and she has a strong supporting cast so that means something. She just exudes a strong, funny presence as this sassy military woman. Samuel L. Jackson is good as a Nick Fury who is still inexperienced and hasn’t become the super cautious cynical spy yet. The CGI that de-ages him is impressive. For some reason, it’s much less effective on Phil Coulson who looks overly “Photoshopped” and evokes the uncanny valley effect. Ben Mendelsohn is very funny in a slapdash way as the Skrull leader. Lashana Lynch is excellent as Carol’s former best friend, Maria Rambeau, and mother of Monica. Monica is played amiably by a plucky Akira Akbar. I was very impressed that Monica makes nearly as much impact as Maria in the film, which is definitely setting up for the payoff down the road of her becoming Photon/Spectrum. Goose the cat is already famous as a scene-stealer.
On the other hand, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, and especially Annette Bening are wasted. The most important part missing in the film is establishing Carol’s relationship with Annette Bening’s character and to make that much more meaningful. Also Carol not fighting Ronan hand-to-hand is a lost opportunity in my opinion since she’ll never have the opportunity again (unless it’s in a flashback). Since Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg, you know he’s the villain, but he’s a mediocre villain with no gravitas. That said, I liked his final face-off with Carol (even if it steals from Raiders of the Lost Ark).
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are not action directors and it shows. They’ve got nothing on the fantastically choreographed fights in the Russo MCU films or in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. The fights in Captain Marvel lack good rhythmic pacing (there should be an ebb and flow), a strong spatial sense of where combatants are in relation to one another, and are just edited poorly. The strong special effects partly make up for that, but not enough.
I suppose the thing that potentially bothers me, having not seen Endgame yet and only speculating, is that she has great potential to be the Sentry in the films.
I do not mean in terms of characterization but in terms of power. To me, she showed greater power than we have seen so far. Thor has had great feats, don't get me wrong, but she held a giant missle back in the air, tanked an explosion while laughing and then easily destroyed ships that took all of Xandar and the Guardians to down in the end.
I liked her movie, I just am not sure I like the general characterization in terms of power. Does not have any impact on my enjoyment of this movie, but I am a little concerned, for nerd reasons, going forward.