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Cast: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Park Seo-jun, Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Mohan Kapur, Zenobia Shroff, Saagar Shaikh
Director: Nia DaCosta
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 105 min. 

Nia DaCosta’s ‘The Marvels’ lends comic-book enchantment to the ever-expanding, increasingly unclear Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a conventional take and follows the graphic-novel dictum of toonish action with splashy VFX. It may not have the sophisticated elemental splurge of previous Marvel universe entries but it most certainly edges closer to its creative origins – more so than previous cinematic outings.
 
This highly anticipated follow-up to ‘Captain Marvel,’ has Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel( Brie Larsen), shouldering the burden of an unstabilised world – the unintended consequence of having reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree after having taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. The Marvels picks up where Captain Marvel left off with flashbacks giving the audience an inkling into what happened previously. Then we see that an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), gets Danvers’ powers entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), and S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonnah Paris). This unlikely trio must now team up and learn to work in cohesion, utilising their individual and collective powers judiciously, to save the universe.
 
Captain Marvel has Goose, the beloved Flerken, and occasionally connects with Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but she is a loner at heart until she teams up with the newer additions. She doesn’t have to bear the weight of protecting the worlds herself, anymore. So we get to see a little more levity and lightheartedness in her interactions here.
 
DaCosta, Elissa Karasik and Megan McDonnell script a fairly complex build-up but the resultant film fails to make the theme of interplanetary dependence more telling. Even the girl-bonding themeis rather sloppily executed. The breezy narrative and uneven plotting fails to lend depth to experience. Some of the sub-plots and story threads appear to have been discarded half-way. DaCosta has a certain visual style that is entertaining though. The fight sequences lend a distinctive comic-book feel to the action. Cinematographer Sean Bobbit, uses his camera in multiple ways using multiple angles and speeds to give the viewer an exciting experience of it all. The goofy, absurd comedy bits are of the hit-and-miss variety though.  
 
While Larsen and Parris put on distinctive shows, it’s Vellani who lends this film its funny-energy. She lends Ms Marvel an effervescence that is affecting.  Her Kamala is an American-born and bred Pakistani origin fangirl who holds her own despite her youthful follies and zest. It’s also heartening to see Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapoor and Saagar Shaikh (Asian actors) playing the part of her concerned family, in a big mainstream production with fairly lengthy roles.
 
This is by far the shortest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s cheerful and sportive and has likeable performances. It’s also a little too airy to be substantive.



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