Friday, June 14, 2019

Captain Marvel Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Set in the 1990s, “Captain Marvel” is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that introduces the MCU’s first stand-alone, female-franchise title character—Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel. When we first meet Danvers, she already possesses her superhero powers, having left her earthly life behind and become a member of an intergalactic elite Kree military team called Starforce, led by their enigmatic commander, Yon-Rogg. But after Danvers has trained and worked with the Starforce team, and become a valued member¬, she finds herself back on Earth with new questions about her past. While on Earth she quickly lands on the radar of Nick Fury, and they must work together against a formidable enemy in the form of the Skrulls—the notorious Marvel bad guys made even more dangerous by their shape-shifting abilities—and their leader, Talos, who is spearheading a Skrull invasion of Earth.
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
The introduction of Marvel's newest cosmic superhero begins with a look in the past - 1995 to be exact. On the Kree home planet of Hala, a young woman known as Vers (Brie Larson) is struggling with memory issues and recurring nightmares that are throwing off her training. Her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), tries to get her to focus on controlling her emotions to make her more effective. Even the Supreme Intelligence, (the AI that rules the Kree and represented by Annette Bening) warns her about her emotions.

Vers is still included when a rescue mission is sent to recover an undercover Kree operative who had infiltrated the Kree's hated enemy - the Skrulls, who have the ability to shapeshift and who have been at war with the Kree for awhile. When the mission goes wrong, Vers is captured by the Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) who after probing her mind, determines that the target that the Skrulls are seeking can be found on Earth. The mind probe also shows forgotten memories to Vers, who manages to escape the Skrull ship and crash land in Los Angeles, which brings the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D., specifically agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).    

Their investigation is interrupted between a fight between Vers and the Skrulls which reveals to the agents that shape-shifting aliens are now on Earth and S.H.I.E.L.D. is not ready for that yet. Fury teams up with Vers to look into a U.S. Air Force base where she seems to have memories of having been there before. They learn that Vers is actually a human named Carol Danvers (whose name name was damaged in a crash, leaving only the last four letters of her name left). Carol was a test pilot flying an experimental engine when things went wrong. As she pieces back together all of her past memories, Carol will learn the truth about her past and who her true enemy is.

While I didn't love this film as much as the other Marvel movies (this was still better than Thor: The Dark World), this is still a fun and enjoyable entry in the series. That may sound like faint praise, but Marvel has raised the bar so high with their films, that perfectly good movies may still feel like the fell a little short. Brie Larson does a nice job as Captain Marvel and I enjoyed the moments her humanity shines through far more than when she is bragging about her abilities. I'm all for confident women, but the line between that and arrogance is a delicate one. Carol is even more unbearable in Avengers: End Game when she tells the Avengers that attacking Thanos a second time will be successful because they now have her help. 

She's not the first Marvel character to have a huge ego like Tony Stark, but the difference is that Robert Downey Jr.'s tongue in cheek delivery showed that it was just Tony being Tony and he was trying to hide what a huge heart he had. Of course, on the other hand, Captain Marvel has been given enough power to have earned that arrogance as she can shoot pulse blasts from her hands, fly through space and through space ships, and just about anything else she wants to do. She is basically a combination of Superman and Iron Man with none of their weaknesses. They way she has been set up, there can't be too much for her to worry about as she is all powerful without anything that can really hurt her. That can get boring for an audience who knows that she will be just fine no matter the odds.  

By setting this film, we get to see Fury and Coulson at the beginning of their careers and it also explains their dynamic and later quirks as well. We also get to see other characters like Ronan the Accuser and Korath from The Guardians of the Galaxy, which is nice to see what they were like earlier too. Ben Mendelsohn is great as the surprisingly droll Skrull leader Talos. He gives a great performance even with all of the makeup covering his face. Jude Law also does a nice job in a fairly thankless role. I'm curious to see what direction the next film will take her as she gets more and more powerful. I'm hoping that Earth and some of her former friends living there will keep her somewhat grounded. 
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
While I can't compare this 1080p presentation to the 4K UHD, I will say that this Blu-ray offers a high quality transfer that is free from blemishes. Color is well served here and there is more detail present than you might expect for a 1080p offering. Black levels are suitably dark and stable and overall this is a very good transfer. I suspect the 4K is probably even better. 
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Captain Marvel's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless mix is also very good although it registers at a lower volume output than it should. I wish studios would balance their mixes so that you don't have to keep raising or lowering the volume throughout the film. Dialogue is clear and the sound effects are delivered nicely and accurately with the surround channels. This is a good mix but it could have been better. 
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
While there are a lot of extras included, they are all short and not as satisfying as you might hope that they would be.

Blu-ray & Digital: 
  • Alternate Movie Versions -
    • Movie with Intro – An introduction by directors/screenwriters Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
    • Movie with Commentary – Commentary by directors/screenwriters Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
  • Featurettes -
    • Becoming a Super Hero – Follow Brie Larson's journey as she joins the MCU, and see what it takes to be a Marvel Super Hero in every sense of the word.
    • Big Hero Moment – Explore how impactful Captain Marvel's entrance into the MCU is, and how she inspires audiences around the world. 
    • The Origin of Nick Fury – Witness some of the MCU’s most significant events through Nick Fury's eyes, and see how his influence helped shape the MCU.
    • The Dream Team – Discover why Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck are the perfect pair to direct Marvel Studios’ most powerful hero.
    • The Skrulls and the Kree – Take a deeper look into the Skrulls and the Kree, their ongoing conflict, and the importance of shifting perspectives in the film.
    • Hiss-sterical Cat-titude – The cast and crew dish on working with Goose and the raw talent it takes to portray such a complex character on-screen.
  • Deleted Scenes -
    • “Who Do You Admire Above All Others?” - Kree Commander Yon-Rogg must answer to the Supreme Intelligence, who questions his leadership ability.
    • Starforce Recruits - Yon-Rogg lectures a roomful of students on the Kree's mission to defend all nations from the scourge of the Skrulls.
    • Heading to Torfa - Vers (Danvers) and her fellow Starforce members banter as they prepare for their rescue mission to Torfa.
    • “What, No Smile?” - In this alternate version of a scene from the movie, Vers is consulting a map when she receives a dubious offer of assistance.
    • Black Box - Keller attempts to track Vers and Fury after their escape in a quadjet from the Joint USAFA Facility.
    • Rookie Mistake - Novice S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson helps Director Keller out of an embarrassing situation.
  • Gag Reel - The fate of the universe hangs in the balance as the cast battles props, flubs and Flerkens in these outtakes from the set.
Digital Exclusives:
  • Journey into Visual Effects with Victoria Alonso - Experience how filmmakers' visions of the MCU come to life on-screen through the skill of the Visual Effects team.
  • What Makes a Memory: Inside the “Mind Frack” - What does it take to craft an action-packed sequence for a Marvel Studios film? Nothing short of an epic team effort!
  • Concept Art - Explore artwork from “Captain Marvel” and trace the visual development of characters.
  • On-Set Images - Uncover a trove of behind-the-scenes and production photography.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Captain Marvel is an enjoyable movie and it's great to go back into time to see some of our favorite characters before they became the heroes or villains we know. I wish Black Widow had been the first female fronted Marvel movie as she deserves it, but this film isn't a bad substitute. The cast is good in their roles and it's a fun movie. 

Order your copy today!

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