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I don’t hate it. That’s hardly a glowing recommendation or proof Marvel Studios has recaptured the magic. But Marvel Studio’s latest flick “The Marvels” has plenty of charm and solid action. For me that’s enough, but I imagine plenty will note the glaring problems.
We’ve seen films about singular superheroes and teams uniting. “The Marvels,” however, is the first true team-up, equally concerned with all three of its leads and titled accordingly.
This one serves as a sequel to a feature film and two Disney+ series. Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) continues her mission to stop the Kree empire from oppressing alien species. Meanwhile Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who earned her powers confronting the Scarlet Witch in “WandaVision,” conducts investigations in space for S.A.B.E.R., a new kind of S.H.I.E.L.D. agency designed to protect Earth from galactic foes.
For Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), no time has passed since she earned her powers and took on her first nemeses in “Ms. Marvel.” All is well until Kree baddie Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) uncovers a wrist bangle similar to the one that unlocked Kamala’s powers. Once Dar-Benn dons it, our three heroines become entwined.
“Ms. Marvel” teased this last year when Kamala closes a room door with her powers only to vanish, replaced by a confused Captain Marvel. That keeps happening amongst all three who must work together to stop the Kree and break their connection.
This is Iman Vellani’s world, and we just live in it. In her debut Disney+ series and here, she steals every scene. Charm, wit and humor balance nicely with her unique powers. Certainly, some folks continue to bemoan Marvel Studio’s decision to give her powers similar to Green Lantern, not her stretching abilities akin to Mr. Fantastic. But the change plays nicely with the film’s unique rationale for uniting the trio.
Both Larson and Parris enjoy their own moments, especially during fight sequences, sporting some emotional flair and solid chemistry. As for Ashton as the villain, we have yet another forgettable foe. I’m not sure why Marvel keeps doing this, but it really needs to stop.
A forgettable villain isn’t the only problem. Somebody apparently took too many cues from “Thor: Love and Thunder” and embraced some cringey choices, like encountering an alien species that sings to communicate. I love a good musical, but this ain’t it. Give me a full two-hour Marvel off-Broadway romp, not something this out of place.
Then there’s an overblown subplot about a whole lotta cats. The latter choice, without spoiling anything, builds on a fun tidbit from the first film. It just goes too far. It frankly feels like all the pop culture references (including a David Hasselhoff cameo) in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” that limit that one’s appeal. Luckily those bad choices don’t last long, but they do sit and digest in the wrong way.
Stylistically, this is vanilla stuff. Mind you, Marvel doesn’t like to call attention to any of its films’ editing or cinematography, preferring transparent production. That makes “The Marvels” almost experimental with its use of animation early on and split screens resembling comic book panels. But such elements don’t occur with any consistency to warrant successful execution. They’re merely aberrations amidst a film with very little visual style, much like its predecessors.
One thing that works incredibly well: action sequences. When the fight moves between three locations, the trio teleporting with each use of their powers, the scenes work incredibly well. And unlike “Captain Marvel,” there’s plenty of action to go around.
“Captain Marvel” is a film, while its sequel works a whole better, flaws and all. It might be DOA at the box office, but that doesn’t make it a bad film. Bad marketing, trolls, lack of interest – who knows? Regardless, it’s a fun flick with a few warts and another incredible performance from Vellani.