Posted on November 9, 2023 at 5:24 pmB
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Middle School|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated PG-13 for action violence and brief language|
|Profanity:||Brief strong language|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Extended comic book/action-style violence, references to genocide|
|Diversity Issues:||Diverse characters|
|Date Released to Theaters:||November 10, 2023|
“The Marvels” is not your father’s superhero movie. If you don’t want to see superheroes cry or apologize, skip this one. If you’re looking for grand-scale, innovative action sequences with wow-inspiring special effects, maybe wait for “Dead Reckoning; Part 2.’ In other words, “The Marvels” is not what many ticket-buyers and comic book fans look for in an Avengers movie. But for those who are looking for something other than the usual CGI superpowers, it has some satisfying pleasures.
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) can be a problematic character because even in the world of superheroes, she is the first among equals. She can pretty much do anything and has very little in the way of a kryptonite-style vulnerability. That is why she is the Marvel version of the Lone Ranger, used only sparingly in the Avengers movie, with the explanation that she is so powerful her highest and best use is somewhere out in the galaxy. There is such a thing sa being too super; it means the stakes are not dire enough to be interesting. So her vulnerabilities are one internal — some memory loss — and one external — she has made mistakes with tragic consequences. What made the first Captain Marvel movie its superpower was the realization that what she had been taught about who were the good and bad guys was not true.
As “The Marvels” begins, Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers is using a memory band to try to restore the blank spots. Meanwhile, Monica Rambeau (Teyhonah Harris of “Chi-Raq” and “They Cloned Tyrone”), the daughter of Carol’s best friend, has grown up and is an astronaut. She also has some superpowers involving electrical energy. Also meanwhile, Kamala Kahn (the adorable Iman Vellani from the Disney+ series) is a high school student with powers that are also elextricity-based, thanks to a cuff bracelet she was given by her grandmother. When she is not doing her homework, spending time with her close-knit Pakistani-American family, or saving the day, she creates fan-fiction about joining forces with her idol, Captain Marvel.Her comic strips are amusingly animated for us to enjoy.
and *also* meanwhile, we have Dar-Benn, played by Zawe Ashton. She has Kintsugi’d teeth and the indispensable quality of a supervillain, an imperious British accent (though very far from “Mr. Malcolm’s List”). Ashton is really underused here, stuck with a one-note villain role that has her more petulant than evil. Also, even by comic book standards, that is an unimpressive name. After what appears to be a long and arduous search, she has found one super-power-granting cuff bracelet, and now must locate the other one of the pair, the one currently on the wrist of a Pakistani-American teenager. Dar-Benn wants to use the power of the bracelets to save her people, and if that means wiping out another group of refugees, no problem, perhaps a side benefit.
Somehow, whatever tear Dar-Benn has made in the fabric of the universe or time or reality or all three leads to a very entertaining glitch. Captain Marvel, Monica, and Kamala discover that when they use their powers at the same time, they switch places. So Captain Marvel finds herself in a teenager’s suburban bedroom and Monica (who, like Captain Marvel, can fly) and Kamala (who cannot, though she can create presumed energy blocks that can help protect her from a fall) find themselves in Captain Marvel’s spaceship or outside of Nick Fury’s outpost.
Finally the three Marvels get together, with Goose, the cat-appearing Flerken, and go after those “surges in the jump point systems” that lead to Dar-Benn.
So, be aware: this movie is more about relationships than bam-pow-chase-explosion. There is crying and there are apologies and even some praying. There’s one scene that is so over-the-top it involves the word “princess” and singing. Goose gets into some Tribble-ific territory with a song from “Cats” on the soundtrack. I was into it; many people will not be.
NOTE: Watch the credits for one extra scene.
Parents should know that this film includes some strong language and extended comic book-style action and peril with characters injured and killed (or killed-ish). There is a situation where not everyone can be saved, and it is handled clumsily.
Family discussion: Should Carol have gone home as she promised? Why didn’t she? What do you think the legal issue was on the ocean planet?
If you like this, try: the other “Captain Marvel” movies, the “Ms. Marvel” series, and the comic books