Film: The Marvels
Director: Nia DaCosta
Cast: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Park Seo-jun, Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Mohan Kapur, Zenobia Shroff, Saagar Shaikh
The Marvels, a follow-up to Captain Marvel, co-scripted and directed by former podcaster Nia Dacosta, is the latest offering from the Marvel cinematic universe. The film feels rather discontinuous and all over the place. It is, in fact, the closest you could come to a comic-book experience. Don’t know if that was intended though. Given the previous cinematic overtures from the Marvel Universe, this film feels like a poor cousin.
Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a beaming-eyed Pakistani-American teenage mutant ninja fangirl, who also imagines herself part of a team with her idol, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is zapped into a spaceship, where she takes the place of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), a superhero astronaut, while Carol, finds herself in the Khan family living room, fighting off a Kree soldier. Carol, Monica and Kamala keep interchanging positions all through the movie, making room for pure bedlam.
The plot seems a little confused, and underdeveloped, and there are story threads that just don’t carry through. Even the underlying themes are not presented in an invigorating or memorable fashion. While the trio is out to save the world, The Krees are looking to reignite their sun and save their planet from extinction. So, there’s no clear-cut good and bad here. The so-called villain, Dar-Benn, played by Zawe Ashton, does not have much to do. We don’t see much character development. The characters don’t assume life-or-death expressions even when the situations demand them to. Nothing registers really. We don’t even see any moral struggles that we’ve come to expect from traditional Marvel superheroes. Captain Marvel does hint at it, but it’s all lost in the splashy action.
The leaps in tone, and episodic nature of the narrative with flashbacks thrown in, feel jarring. It’s also quite hard to take the film seriously when Captain Marvel can power through everything and yet struggles to fend off foot soldiers from Kree. The idea of the power swaps was cool, but their execution left a lot to be desired.
Nia DaCosta choreographs some of the fight scenes definitively, but the overall VFX does feel substandard for the cinematic universe. The quirky and annoying humour may seem goofy, but the side quests that emerge as the narrative plays along do not make much sense.
The writing is not too strong and the direction manages to create a few exciting moments, enough to signify this as a bearable mess. This is a film written, helmed and fronted by women. Even the villain is female. So, the point-of-view is different from the testosterone-fueled male gaze we’ve been fortified on. Nick Fury played by Samuel L Jackson doesn’t have much to contribute here. The trio of women fronting this show does have engaging chemistry. Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris do well to stay focused within this chaotic narrative, but it’s really Iman Vellani who steals the show with her earnest fangirl moments and fresh vivacity.