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Captain Marvel (IMAX in some cinemas)


Stars: Brie Larsen, Samuel L Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Djimon Hounsou, Clark Gregg, Mckenna Grace, Akira Akbar, Lee Pace. Guest appearances by Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Mackie

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Stan Lee, co-creator of the Marvel superhero universe, who died last year at 95, is paid tribute here with a series of images in the opening Marvel logo, but the feisty old nonagenarian would surely have wished to go out on a more thrilling note than this lacklustre and ponderous prequel to the Avengers stories, which includes Lee's final cameo appearance.

The story runs like a Star Trek reject, but at least has plenty of action, plus scene-stealing appearances from Ben Mendelsohn and a ginger cat with alien tendencies. The lithe and vigorous if (here) charisma-free Larsen is Vers, a Kree warrior in a galaxy far, far away, plagued by blinding flashes of her previous life as a pilot on Planet Earth. Right now, under the command of Yon-Rogg (Law), she's part of a small advance force sent to repel a border infringement by the Skrulls, hideous, big-eared green creatures cannily led by Talos (Mendelsohn).

Captured and tortured by the Skrulls, who extract her memories in a bid to locate a powerful missing core, Vers ends up back on Earth in 1991, where she encounters SHIELD boss Nick Fury (Jackson, bizarrely CGI'd to look plastically younger), as well as a group of the shapeshifting Skrulls.

Though it may keep aficionados happy, there are a lot of very ordinary performances in this one, topped (or should it be bottomed?) by Pace as Supreme Intelligence Ronan.

Bening, as a scientist who turns out to have blue blood, does do what she can with a part that requires her to do the same sort of thing over and again. And there's lots of hurtling around in spaceships, though little of it really stirs the blood, as well as a little humour, some of it unintentional.

It's also great to see a female lead, but it is surely high time, on the other hand, that we were given a really good Marvel movie.

David Quinlan

USA 2019. UK Distributor: Disney. Technicolor.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 05 Mar 2019