The Marvels (2023)
The Marvels (2023)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Release Date: November 10th, 2023 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Nia DaCosta Actors: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Seo-Jun Park

 


 

16

year-old Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) daydreams away her afternoons in Jersey City, imagining fighting crime and saving the world alongside her idol, superhero Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). The young girl gets a shot at making her dreams a reality when strange disturbances in wormhole “jump points” across the galaxy cause her and astronaut Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to mysteriously teleport and swap places with Captain Marvel whenever their light-based powers are activated. When Carol, with the support of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his S.A.B.E.R. defense space station, uncovers the source of the space-time anomalies, she must team up with both Kamala and Monica to fight a dangerous foe determined to destroy everything she holds dear.

The editing style (and animation techniques) of the opening sequence remind of the Spider-Verse, as do some of the flashbacks that populate the introductory moments to refresh audiences on previous affairs. It hardly matters, however, as the setup is just another random kid with accidental superpowers discovering an opportunity to utilize them amid a world of other superheroes with largely unexplainable, haphazardly assigned, indeterminate abilities. Even Carol’s backstory doesn’t need to be remembered; she’s essentially invincible and her powers are undefined and unequaled.

“It’s the Kree!” A smorgasbord of computer-animated and CG-augmented effects blaze across the screen, often paired with preposterous sci-fi jargon and harebrained schemes devised at the last possible second. Even here, thickly mixed in with “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”-like environments and entities, the farfetchedness is troubling. Characters behave as if no action has consequences, routinely cracking jokes or making light of their situations; they’re scripted to be incredibly insincere and unserious. It doesn’t help that everyone is impervious to harm, therefore reenforcing the notion that they’re never in any real trouble. Toward the conclusion, when a character gets stabbed, it’s actually surprising; previously, it appeared as if no one was even susceptible to having their makeup smudged.

As a result, the action sequences – especially those with hand-to-hand combat or gunfights (or the equivalent, of discharging energy bolts from fingertips) – feel utterly meaningless and unstimulating. While the heroes duke it out unscathed, the supporting human roles should all be slaughtered with ease – yet, of course, they frequently engage in battle themselves, miraculously evading unavoidable demises. And those heroes are strangely unsympathetic, confused, and unknowledgeable; when everyone has unspecified, otherworldly capabilities that can be employed to do anything they may need in the moment (although they’re seemingly powerless in the face of enemies, exactly when those opponents must conduct some poignant villainy), the writers are back to the stage where no one is really special. Massive amounts of destruction and booming music aren’t enough to put a dent in the tedium of worthless hostilities. “What is a quantum band?”

The chance to feature three lead female characters (girl power!) is worthwhile, but these personas are so poorly scripted that audiences will surely feel the grating lack of chemistry and creativity. Merging Disney Princess vibes with the uninspiring teamwork of “Ghostbusters” (2016) – making room for childish montages as if a teen romcom – proves to be cringe-inducing, even when a couple of cute ideas stand out from the silliness. In the end, as an isolated adventure that has little impact on the surrounding Marvel universe (the tech continues to advance for Fury’s people, almost as a way for the Avengers et al to disappear into the background unnoticed), “The Marvels” becomes an entirely extraneous episode, overflowing with plenty of the same stuff from before, but offering far less pizzazz. And the spontaneous solutions to purposeless predicaments reveal an immensely pointless plot; reality-compromising conflicts are irrelevant when they can be corrected by simply rattling off an arbitrary answer, to be executed immediately with no preparation or specific resources. “Can we even fix that?”

– The Massie Twins

  • 2/10