Archive for March, 2019

I had planned posting this just after seeing the movie, but then life happened and so, here I am. Just pretend like this is all new and exciting.

And so it has come to pass… After all these posts about Brie Larson movies, good and bad (the movies, not the posts. They were all bad.), we have come to the ultimate Brie Larson movie, her big-budget, franchise-launching, starring role of Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel. And after all the stupid, silly, inane controversies (Smile-gate, Rotten Tomatoes’ review trolls, the cat’s real name, etc.), the movie has arrived, and kicked all those asshole, do-nothing crybabies right in the nuts, to the tune of a $911 million worldwide gross (so far).

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And what did I think, after all these long-winded posts? In this day-and-age of everyone with a website or Youtube channel spouting their opinions, do you really want to know? Well, if you’re still reading, I guess you do, so here we go: this white guy enjoyed it.

Now, I will be the first to say that there has never been a perfect movie, and this isn’t the first one. The middle gets a little slow, as a lot of movies do. Some of the jokes fall flat. A few of the nineties songs from the soundtrack are too on the nose (I’m looking at you, No Doubt!). But overall, the action was great, the pacing of the movie was exceptionally good, and it fits very well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has a powerful new hero… and it’s a girl! The great thing to me was that she just happened to be a girl. The over-arching theme, the fact that she had been under the thumb of her Kree brethren (who weren’t her brethren at all, really), and that her mentor (Jude Law) was keeping her from reaching her true potential, could have easily happened to any protagonist, regardless of gender. I’ve seen and heard reviews where people are delighted that Captain Marvel had a female bestie, or how cool it was that she had no male love interest to drive her to greatness (a’la Wonder Woman). But that’s not really the point of the movie for me. Let’s face it, in just about every movie with a female protagonist, the main character has a female best friend, and every movie with a male protagonist, he has a female love interest, so whatever. It’s all Hollywood window dressing. Why try to make it into some kind of beacon of hope for feminism?

The point of this, and hopefully, most action movies, is to tell a decent story with relatable characters and make it fun. I spend a great part of my life over-thinking movies, mostly because I know how much work goes into making them, so when I’m disappointed, I’m really disappointed. But even this film snob can just kick back and be entertained for two hours. That’s why I like so many Marvel movies. (As a sidenote; two hours and eight minutes was the perfect length for this movie. For the story they were telling, any longer would have been too much. Much shorter and it would have seemed like something was left out. By comparison, Wonder Woman, at 2 hours and 21 minutes, seemed way too long. The entire climactic battle seemed like it lasted almost three hours.)

Just a couple other quick notes before Dursin’s Final Thoughts; I didn’t love the fact that Nick Fury lost his eye to a cat scratch. It was predictable and silly (but I suppose if we didn’t see how he lost his eye, people would have complained about that, too.) I did like that they brought back the Tesseract as the maguffin here, as that has been a thread running through three Marvel movies now, until Thanos just crushes it to reveal that it houses an Infinity Stone, which makes him seem that much for of a bad-ass to me. I did not love the whole Supreme Intelligence thing. I guess I get the fact that they didn’t want to animate a gross, green blob and say that it was the representation of the brains of all the Kree, or whatever. And having it be a manifestation of someone you know fit with their story, but they probably could have come up with a better way to reveal Carol’s true origin. “Supreme Intelligence” seems like some they came up with in the comics in the 70’s that just doesn’t translate to movies in 2019 (Hell, they changed “Cosmic Cube” to “Tesseract” because it sounded cooler. They couldn’t come up with something cooler than “Supreme Intelligence?”

Finally, I loved the fact that there was no knock-down, drag-out fight at the end between Marvel and Jude Law. as cinema-goers, we’re sort of conditioned to think that it should happen, so to have her just blast the heck out of him not only was a nice surprise, but it fit with the story that they were telling (that he was keeping her down all this time, and she really is that damn powerful.) Not only did it make sense, plot-wise, but it made sense cinematically, because a long, drawn-out fight that you know she is going to win anyway would have just slowed everything down and made the movie longer and less fun (Sorry to pick on you, Wonder Woman, but that is where you fell apart for me.) Prove that she is mighty, and move your movie along to the end. Everybody wins!

In the world we have constructed for ourselves, people like to talk about stuff, and I’m the first one to fall for click-bait like, “Brie Larson says she hates white dudes.” And I honestly don’t know anyone who saw this movie and felt like it changed society’s mind on female representation in movies. Maybe they’re out there somewhere, and I’m sure they will be a sequel before too long, so that’s probably a good indication. But what I have heard is a lot of people saying that this was just a basic, decent, fun story. Of course, there are critics, as there always are. But with all the controversy coming in, “Do No Harm,” was a pretty good bar to set, and I think it beat those expectations by quite a bit. I feel like if you like most of the Marvel movies, you will enjoy this one. If you don’t, or if you’re an angry white guy who too much free time, then you should skip it. Obviously, the movie didn’t need your money, anyway.

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Honestly, I don’t know what else to say. I found Captain Marvel entertaining, and am anxious to see her in Avengers: Endgame next month. So, good on ya, Marvel! You got me!

 

I don’t think it will change anyone’s mind on feminism, or even lead to more diversity in the film industry, but we really shouldn’t rely on our action movies to make societal changes, anyway. Let’s just enjoy them for what they are.

This is the end of my Brie Larson blogging for awhile (unless her directoral debut blows me away). It’s been fun analyzing movies and movie culture through her work, but it’s time to move on. Check back for some new stuff, if I can come up with anything. Thanks for reading, which you probably didn’t. But if you did, I hope it gave you a little food for thought.

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Hmmmm…

 

 

 

I’m hoping I can get this done before Thursday, because the plan all along was to get to this movie before Captain Marvel, and that is fast approaching. I already have my tickets, despite the fact that I’m a white male and apparently, I’m supposed to not want to see it, like all these idiots. Reading all this negative press actually really makes me glad I jumped on this wagon a long, long time ago. Some people think this is going to impact the gross, but we’ll know by Sunday, so fingers crossed the bad guys don’t win this one.

Speaking of bad guys not winning, I give you the grand poo-bah or the entire Brie Larson canon, Room, the one that won her a well-deserved Oscar and critical acclaim, and made myself and a lot of other people realize that this girl has chops. If you haven’t seen it, well, I’m sorry but the statute of limitations on spoilers has run out. Get on it, but bring the box of tissues.

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In Room, Larson plays 24 year-old Joy, who was kidnapped as a teenager and has been held captive in a shed for the last seven years. She lives there with her five year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who is the off-spring of Joy and her captor. Jack has obviously never seen the outside, and has come to think of his shed as basically the whole world, even calling it “Room” with affection.

For someone who was abducted and forced to live over a third of her life in captivity, Joy8e1e4749-e606-4703-83d3-edbd17d04320 is an amazing mother, and has become quite adept at giving her son the best life possible, while actually shielding him from their horrible existence, even building sort of fort in the closet for Jack to hide in when their captor, “Old Nick,” comes to force himself upon her. She basically tells Jack that Room is the world and everything else is just TV Land.

If this isn’t enough to make you realize that the world is a terrible place, it gets remarkably worse. Old Nick cuts off their heat and power, which heightens Joy’s depression but also gives her an opportunity. She has Jack fake a fever to try to convince Old Nick to take him to a doctor. When he refuses, she then asks Jack to play dead, and wraps him in a carpet and forces Nick to take the body away in the back of his pick-up truck. Once they are in the safety of a residential neighborhood, Jack, despite his inexperience with the outside world, jumps out of the back of the pick-up and runs for help. He tells a passerby about the situation, they then call the cops, and Joy is rescued and Old Nick is arrested. I should note that this is a fairly simplified explanation of how they escaped. It’s actually way cooler than I make it sound. Larson’s desperation in this scene is truly Oscar-worthy, as she explains to Jack how he can engineer their escape without really telling him that’s what they are doing (because why would they escape this place that she never told him was necessarily bad?)

Now, if this were some shitty, Lifetime movie (or shitty movie in general), that would be the end, right? Damsel-in-distress rescued! Child no longer in peril! Evil-doer punished! Whoo-hoo! But that’s not how real life works is it? The real Joy would need to actually live the rest of her life, and even at five, the real Jack would need to learn a lot about the world. And it is not easy. In fact, Joy discovers that during her captivity, her parents split up. The family that she was looking forward to rejoining for seven years is no more (Her father can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that he has a grandchild, and leaves). And to put a real damper on things, Jack actually misses Room, and cries when informed that he will never be going back, because the home you live in as a child will always be your home, no matter how long you lived there and how often you move. All of this horror does even more of a number on Joy, who begins to struggle with depression and gets downright angry about how difficult this all is, almost in a “The devil you know…” kind of way. She then reluctantly agrees to a television interview, and it really hits the fan when the interviewer asks her why she decided to keep infant Jack rather than asking Old Nick to take him to a hospital, where he would have had a shot at a (more) normal life. The overwhelming guilt causes her to attempt suicide, and she is admitted to a hospital.

Jack is now separated from his mother for the first time in his life. he begins to assimilate, even meeting a boy his age from the neighborhood. He believes that his hair will give Joy strength to recover, and asks his grandfather to cut it off and send it to her. Joy does actually recover, and is sent home (not sure if it was the hair specifically, but still…). She thanks Jack for saving her life again, unequivocally stating that he was the only thing that kept her going all those years in captivity, and that was the only reason she didn’t have Nick take him away. The final scene shows Joy and Jack visiting Room one last time to say good-bye, along with a police escort. Jack sees it in a different light now, from the outside in, seeing how much smaller it looks that way. It’s the childhood equivalent of going back to your grammar school and realizing how small and insignificant it really is. But the closure is important, and the inference is that now they will be okay.

Now, I need to say right now that I didn’t love this ending, and in fact, I didn’t really like this whole second part of the movie after they escape. As someone who watches and analyzes and over-analyzes movies, I thought this was actually an example of bad writing. I thought that they weren’t giving the audience what they wanted, somehow. It took me thinking about it for months after, and even thinking it over as I was writing this, that made me realize that I wasn’t supposed to like it, that I was supposed to be disturbed by it, that I was supposed to think about it for months after seeing it. It’s definitely disturbing, but also inspiring the way Joy tries to give Jack as happy a life as possible. The scene where they both scream at the wall is almost cute, until you stop and realize that Joy is just letting out her aggression. There are so many emotions at play in this story, and that is what really bothered me, because emotions can be hard, and when movies make me feel things this deeply, it’s really just easy to write it off as bad writing that is just trying to manipulate me. It’s a lot harder to process your feelings about what was really going on.

To close this out, what was really going on was that Brie Larson was giving an Oscar-winning performance. Now, I’ve always criticized the trend in Oscar winners where they have to be from weepy dramas and have conquered some great adversity, but this one transcends that trend. This was the performance that really opened everyone’s eyes to this talented actress, and opened doors, as well. Coming April 5th, Unicorn Store, her directorial debut on Netflix, and in mere hours, Captain Freakin’ Marvel! I’m sure I’ll get around to writing about that one, but if not, you’ll probably hear me yelling about it from a mountaintop. Stay tuned.MV5BNzUxOTQxMDQyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTg0MDQwNzM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,744_AL_.jpg