Captain Marvel Makes a Human (Not a Feminist) Statement

Captain Marvel is a superhero also known as Carol Danvers. Before she became Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers was a fighter pilot. A human with quirks, vulnerabilities and friendships. As a superhero Captain Marvel has a streaming light source that courses through her body and makes her a powerful fighter. In Captain Marvel the film, Captain Marvel learns to understand and appreciate these two parts of herself.

Marvel is a woman, and her former sidekick and boss were also women. Marvel has little problem beating up men and male aliens. This setting and characterisation is a great platform for a feminist statement. And yet Captain Marvel is not that. The film makes more of a comment about ordinary people who become heroes. It’s just that the main character in this story happens to be a woman.

I liked that. It’s not a film about women proving who they are. Or about women being better than men. Or women being just as good as men in male-dominated roles. It’s as if Captain Marvel has leapfrogged over aggressive feminist debates to a future world where women, and men, are just humans (or in this case superheroes).

There are problems with the film. From the jarring over-the-top, future-world, Star-Trek like sequences in the beginning it’s a relief when Marvel, followed by warring Skrulls and Krees, arrives on Earth (planet C53). And yet this change in scenery is also a plot weakness. It’s as if the superhero stuff in the beginning couldn’t be believably sustained and so the story switches to something audiences can easily identify with.

But plenty of lighthearted humour in the explosive outer-world scenes and in the down-to-earth ones, do make Captain Marvel fun to watch. Marvel (Brie Larson) herself is quite funny, and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), a cop that Marvel teams up with, is very amusing. As is a sweet ginger cat who is not quite as he would seem, and who travels into space with Marvel and her cohorts.

I enjoyed Captain Marvel. The film opens at cinemas in South Africa on 8 March 2019.

Incredibles 2

The Incredibles are back with a new adventure. In this second instalment Mr and Mrs Incredible (Parr) combine family life with disaster

Image supplied by Ster Kinekor

prevention and advocating for the rights of superheroes. This time around it’s Helen Parr (Elastigirl) who brings home the bacon, while hubby, Bob, stays home to look after the kids. The latter is exhausting for Bob as he deals with teenage angst from Violet, homework challenges with Dash, and the emerging superhero talents of baby Jack-Jack. Helen begins work for a superhero advocate but is soon up against a dodgy ‘screenslaver’ who hypnotizes goodies into doing his (or her?) bidding. When both Mr and Mrs Incredible get into an impossible situation it’s up to Violet , Dash and Jack-Jack to set things right.

Themes of women’s rights, stay-at-home dads, children’s contributions in an adult world, and overuse of screen time run throughout this Pixar animated feature which is as much for adults as it is for children. Edna Mode, the inimitable superhero fashion designer, makes another marvellous appearance.

Incredibles 2 opens at cinemas in South Africa today 15 June 2018.

Miss Peregrine is Scary and Clever

This children’s movie, which opened in South Africa on Friday 7 October, carries an age restriction of 10. Parents should consider this a good guideline as younger children would certainly be frightened of the story’s long-legged monsters that pluck out people’s eyes, most especially those of children…

Age 10 to early teens is also a suitable-enough age to understand the intricacies and setting of this tale. The adventure revolves around Jake (Asa Butterfield) who is an awkward, modern-day teenager without friends. Jake is quite attached to his grandad (Terence Stamp) who tells him fascinating, true “bedtime” stories. When Jake’s grandad is murdered under mysterious circumstances the old man manages to pass on to the boy an important message before he breathes his last. Jake, accompanied by his unbelieving dad (Chris O’Dowd), travels from Florida to Wales, to try and fathom the cryptic message’s meaning. What follows is an enthralling account of time-travel, children endowed with peculiar, yet special, gifts, and a carer called Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) who keeps her wards safe in a time loop. Jake is welcomed into the crowd of odd children because he, too, has a peculiar and indispensable gift, one he uses to protect the children later in the story. The villain presents himself as Barron (a glassy-eyed Samuel L. Jackson) who seeks immortality through slurping up eyeballs.

I think young viewers may not relate to the World War II setting (Miss Peregrine and her children are stuck in a time loop in Wales that dates back to 1943). Also, some of the action, especially in the beginning, is a little dull. Things improve, though, as the story progresses. Messages of acceptance, the value of loyalty, and finding one’s place in the world come through easily enough. And the cleverness of this child-led story will certainly captivate some imaginative young viewers.

The film is being screened in 2D and 3D.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier reminicent and too violent

A review by Brenda Daniels

Captain America faces many foes in this Marvel production of the superhero which is due for release in South Africa this week. The enemies come in several guises and our hero has a hard time telling friend from foe.

Played by handsome Chris Evans, Steve Rogers is, however, able to trust Natasha (a slim, red-headed Scarlett Johansson) and an out-of-shape Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Together they fight the mysterious Winter Soldier, the brains behind this super soldier, and ultimately the threat to freedom itself.

An exciting car chase featuring a battle-scarred Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury is good to watch. Some giant machines designed for world-domination, lots of fight scenes and a good versus evil plot make for entertaining viewing – particularly in IMAX 3D.

But the fighting seemed over the top to me and too violent, even for a superhero. And the Captain’s bemoaning of the good old days at the beginning of the film got a bit tiresome. For our hero the “good old days” meant the freedom that America espoused. It was this that he felt ultimately called to defend; a good bit of “democracy” propaganda I liked least of all.

The film concludes satisfyingly open ended so fans can look forward to a sequel.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens at Ster Kinekor Theatres in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX on Friday 28 March. It carries an age restriction of PG13.

Chris Evans on set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans on set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

 

Scarlett Johansson at a press release for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Scarlett Johansson at a press release for Captain America: The Winter Soldier