The Marvels Movie Review: Just a little bit higher, further, faster

The Marvels may not impress the jaded MCU fan, but there's enough wow factor in here that makes it a fun distraction at the movies.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) returns to our screens in less than agreeable circumstances. She has to deal with the awkwardness of coming back in the life of her niece Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), now a full-fledged superhero working for Nick Fury. She has to also deal with her powers being forcibly entangled with Monica's as well as one Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel. Not only that, but she also bears the guilt of her actions dooming an entire civilization, and a reckoning arrives in the form of the Kree warrior Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), who has made it her life's work to burn everything Carol loves to the ground in order to restore her home planet Hala to its former glory.

A lot has been said about Brie Larson's performance in the first Captain Marvel movie, so to see her stretch her legs in The Marvels is a pleasant surprise. Larson's cardboard cutout personality as Carol Danvers in the first film is nowhere to be seen, replaced with a more vibrant performance that makes her more likable this time around.

Adding to Carol's burgeoning mythos is her biggest fan, Kamala Khan, played to perfection by Iman Vellani. Vellani shines in The Marvels, her enthusiasm charming and infectious, and she lends a breath of fresh, exciting air to even the dullest moments. If this is the future of the MCU, I can't wait to see what's next! Rounding off the Marvelous trio is Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, who effortlessly carries the weight of both emotional scenes and superheroic action. The chemistry of the three leads makes for compelling cinema, and just watching these three superheroes banter, bicker, and beat the shit out of bad guys is worth the price of admission alone.

But while Captain Marvel managed to shrug off her drab reputation, her latest nemesis gleefully picked it up and wore it like a badge of honor. Dar-Benn joins Malekith as one of the MCU's most boring villains, which is a waste of Zawe Ashton's talents. She grits and gnashes her way through the movie with unearned importance, and the challenge she provides our heroes just amounts to hitting her harder than they did the last time. There's a hint of a deeper character underneath all the gritted teeth, but there's simply not enough time in the movie to flesh it out.

And therein lies the rub. Clocking in at 1 hour and 45 minutes, The Marvels is the shortest MCU movie ever, and so our heroes go through the plot at a pace too fast for you to chew on all the interesting ideas they serve. And while the leads are incredibly entertaining and the action better than expected, The Marvels comes off as both half-baked and too busy.

Still, I had fun. And these days fun is in short supply. The Marvels may not be that amazing of a ride, but at least it's a mercifully short one.

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