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George At 

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Captain Marvel

About 90 minutes into CAPTAIN MARVEL, I was thinking "this isn't even going to be in my top half of Marvel movies...maybe the bottom three" but damned if the last half hour pull together into a terrific finale.

But you do have to wander through the first 90 minutes.

The opening is terrific, with a Stan Lee devoted Marvel title sequence that's a heartfelt tribute to the man and his legacy.

Then we roll into an unfocused/incoherent set up of the warring alien hero race of which Vers (Brie Larson) is a rising member. She and her team, led by Yon-Rogg (the always capable Jude Law) are battling the shape-shifting invaders who are about to threaten Earth. It's all rather dull and tired until Veers lands on Earth, crashing into a 1995 Blockbuster Video Store and blowing up a "True Lies" standup. I got excited thinking that the film was going to be filled with fun references to the 90's, but other than one or two songs and a good gag about what we used to consider acceptable loading times on a computer, the movie doesn't really bother to capitalize on the setting. It's a miss.

Almost immediately upon her arrival, we meet a very young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Both have been digitally rendered to be twenty years younger and the effects are perfect. Jackson has a blast and it's nice to see Gregg get some screen time for Shield.

When it's clear that the shape-shifters have arrived in 1995 along with Vers, several good chase set pieces arrive, including a "French Connection" style car and train chase that's the best sequence of the first 90 minutes.

Larson is very good, creating a new Marvel character with promise, but it's a shame she's given so little to do for most of the movie.

Her rapport with Jackson is effortless, but it often feels more like a Nick Fury origin story than a Captain Marvel film.

Thankfully, we finally creep along to the terrific final half hour. Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, Ready Player One) is excellent as Talos, infusing menace, drama and humor into his role.

But damned if the movie isn't absolutely stolen by Goose the cat. That creature drops more laugh out loud fun into the proceedings than I thought possible. Hilarious.

Brie really comes into her own in the finale. It seems like the writers finally take off the shackles and give her the reins, which she takes gladly, owning the conclusion. Too bad there are so few surprises along with way. The big twists should be obvious to anyone over 10 years old long before they happen.

There are two post credits scenes, the first one is goose-bump inducing and the direct tie into Avengers: Endgame that you've been waiting for. It's perfection.

The second one is pure laughs.

Thankfully this one recovered, or it would be sitting alongside "Thor: The Dark World" at the bottom of the Avengers heap. Still, rather meh...

Wonder Woman still stands as THE way to launch a female superhero, its a far better film.


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