Make way for “Captain Marvel”!
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2019; PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language; streaming via Amazon Video/Prime, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, iTunes, Movies Anywhere (4K) Vudu (4K), YouTube
Best extra: Six featurettes that create a making-of experience
HERE IT comes – another Marvel Universe superhero origin movie, full of action and fun, snappy dialogue, and splendid effects. It’s also one of the most divisive flicks to come out since the Marvel comic book heroes arrived on the big screen.
Viewers either love it or hate it. Count me in the “love” column. Brie Larson brings a lot of life to former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers. Her character first arrives on screen as a mystery. Eventually, we learn she has survived a crash that altered her DNA and gave her super strength, energy projection and the nearly "leap tall buildings in a single bound." Later, there will be flying. She is introduced as Vers, a member of an elite Kree military team, but has nightmares flashing back to her human identity on Earth. “Ah-ha,” says the audience. “We know she’s really human. We saw the previews. Besides, aren’t the Kree bad guys? Remember ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’?”
Right! Pretty soon we’ll catch sight of big blue Ronan (Lee Pace) himself in hologram form. Next, Vers crash lands in a Blockbuster video store on Earth (C-53 to the Kree), chasing enemy Skrull and reporting back to her mentor/trainer Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Then she runs into Nick Fury – Samuel L. Jackson looking great, with nary an eye patch in sight – and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). They work for S.H.I.E.L.D., but this is before the Avengers Initiative. It is inevitable that Danvers recalls her human side, uncovers her full arsenal of powers, and becomes Captain Marvel.
This is something of a foundation story for Fury, too, as noted in “The Origin of Nick Fury,” one of the bonus features on the Marvel/Disney presentation. Events in “Captain Marvel” are what inspire him to form the Avengers Initiative. “He’s like the air traffic controller of hell,” Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) says. Even so, who knew Fury was a cat person? Goose, an orange tabby and possible reference to “Top Gun,” steals a few scenes from his human and alien leads.
“Being able to introduce the characters [in the MCU], Nick Fury becomes what we know as a master manipulator. That’s his superpower.” — Samuel L. Jackson
The 1080p transfer (2.39:1 aspect ratio) looks very good, but the 2180p with HDR UHD is near reference quality. It was shot on Arri and RED cameras at 6.5 and 8K resolution, but finished in a 2K intermediate, normal for high-effects films. Can superhero movies have “normal” color? Well, human complexions look authentic, not over-saturated. So does the cat and surrounding landscapes. Scenery looks natural whether in industrial, strip mall and government locations, or on lush green environments found in Louisiana and California. Colors are rich and well-toned, but not overblown. Fiery explosions set against the inky darkness of space have great contrast.
Detail is just fine, although not outstanding. Pixels are lost in the 2K transfer, but there’s nothing to complain about. Cinematography by Ben Davis (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Doctor Strange,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) is superb. He makes these fantasy landscapes look very believable. The man is an artist.
Both the Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel soundtracks, available on 4K and Blu-ray, deliver clear, distinct dialogue, and a great mix of effects, balanced with the score by Pinar Toprak (“Fortnite,” “Krypton”). Bass is dynamically rich and effects are excellent, moving throughout the room (and ceiling via Atmos). The overhead effects are especially nice in space and sky battles.
Pop songs enhance the ‘90s era nostalgia with “Whatta Man,” Salt-N-Pepa; “Crush With Eyeliner” and “Man on the Moon,” R.E.M.; “Waterfalls,” TLC; “Come as You Are,” Nirvana; “Celebrity Skin,” Hole, and “Just a Girl,” No Doubt.
It’s a decent grouping beginning with an “Intro” by writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who also collaborated on “Half Nelson,” “Sugar,” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” Their commentary is only so-so, however. Fleck annoys with set-ups, where he pretends to reveal a filmmaking inspiration/secret, and follows with, “No. I’m not going to tell you.” Not entertaining and not why you’re here, Ryan.
A series of featurettes – “Becoming a Super Hero,” “Big Hero Moment,” “The Origin of Nick Fury,” “The Dream Team,” “The Skrulls and the Kree,” “Hiss-terical Cattitude” – provide cast and filmmaker interviews. Six deleted/extended scenes and a gag reel entertain.
The digital code also offers concept art and still images galleries; “Journey into Visual Effects with Victoria Alonso” and “What Makes a Memory: Inside the Mind ‘Frack.’”
“Captain Marvel” may be Marvel’s answer to DC’s “Wonder Woman.” If so, the character and actor are a good choice. Larson holds her own with a sharp attitude, smarts, and a good heart. Like Carol Danvers, she suffers no fools and keeps her sense of humor, a fine role model for any child – and an excellent female champion.
— Kay Reynolds