The Marvels review: Brie Larson leads a film of girls, cats, and crossovers | Hollywood - Hindustan Times

The Marvels review: Brie Larson leads a quick, disconcerting film of girls, cats, and crossovers

ByDevansh Sharma
Nov 10, 2023 01:41 PM IST

The Marvels builds on The Multiverse Saga in an ensemble brimming with female energy. But it's too quick to take stock of how it's shifting the stakes.

Two Marvel shows and a movie merge into a whole new film, that almost serves as a sequel to Captain Marvel (2019), starring Brie Larson in the titular role. She joins forces with Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) from Ms Marvel (2022) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) from WandaVision (2021). Kamala naturally christens them The Marvels, even though Monica doesn't approve of her superhero name, Professor Marvel.

Brie Larson unites with Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris in The Marvels
Brie Larson unites with Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris in The Marvels

(Also Read: The Marvels final trailer confirms Thor, Iron Man and Captain America crossover)

Multiverse Madness

The Marvels doesn't go full bonkers on the Multiverse Saga, shuttling across time and space like in recent Marvel instalments. It stays the course and sticks to only four planets, including Earth, and the space in between. When the motive of the villain, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), surfaces, the intergalactic ride and the choice of the planets handpicked for action make narrative sense.

A whole new world of Aladna, which is like a page out of an Asterix comicbook more than Marvel's, is a breath of fresh air. Firstly, like Wakanda, it's set in a natural location, devoid of VFX. The landscape of a Corsica-like island lends the place an exotic but relatable appeal. The fact that the first language there is song-and-dance allows the Disney in Marvel to take over for a musical intervention. It'll be a fascinating spin-off to see how Captain Marvel landed on that planet, with Park Seo-joon as Prince Yan.

Director Nia DaCosta and co-writers Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik don't limit the time-space churning to only an intergalactic scale. As seen at the end of Ms Marvel, Kamala and Carol Danvers also see themselves swapping with each other because they're bound by the same electromagnetic energy. Soon, Monica Rambeau joins in too, and it makes for a fun training montage of the three women rehearsing the switching. It could've resulted in more ingenious action sequences though.

The Marvels fills a hole in the Multiverse Saga in more ways than one, setting the foundation for a couple of superhero ensembles towards the end, which are likely to be seen in full throttle in future instalments. It would've been fun to see Zawe's villain face off against Tom Hiddleston's Loki, since the actor happens to be her real-life husband. But Marvel isn't interested in that kind of real-reel crossover.

Its focus in The Marvels is on women power, as female characters, who have remained on the fringes or merely served as a helping hand to titular male superheroes, pop up for cameos here. However, it's Brie Larson doing the heavylifting mostly. There's no moment exploding with women power as much as the sequence in the final Avengers: Endgame battle did, where women superheroes from all storylines formed an impromptu army of their own.

More frantic than intimate

The Marvels wastes no time in character introspection and redemption. Brie Larson uses her nuance to project her dilemma in the little time she gets before she has to snap out of it and save the world. It's refreshing to see Kamala go from a fan of the Avengers to possibly building her own team, like Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) once did with The Avengers. Monica has some unresolved business with Carol, but the two never get the screentime for a more felt heart-to-heart. All the character corrections seem more like ticking check boxes than actually seeing them through.

But there's ample fun to be had in two sumptuous small but effective tracks. One is Nick Fury's banter with Kamala's conservative parents. Her mom even refers to Fury as “Nicholas” (who does that?) and the father starts praying in Urdu when they see a spaceship going down. Kamala may be saving the world, but she still has to deal with her protective and obsessive brown parents.

The other fun track – and possibly the whackiest in recent memory – is a bunch of cats, the kids of Goose, just engulfing people at a space station because they have only limited evacuation pods. Of course, once they land on Earth, they'd feel sick and vomit out those people as they were. Well, if we're not going intimate or high-stakes, give us more of these endlessly catshit crazy sequences.

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