Mike at the Movies

Photo | Submitted Ben Mendelsohn plays the villain Talos in “Captain Marvel.”

Photo | Submitted
Ben Mendelsohn plays the villain Talos in “Captain Marvel.”

Captain Marvel (PG-13)

When I see a film with credits for “Visual Effects” personnel that scroll on for page after page, I get the feeling that humans got lost in the process of making a film. Exhibit one is this mishmash. Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Vers and Captain Marvel is simply overwhelmed by special effects. At one point she emerges from a fireball with eyes glowing in an all-red outfit that is very fetching but totally unexplained—as is much of this movie.

Annette Bening is cast as Supreme Intelligence and Mar-Vell. Yeah, “MarVell.” Subtle, isn’t it? There are gags in the script that aren’t really funny, incredible tricks of technical magic that are totally unexplained, the main character spends most of her time trying to figure out who she really is—it’s like I said, a mishmash. So is the character of Captain Marvel her/himself.

Originally a character created by the late Stan Lee (who has a cameo in this film) as late as 1967, the character has appeared in several guises, including a stint as Mar-Vell and a member of the Avengers. It is made clear in a post-credit break that  Larson and her Captain will appear in the future as a full member of the Avengers cast.

That may serve to give her the identity she seeks and needs since this film leaves her swimming in confusion and mired in fighting for a cause that even the most perceptive audience member is unlikely to identify.

Maybe the next occasion will give her time to find a persona that can go in one direction with the same friends and the same enemy. As it is now, the only friend she appears to have is a cat with strange regurgitation powers. Stay to the very end to see what I mean.

Greta (R)

Isabelle Huppert (Greta) is one of the greatest French film actresses in recent memory. She stars as the French psychopath
Greta whose MO is leaving a classy handbag on subway cars and waiting for naïve, young New York women to return it to her so she can drug them and entrap them.

Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz) responds to the bait and off we go into Thrillerland as Greta applies music (“Traumerei” by Franz Liszt) and drugs to keep Fran under control. As in all such thrillers, someone catches on and catches Greta (even if it is in a most improbable way), and the film moves to its inevitable conclusion.

Fran’s greatest mistake is informing Greta: “My friends all call me ‘chewing gum’ because I stick around.” Not the most likely thing to tell somebody, but this film is full of weird things said. Fran should have kept her mouth shut.

A Madea Family Funeral (PG-13) 

I was so sure that Madea would live after this, Tyler Perry’s alleged last appearance as the character, that I was tempted to bring along two stakes to drive into the film’s heart. Alas, I forgot them and Madea survived the film.

In perhaps the most vulgar, black middle class rip off of Perry’s career, the film manages to kill off George, the husband of Vianne (Jen Harper). The rest of the deaths are in the audience, turned stone cold by line after predictable line, often with wasted double-entendre intents.

Perry’s characters, all miserable parodies of black men, range from the grotesquely obscene Joe to the one-toothed paraplegic Heathrow to the obsequiously prudish academic Brian (played without prosthesis by Perry).

Perry’s general approach to script-writing appears to be to find a joke with little humor, then have several characters repeat it as in: “Did you hear that?” Then somebody,usually Joe, makes it as dirty as possible so everybody can laugh. Sorry, not me.

The last, pathetic scene uses the phrase “I’m so sorry” in its variations so often as to beg for something to replace it but Perry plods on. The only one truly sorry was me for having had to see this kind of trash again.

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