Reel Reviews: Ladies to power!

By on March 13, 2019

‘Captain Marvel’

Beware of the Flerken! And spoilers. If you were one of the millions flocking to the theaters to help make “Captain Marvel” the sixth biggest worldwide box office opening in history (at $455 million) then read on freely. I won’t give away the best spoiler, but if you want to see the latest release from the Marvel Cinematic Universe free from prior knowledge skip ahead to “Alita: Battle Angel.”

Out of cinematic story-order, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is a USAF pilot working on a secret mission when she accidentally absorbs an alien power source (via the tesseract). Rendering her temporarily unconscious, she is transported to the home-world of the Kree where she becomes an adopted warrior hero in the tech-heavy alien race’s battle to defend themselves against the Skrull. Turns out the Skrull — extraterrestrial shapeshifters — are refugees and need the help of Danvers, who is fully discovering her abilities as Captain Marvel, and SHIELD agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) to find a new home.

“Captain Marvel” is Marvel brilliance at its best. This movie makes viewers cheer and laugh, and we all leave the theater inspired (to some degree, because haters gotta hate, too). If you liked the high-flying space action and seminal soundtrack of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you will like “Captain Marvel.” If you love the humor of “Thor: Ragnarock” and long to see Samuel L. Jackson in a role harkening back to his Major Marquis Warren, Neville Flynn, or Jules Winnfield, then you will also love “Captain Marvel.”

The movie takes a few liberties to established storylines in the comic book universe, but it gives the newly exposed a great intro to parts of the Marvel Universe not covered by previous movies. Out of all 21 MCU films, I consider this easily in the top third.

The Regal Great Escape movie theater in Harrisburg had a visit from Captain Marvel, courtesy the U.S. Air Force, during opening weekend of “Captain Marvel.” She is shown with starstruck reviewer Michael Upton.

 ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

I went to see “Alita: Battle Angel” simply because there was nothing really to see at theaters prior to the release of “Captain Marvel” and I thought the female-centric flick would pair nicely with the Carol Danvers introduction. What I got was a more than pleasant surprise — and a little shock.

“Alita: Battle Angel” is based on the Japanese manga series Gunnm (Yukito Kishiro), co-written by James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Avatar”), directed by Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City,” “Spy Kids”), has a star-studded cast, and is flopping at the box office-pulling in a meager $78 million total (with a $170 million budget) after four weekends. Maybe folks were waiting to spend their money on Marvel, but “Alita: Battle Angel” is a huge disappointment for Fox.

I liked it. I was surprised by the intriguing tale of a cyborg (Rosa Salazar) who comes of age in a post-apocalyptic world reminiscent of “Hunger Games” and “Tron” with a dash of “Terminator” aided by a hunter-killer “doctor” (Christoph Waltz) and his estranged wife (Jennifer Connelly).

I’m nowhere near being ultraconservative when it comes to language in films, but I loudly gasped when our hero dropped a massive, not to be missed F-bomb in the middle of a fight scene. I guess you can’t rate a film R for one utterance, but, wow, I was taken aback. And if you are planning on watching this PG-13 movie with a young child, you should be warned and ready. I certainly wasn’t. And although I enjoyed it, “Alita: Battle Angel” fails because it can’t successfully straddle the line between kid-flick and teen cult hit.

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