LONDON – Marvel’s 33rd instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – The Marvels – releases today, and audiences will find it visually captivating but at times hard to follow.
I was lucky enough to attend the film’s UK premiere on Nov. 8 in Chiswick Cinema in Leicester Square, where I naively anticipated a smaller screening, only to be pleasantly surprised by the bustling crowd.
The premise of this Captain Marvel sequel follows Brie Larson’s titular character, teaming up with Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), whose powers are linked to hers, to rescue the universe.
The chemistry between the main actresses proved exceptional. Directed and co-written by Nia DaCosta, the first Black director in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Marvels successfully entwined Marvel universes, fostering continuity.
Filming faced initial delays due to Marvel’s exploitative labor practice claims and shooting setbacks.
The design put into the premiere proved impressive.
Outside the cinema, a blue carpet was laid out against a Marvel backdrop as celebrities posed for photographers and fans eagerly watched.
On entry, the stairs were lit up with The Marvels posters plastered all around the cinema, further immersing everyone into the Marvel Universe.
The queuing time was extensive – a common expectation for premieres. I waited in the cold for over an hour, well past the initial 6:15 p.m. start time.
But the grandeur of my first IMAX screening compensated for the wait. The cinema, boasting 721 seats and 4K laser projection on the biggest screen, created a cinematic spectacle.
The vivid colors on the IMAX screen are superb and cannot be replicated on a normal screen.
I felt as if I was inside the film, revealing the importance of witnessing films in person, where every facial expression, stylistic choice, and color gradient truly pop.
As I settled into my seat, popcorn and water awaited me, with various free drinks offered within the cinema, contributing to the party-like ambiance within the cinema. DJs near the screen re-mixed pop songs, infusing more energy into the venue as laser lights gleamed, almost blindingly.
Photographers inside offered attendees the chance to capture their Marvel moment against a thematic backdrop, turning fans into celebrities. But post-screening, the cinema was a mess, littered with popcorn and spilled drinks. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the cleaners.
Stunning graphics referencing parts of the film in the credits reinforced the effort behind the film.
When some people started leaving during the credits, I felt the urge to drag them back down. Even I know the tradition of sitting through the end credits for any Marvel movie.
The Marvels’ beginning was painfully slow-paced and jam-packed with too much action. The film also felt targeted towards an audience well-versed in the Marvel universe, leaving some, like myself, occasionally feeling lost.
Characters initially felt one-dimensional, lacking emotional depth. But the authentic relationship between Captain Marvel and Monica, confronting abandonment, provided a poignant contrast.
Likewise, the dynamic between Kamala and her family, particularly her mother and brother, injected humor into the storyline.
The film explored different fictional societies and their cultural customs, such as singing instead of speaking on planet Aladna.
Park Seo-joon, a well-known Korean actor who plays Prince Yan, the charismatic prince of the planet Aladna and Danvers’ husband and ally, delivered an enjoyable dance scene with his on-screen wife. The costumes and vibrant designs for the people of planet Aladna were visually striking.
Despite these strengths, some scenes felt choppy, and props, especially wigs and costumes, occasionally seemed tacky, resembling cheap Halloween attire rather than superhero garb.
The music score by Lara Karpman complemented scenes seamlessly – whether a fight scene or comedic space-kitten scene.
With a runtime of only an hour and 45 minutes, the film felt short for a Marvel movie. Some scenes seemed dragged out in an attempt to meet the typical two-hour Marvel movie length.
Despite this, The Marvels delivers an immersive experience for Marvel enthusiasts.
Blending humor, action and a glimpse into the diverse societies within the Marvel universe, it invites audiences to appreciate the intricate threads that bind the Marvel cinematic tapestry.
Anjola Fashawe is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.