As with many studio-created girl groups, “The Marvels” are carefully styled and wear coordinated outfits during their big numbers. They have a few flashily choreographed moves and can harmonize (more or less) due to their dedication to rehearsal. The group was specifically created for maximum bankability, familiarity, and relatability, and it delivers exactly what you would expect, and not a single thing, idea, or beat more. The members are nice, even when seemingly fierce, and so unrelievedly bland that it feels like an affront to all the women doing so much hard work.
This is the 33rd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which continues to expand even as its cultural interest and resonance diminish. “The Marvels” will dominate the box office, of course, at least during its opening weekend. It’s frustrating what weak tea this movie is because the director, Nia DaCosta (“Little Woods,” “Candyman”), has talent, the cast is appealing, and there’s a lightly gonzo scene that shows you what the other 100 minutes could have been.
Once again, Brie Larson plays Captain Marvel a.k.a. Carol Danvers, a former Air Force pilot who inadvertently picked up her superpowers once upon a time. When she first appears, she is hanging out with her scene-stealing orange tabby, Goose, and then zipping off to another over-plotted, overextended escapade.
This time she’s joined by two super-empowered beings from the small screen: Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau. In the interest of moving this review along, S.A.B.E.R is described as “a space station covertly acting as Earth’s first defense from a rapidly expanding universe.”
Written by DaCosta, Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik, “The Marvels” reunites old friends and foes while introducing new characters and developments. The big fights and minor tension are principally generated by the villainous Dar-Benn, the ruler of the Kree people. As terrified men, women, and children flee and buildings fall, the scene briefly summons up visions of our world, which the movie otherwise strenuously ignores.
As is always the case with Marvel directors, DaCosta’s principal job seems to be to keep the greased gears moving. To underscore this point, Kamala’s fangirl shtick goes on too long; the character is doodling images of her idol when the movie opens and sometime later wears a T-shirt emblazoned with Captain Marvel’s image.
Rated PG-13 for bloodless cartoon violence. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. In theaters.