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FILM REVIEW: Captain Marvel

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Brie Larson, an excellent dramatic actress, injects humanity, doubt and imperfection into her Vers. It’s just enough to make what could have been a cliché character somewhat intriguing. Not much more. Jackson as Fury buddy’s up to the lead and adds comic relief. Jude Law is miscast and too British and reserved for his mentor role. Mendelsohn fares slightly better as the green monster Talos. Other supporting actors don’t get enough screen time to show their real talent: Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto and Djimon Hounsou.

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By Dwight Brown, NNPA News Wire Film Critic

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

It’s hard to launch an action hero franchise based on a comic book character when you can’t deliver dazzling special effects, innovative super powers, imaginative action scenes, uncanny makeup, vibrant costumes or a consistently affecting storyline. Those essential elements are missing in this feeble origin tale about a superhero who deserves better.

Far off in another galaxy opening scenes depict Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), commander of the Kree civilization’s militia called Starforce. He’s training a soldier named Vers (Brie Larson, Oscar-winner for Room) in martial arts combat. The characters/actors don’t seem particularly convincing. The Kree are at war with the Skrulls, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline); they’re green shape-shifters with elf ears who can turn themselves into anyone they see. It’s hard to spot the Skrulls; they’re difficult to track and can sneak up on you quicker than a heart attack.

The battle between the Kree and the Skrulls shifts to the 1990s on earth, aka Planet C-53. Vers’ trip to the planet triggers memories. Was she there before?  Did she have a pivotal role in a crucial event? Why do people call her Carol? Her voyage of self-discovery may be more fascinating than her mission.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL..Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

First views of the footage are disappointing. The costumes (Sanja Milkovic Hays) are dull and lack eye-catching colors and designs (Oscar-winner Ruth Carter’s clothes in Black Panther made a statement as important as any aspect of that film). The makeup (Erica Akin) is uninspired; especially on the Skrulls who look like they’re wearing green Halloween masks from Toys R Us. Set decoration (Lauri Gaffin), art direction (Elena Albanese), production design (Andy Nicholson) and cinematography (Ben Davis) all look rehashed from other nondescript action hero/sci-fi movies. Add in the dullest of special effects (once you’ve seen Larson shoot power waves out her fists, it loses its shimmer) and visually everything is humdrum.

With nothing to look at, attention gets focused on the story, direction, pacing and acting:  One civilization fighting another civilization is not exactly an earth-shattering premise. When the oh-too-conventional script by writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) and co-writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet concentrates on fighting green plastic looking beings, it shoots blanks. A subplot that centers on Vers’ personal hurdles and discovering her previous life hits its target.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Adding in funny moments about the ineptitude of ‘90s technology, compared with today’s high tech causes several smirks (remember floppy discs and pay phone booths?). Plus, the characters on earth, like the smart-mouthed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who works with an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D, fellow pilot friend Maria (Lashana Lynch) and the enigmatic Supreme Intelligence being (Annette Bening) provide needed diversions.

Hopefully, if Boden and Fleck go on to direct more Marvel films, they’ll keep these standards in mind: Rivalries between warring factions have to be vicious, not polite. Fight scenes should be thrilling. Battles in space need to be spectacular. Airplane chases should be riveting. Fistfights have to be imaginatively staged and choreographed. Chase scenes where heroes run after enemies must be an adrenaline rush. If you can’t hit those marks, why bother?

Editors Debbie Berman and Elliot Graham do the best they can with the footage they were given.  What’s on view has a rhythm. It’s not like you’re squirming in your seat for 2h and 4m. Boredom is not the overwhelming takeaway. Neither is excitement.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)..Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2019

Brie Larson, an excellent dramatic actress, injects humanity, doubt and imperfection into her Vers. It’s just enough to make what could have been a cliché character somewhat intriguing. Not much more. Jackson as Fury buddy’s up to the lead and adds comic relief. Jude Law is miscast and too British and reserved for his mentor role. Mendelsohn fares slightly better as the green monster Talos. Other supporting actors don’t get enough screen time to show their real talent: Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto and Djimon Hounsou.

The perfectly written, directed, acted and produced Wonder Woman should have been nominated for an Oscar. It paved the way for Captain Marvel to succeed as an art form, at the box office and with a female protagonist in a predominantly male genre. WW casts a shadow so big that any similar film that follows will have to bring its A game to equal it and an A+ game to beat it. Captain Marvel rates a C.

In the least, thanks to this prequel, audiences will know how Captain Marvel got her ultra-powerful mojo and how the S.H.I.E.L.D. got its start. Many will wish that the film aimed higher than that.

Visit NNPA News Wire Film Critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and BlackPressUSA.com.

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OP-ED – Reimagining America: Biden is Not the Only Way Democrats Can Win

NNPA NEWSWIRE: We need a leader who understands the struggles of everyday Americans and has the vision and stamina to lead for the next eight years. Vice President Kamala Harris embodies these qualities.
The post OP-ED – Reimagining America: Biden is Not the Only Way Democrats Can Win first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Rep. Ron Reynolds

After last week’s highly anticipated debate, I couldn’t shake a deep sense of unease. I watched the debate in its entirety, and I was deeply disturbed. I didn’t want to react out of frustration or emotion, so I took a night to reflect. The next day, my disappointment had not subsided. As a Biden DNC National Delegate, I firmly believe we need to make significant changes.

It’s time to replace President Biden at the convention and nominate Vice President Kamala Harris. This isn’t a cavalier statement; it’s one I stand by. I welcome debate and criticism, but my primary goal is clear: we must defeat Trump and the MAGA movement for the future of all Americans.

Recently, I have been criticized and even threatened with censure for expressing my belief that the Democratic Party might fare better against Trump with a new nominee. This perspective was formed long before recent public opinion polls supported my concerns. To be clear, I will continue to support President Biden if he remains our nominee. Nonetheless, I will persist in making good trouble, fighting, and speaking truth to power.

Democrats claim to support free speech but then criticize each other for speaking their minds. This kind of internal conflict plays right into the hands of Republicans, who benefit from our division. To truly stand united, Democrats must encourage open dialogue and respect differing opinions within our party.

Our nation faces unprecedented challenges that require fresh, dynamic leadership. To meet these challenges head-on, the Democratic Party must embrace innovation and diversity. We need a leader who understands the struggles of everyday Americans and has the vision and stamina to lead for the next eight years. Vice President Kamala Harris embodies these qualities.

The Democratic Party prides itself on being a party of inclusion, representing a broad coalition of people from all walks of life. Yet, our leadership doesn’t always reflect this diversity. It’s time for a change!

We need leaders who reflect the realities of America today and understand our unique challenges—those who can garner a wide base of supporters. Kamala Harris has a proven track record of fighting for justice and equality. She knows how to build coalitions that include people of all races, genders, and backgrounds. She can energize young voters, women, and people of color—voters crucial to our success.

Innovation is not only about who leads but also how we lead. The Democratic Party must adopt new strategies and technologies to effectively engage voters. We need to leverage social media, data analytics, and grassroots organizing to build a movement capable of countering the well-funded forces of the right. We must engage voters on the issues that matter most to them, from healthcare and education to climate change and economic inequality.

Moreover, we need leaders willing to take bold stands on critical issues. We need leaders who will fight for a living wage, affordable healthcare, and comprehensive immigration reform. Leaders who will stand up to special interests and prioritize the common good. We need leaders who will advocate for peace and stability globally, calling for ceasefires in conflict zones and working towards lasting solutions.

The Democratic Party has a proud history of innovation and progress, from FDR’s New Deal to Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It’s time to renew that legacy. We need leaders who reflect our multicultural society, embrace innovation, and fight for a brighter future, not the status quo.

America deserves better than the status quo. We need leaders who can inspire and unite us. This is our moment to infuse new energy and vision into our party and country. Let’s nominate a leader who can lead us to victory with the passion and dedication that our great nation requires. It’s time for a change, and I firmly believe Vice President Kamala Harris is the leader we need.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

 

The post OP-ED – Reimagining America: Biden is Not the Only Way Democrats Can Win first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and it’s a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in the sector. The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children.
The post Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Andrew Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Council for Professional Recognition

As we mark America’s Independence Day, I’m reflecting on the role education played in my family’s journey to this incredible country and the educators who helped make it happen. I was born in Antigua in the Caribbean, where my father’s family had lived for many generations. They coped with extreme poverty and many challenges — my grandmother was blind, for instance. Yet, from a very early age, teachers pushed my father to fulfill his potential. Their encouragement led him to attend university in Barbados and eventually earn his doctorate at the University of Sussex in England. Later, we settled in the United States, where my dad is a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Each step of the way, a mentor encouraged him to keep growing and expanding his mind. Their support not only changed his life but also paved the way for future generations of our family. I was so excited to spend time recently with about 150 students at Florida International University in Miami who completed their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Through articulation agreements with higher education institutions in Florida, these students can receive college credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

Davis (left) met with education leaders and supporters who helped students complete their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

Davis (left) met with education leaders and supporters who helped students complete their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

The CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and it’s a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in the sector. The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children. Our nonprofit, the Council for Professional Recognition, works to ensure that the nationally transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development. CDA educators know how to put the CDA Competency Standards into practice and have an understanding of why those standards help children move with success from one developmental stage to another. Put simply, CDA educators know how to nurture the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development of children.

It was an honor to recognize and celebrate these scholars, who participated in 120 hours of instruction and at least 480 hours of on-the-job training. They also compiled a professional portfolio and created a center-based capstone project. At the graduation ceremony, I told these students that they should feel proud of their achievements and be empowered to become advocates for early childhood education. I emphasized the importance of cultivating resilience in the face of challenges and embracing lifelong learning. That lifelong learning can include earning additional degrees as well as serving as CDA Professional Development Specialists, who use their expertise to assess CDA candidates’ competencies and facilitate reflective conversations with candidates for the credential.

Most importantly, the CDA scholars I met in Miami and other ceremonies this year are now serving as early childhood educators in communities across the U.S. They’re professionals who support safe and healthy learning environments, provide positive guidance, successfully engage, and interact with families and contribute to ensuring an early learning program is well run. I know their work will pay off. Years ago, my dad’s teachers had no way of imagining where their influence would lead. Indeed, when I look up to the sky on the Fourth to watch the fireworks, I’ll keep in mind the educators who help their students reach higher and higher for spectacular results and the bright futures they create.

The post Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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LIVE! : Make it Plain at the White House

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Rev. Mark Thompson interviews Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo LIVE from the White House.
The post LIVE! : Make it Plain at the White House first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Rev. Mark Thompson interviews Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo LIVE from the White House.

The post LIVE! : Make it Plain at the White House first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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