From a Child Into A Man (Shazam!, 2019)

Shazam_PosterIn the 40s Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created Captain Marvel.  Young Billy Batson is granted powers by a Wizard that allow him to become a supper powers hero to fight evil. The Wizard’s name, Shazam, was also the magic word that would allow Billy to transform. It stood for:

S – wisdom of Solomon

H – strength of Hercules

A – stamina of Atlas (including his invulnerability)

Z – power of Zeus (including his ability to summon thunderbolts)

A – courage of Achilles

M – speed of Mercury (including flight)

These are representative of his powers and he is meant to be a champion to stand in the way of the evil demonic Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth). DC sued Fawcett, the Publishers of Captain Marvel on the grounds that Captain Marvel was far too close to Superman.  Eventually, DC got the rights to the character, but in the 60’s Marvel created their own Captain Marvel.  This resulted in a situation where the Captain Marvel title was off limits to DC. Within the books, they could call the character Captain Marvel, but it could not be the title of their books. DC eventually dumped the Captain Marvel name, referring to him as Shazam.

The film stays close to this, with Billy being chosen by the wizard Shazam to take on his powers.  Billy is a young orphan who had focused on trying to find his mother, constantly running from foster homes. When his latest attempt to locate his mother gets him tossed into yet another foster family. There he meets his super-hero obsessed room mate Freddy Freeman, who tries befriending the standoffish Billy.

After Billy reluctantly fights some bullies in defense of Freddy, he meets the Wizard Shazam. Shazam has been seeking a successor of his power, with everyone before Billy failing to be worthy.  It is interesting that Billy is presented as a decent kid who makes bad and selfish choices…but the moment that seems to trigger his worthiness is that he thinks he is not worthy.

Billy and Freddy begin by testing the powers and having fun with Billy’s grown up persona by getting out of school and stuff.  But when the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana appears (powered by the Seven Deadly Sins themselves) and demands the power Billy holds, the boys learn that there is more to power than zapping cell phones.

Just going to lay it.  I really enjoyed this movie. It is exciting, the jokes land and the premise of recognizing true family is touching.  This is the big push, the foster family is a group home setting overseen by a couple who came out of the system themselves and want to provide a real home.  The whole family is open to Billy, and the big theme is about Billy opening his heart to this family.

I find the film largely to be a real joy and DC has managed another strong film, close on the heals of Aquaman no less.  Since Wonder Woman, they have been turning things around.  Captain Marvel is not afraid to be fun.  Zachary Levi is great at channeling a fourteen year old boy who finds himself in an adult body. Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer play well together (as do Grazer and Levi).  I loved all the kids.  Mark Strong delivers as the bad guy.

I should point out that even though the film has largely been advertised as kid friendly, a few scenes may be far too intense for younger kids in a theater setting. Older kids and teens should enjoy this flick though. I had a great time and am pumped for another visit to Billy and his family.

Party with Zachary Levi! (Blood Fest, 2018)

Blood_Fest_PosterAs a child, one of the patients of his father killed Dax’s mother. Dax grew up obsessed with horror movies. He is excited to go to the ultimate horror gathering, Blood Fest.

It all seems awesome when they first arrive…but then Dax and his friends make a horrifying discovery…

The man behind Blood Fest wants to make a real life horror movie…and he has enlisted gamers, psychos and technicians to create monsters and slashers.  All the attendees have to do is abide by the rules and they just might survive. Might.

Dax is a huge horror nerd, of course.  So they use his smarts and formulate a plan get to an access gate just outside of Clowntown.

Blood Fest does not even try and take it’s premise seriously. This helps to make it easier to ignore the goofier elements (like the scientific creations of monsters) and just pretty much go with the flow of the story.

The cast does pretty well here. Jacob Batalon is primarily the comedic relief, but his character Krill is a likable goof.  Robbie Kay and Seychelle Gabriel mesh well together, while Chris Doubek plays the actor embarrassed by his horror icon status humorously and sympathetically.

There are no real scares in the film, but that is fine, it is more a film made out of a goofball love of the genre and that worked really well for me.

 

The Past, Present and Future of the DC Cinematic Universe Part 7

That’s it!  The end is here!

Bringing everything to a close, we look at what the future may hold for DC’s Cinematic Universe.

All Marvel characters and footage © 2018 Marvel Comics Group

All DC Characters and footage © 2018 Warner Brothers

 

Part 1- https://youtu.be/D2zovFL1QgQ
Part 2- https://youtu.be/oy51WH3O86o
Part 3- https://youtu.be/1rrpUwYehuI
Part 4- https://youtu.be/alRmOuCRP9o
Part 5- https://youtu.be/r9J8CFRnkP0
Part 6- https://youtu.be/0N16wEC6hxE

Elves! But DARK Elves (Thor: The Dark World, 2013)

thor_the_dark_world_posterThor’s post Avengers story stays outside of the world of S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Man and Captain America.  It focuses squarely on Thor, Jane Foster and Asgard.

The story opens with Odin telling the tale of how the universe had once been in darkness, and after a time, the dark elves sought to plunge the universe back into the darkness.  They were stopped by Odin’s father who had their weapon (the Aether) hidden deep below the ground of…somewhere.  Jane Foster is doing the whole “Chasing Anomalies” thing and stumbles on the Aether which she absorbs.  Thor shows up because suddenly the Bifrost Bridge has been restored.  He brings her to Asgard, the Dark Elves show up, things go very badly and Thor is forbidden from heading out of Asgard.  So Thor frees the imprisoned Loki for help in slipping out “unnoticed”.  This is one of the film’s big set pieces.  Eventually Thor tries to destroy the Aether and is unsuccessful, and the dark elf Malekith gets hold of it.

There is a battle on earth which nearly succeeds in destroying everything.  But Thor saves the day (with help from none of the Avengers) and the universe does not blink out of existence.

Thor: the Dark World is not terrible.  It has some real fun moments, mostly provided by Loki.  And the action scenes are very well done.  Taylor is a pretty accomplished television director, including Game of Thrones.  He is able to frame exciting battle sequences.  Hemsworth is likeable as Thor, Hiddleston’s Loki is entertaining as usual.

The film attempts to really show Jane Foster is a scientist.  There is a cute moment where Jane asks if a magical piece of Asgardian equipment is a quantum field generator.  The person working it states it is a “Soul Forge”.  Jane asks if the Soul Forge transfers molecular energy from one place to another.  The person responds, “yes”…and Jane  quietly tells Thor proudly that it is a Quantum Field Generator.

Loki gets most of the best character moments, both in humor and drama.  But the story has holes.  Why do the Elves want to erase the universe?  Why not bring in the Hulk to fight the nearly indestructible Berserkers?  If it is not Odin on the Throne towards the end…just where is Odin. It is pretty average, especially in comparison to Captain America: the Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.  It also does nothing to advance the characters beyond where they already were.  It is primarily to introduce the Aether, which will be part of the third Avengers film.

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