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Shazam! (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
Entertaining Enough
In the battle of DC vs Marvel in the Cinematic world, the prevailing theory is that DC is "righting the ship" with back-to-back decent films - AQUAMAN and SHAZAM. And...after viewing both of these films, I will agree that they are moving the ship in the correct direction, but they have a long, long way to go before they can say they have "righted" this ship.

SHAZAM is a fun. light, comedic-ish film that will appeal to kids and tweens and will be considered "not bad" by older teens and adults - and that is an improvement for a DC comic book film.

Asher Angel stars as Billy Batson, a troubled teenager with family/parental issues (is there any other kind in these types of films?) who is given the power of SHAZAM by a mysterious wizard (the always dependable Djimon Hounsou), when he says the magical word SHAZAM he is instantly changed into the SuperHero SHAZAM. The Superhero part of this character is played by Zachary Levi (TV's CHUCK) and that is the first problem for me with this film, I didn't feel that these 2 actors connected much to form the illusion of 1 person. Asher is all "broody and moody" - you know, the way an adult would direct a teenage actor to perform as a troubled teen - while Levi, who is having some fun, looks like he is trying just a bit too hard to showcase his "inner teenager" while wrapped inside a body hugging, muscle enhancing costume.

Billy Batson is sent to a foster home full of a "It's A Small World" group of troubled youth that have - despite their differences - formed into a family. Want to bet that Billy figures out that "family" does not mean his mother and father who abandoned him but rather those around you that love and care for you?

All of the kids in this "family" are well played, as are the "father and mother" figures. Standouts are Faithe Herman as smart-as-a-whip/cute-as-a-button Darla and, especially, Jack Dylan Grazer (hypochondriac Eddie in IT: CHAPTER 1) as the lad who becomes Billy's best friend. He is just as fun and charismatic as he was in IT. To be honest, I think I wanted more of a movie about this group of people than the typical "Super Hero/Super Villain" film.

However, I can forgive this film for focusing on the Hero/Villain dynamic for Mark Strong (SHERLOCK) is wonderfully villainous as the bad guy with daddy issues of his own and "that guy" actor John Glover is in it all too briefly as his dad.

Director David F. Sandberg (ANNABELLE: CREATION) does a nice job of keeping the action going at a fast enough pace to keep things entertaining - albeit in a way that was rather pedestrian and "nothing new". But he aims this film squarely at the older kid/younger tween audience and they will enjoy this very much, whilst the rest of us will not be bored as we accompany them.

Letter Grade: B

7 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
  
Spiral (2007)
Spiral (2007)
2007 | Drama, Mystery
7
7.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Mason isn't exactly your everyday joe. He's an artist. A sketcher and a painter, but he's also incredibly quiet and tends to keep to himself. He has an office job where he tries to sell car insurance, but he doesn't exactly fit in with others. His only friend(if that's what you want to call him) is Berkeley, the boss. Berkeley comes off like he cares about Mason, but his compassion is overshadowed by the fact that he's a prick. Things start looking up for Mason as he meets Amber. After seeing Mason's sketches and getting to know him a little better, she decides she wants him to paint her. Mason's...odd side starts to reveal itself as he won't let Amber see his sketches. "There are rules," he says, "You can't see it until it's done." As Amber gets closer to Mason, what can he be hiding? Why is he such an "enigma," as Amber put it? Why does he keep having disturbing dreams about another woman?

Where do I start? I actually really liked this. I was expecting to as Adam Green and Joel David Moore were both involved with Hatchet, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. While Hatchet is half comedy and half gorefest, Spiral is more of a dramatic thriller that builds towards the ending. Spiral, while being low budget, is shot in superb fashion. The way its shot is actually its charm. I love the way the camera gets shaky during the scenes where Mason seems like he's going to lose it or when he finally does. Joel David Moore is also in top form here. His talent truly shines in this role. Everything from his body language to the way he chomps his teeth when he gets nervous, he sucks you in. You wind up feeling sorry for Mason even though you know he's twisted in some way. Witnessing his character unveil how dark really is is just amazing. The other actor I was really impressed with was Zachary Levi. I wound up becoming a fan of his with Chuck, but I've never seen him like this. He's basically a prick with a heart(even though that side of him is really only shown to Mason). While his role is a little small, he's still able to steal a few scenes...especially in the last half of the film. The other element that really adds to the film is the jazz music used. It fits perfectly with Mason's personality. Jazz music accentuates Mason's insanity that nothing else could. I really have nothing bad to say about the film.

This may surprise a few people, but Spiral is actually quite enjoyable. The acting is top notch and it's written incredibly well. For a movie that went straight to DVD, it's quite surprising how good it actually is. Even if you hated Hatchet, you should give Spiral a chance as it's a completely different kind of film.
  
Shazam! (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
Zachary Levi as Billy Batson/Shazam The young cast The family dynamic The humour (0 more)
Mark Strong's weak baddie (0 more)
"i'd like to purchase some of your finest beer please"
Shout "Shazam!" into the sky and you're struck by a bolt of lightning from the heavens; blessed with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. Instantly elevated from whatever you were into your peak self; reborn with a crack of thunder, a flash of light and a cloud of smoke. It's a wonderfully novel and simple idea for a comic book character. Something that allows for a spectacular hero moment right before each conflict or feat; an epic bit of imagery to light up the night sky and electrify the frame. This transformation also perfectly captures the spirit of both this film and it's hero; a belief in the idea that even the most forgotten, marginalized and seemingly powerless person can change the world.

Shazam! distinguishes itself as DC's first true crack at a comedy; also it's lightest and most modest effort yet. There's a really nice commitment to the lofty, somewhat ridiculously mythological source material here. There's little liberty taken with Shazam's campy world of wizards, demons and magic; the attitude towards these elements can best be described as self-aware without being self-conscious. The jokes almost all land and there's charm oozing out of every frame. Loads of heart, tons of humor and a true fidelity to childhood joy make this such a uniquely enjoyable flick; and an impressively confident approach to a hero that soars due to it's big personality and earnest attitude.

Our hero's journey here boils down to a kid learning to care about a world that has never bothered to care about him. Abandoned as a child and shuttled through the foster system; the explanation and depiction of Billy Batson's unenviable situation is irreverent and laced with sarcasm, true to how teens often confront traumas that imply vulnerability. The film allows these kids to be kids; meaning they're impulsive and ill-equipped for the situation they're in; and often crude and frustratingly ignorant to a seemingly obvious truth. The premise lends itself to a close look at responsibility and purpose; basically a feature length look at a lost kid reclaiming his identity and finding a family. The point at which Billy truly becomes a hero with something to fight for is powerful; a simple but big-hearted affirmation of the importance of connection and love, especially to a kid who's never allowed himself to know either.

Superhero stories can impart lessons in a variety of ways. Both on the page and on the screen; there's a wide array of films that all excel in their own specific way; shaping themselves in the image of their hero, and what he/she means to readers around the world. Shazam! distinguishes itself spectacularly as a film about what constitutes a family, and how that family reflects who we are. There's a powerful yearning in Billy for a connection; someone or something to fight for. A desperate desire for love and support; to feel like a part of something in some way. There's a meaningful, deeply human core to that concept; something universal and immediately affecting. Shazam! understands this from the start; setting aside the punchsplosians and skybeams for a moment, to remind us that sometimes a kid looking for his mom can be as compelling than the threat of planetary destruction. So bring on Joker, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman 1984 and whatever else DC has in it's chaotic, ever-changing slate of planned superhero flicks; they're on a roll right now.
  
Shazam! (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
Another DC Win
When a foster kid runs into an ancient wizard, he suddenly finds that he can turn himself into a superhero by uttering a simple word: Shazam! DC has run into a fair share of buzz saws when it comes to making quality movies, but chalk one up on the positive side with this one.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 8

Characters: 7
I loved all the characters for the most part. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a cool kid with attitude merely trying to find his place in the world. You don’t feel sorry for him; even though he is definitely mistreated, he’s also a bit of a butthead as most kids that age are. He’s met in his new foster home by a fun group of kids that will give you a number of reasons to laugh. His roommate Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) had me cracking up throughout. He wasn’t just there for comic relief though as I appreciated the more sensitive moments. Big shout-out to Zachary Levi as well playing the role of the superhero Shazam. It’s fun watching Shazam learn his powers just like a kid would because, well, he’s a kid.

Yes, these characters are great. You know who wasn’t great? Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Felt way too over-the-top for me. I didn’t really understand his motivation either or, rather, I understood but just didn’t think it was enough for him to go as bonkers as he did. He honestly almost ruined the movie for me singlehandedly but I got ahold of myself and remembered I was having a good time.

Cinematography/Visuals: 8
While I was mostly impressed with the quality of the visuals, I felt like they took a shortcut in a handful of spots, particularly with the opposition. The villain and his henchmen didn’t quite look as up to par as Shazam. The man of the hour, however, was on point. Shift changes were smooth and fluid. I enjoyed watching him steadily come into his own as a superhero as the camera captured each new ability one-by-one.

Conflict: 8
The action was steady but uneven. You’re watching Shazam slowly develop his powers and it’s great at times, but it’s not without a bit of lag. Things definitely heat up more towards the back half of the movie than in the beginning. When the action does go down, the battles that unfold are solid and entertaining.

Entertainment Value: 8
While the action isn’t always at its strongest, the movie makes up for it with some solid comedic moments. We go to movies to have a good time and, I gotta say, I had a blast watching Shazam! With a heartfelt story that gives you a reason to root for the protagonist and delightful side characters, entertaining is beyond a fair word for this movie.

Memorability: 10

Pace: 10

Plot: 5
A few issues here I can’t overlook. My biggest problem were the coincidental occurrences that happened for the sake of advancing the story. For this movie to be mostly great, I think it cheated its way through some parts, parts which definitely could have been handled better. I am never a fan of that as it’s just lazy. Definitely could have been better.

Resolution: 10
Couldn’t have asked for a better ending. If the entirety of the movie had been more like this, we might have a classic on our hands. It ties up everything in a great bow and gives you yet another reason to love the movie.

Overall: 84
Because of my past experience with DC, I went in with low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised and happy with how much I enjoyed this movie. If DC can continue to make quality movies like Shazam!, they may be due for a comeback!
  
Shazam! (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
Not as bad as I was expecting
I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for Shazam!, I felt pretty underwhelmed. It didn’t seem like the kind of film I’d enjoy. I often get tired of cringey, over the top humour, which is basically what the trailer was packed full of. Having said all of this, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the film after agreeing to go to a Limitless screening. I actually don’t think the trailer did it justice, if I’m perfectly honest.

The plot of Shazam! is completely bonkers, but let’s face it, what did you expect from a superhero film? Most origin stories are implausible, but that’s the beauty of the genre for me. The film follows 14-year-old Billy Batson, after he is gifted superpowers by a wizard and is able to transform into the adult ‘Shazam’ simply by shouting his name. At first, it is a little weird seeing him transform from a kid into an adult and back again, but you do get used to it. I loved the performances by Zachary Levi and Asher Angel throughout, and they did a great job of mirroring each other.

The film’s antagonist Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) gets his powers from the seven deadly sins; a group of terrifying, demonic spirits who lead him down a dark path. He’s full of anger, and wants to lash out at the world and the family who berated him his entire life. As far as antagonists go, he’s fairly standard, but fun to watch. He’s nothing revolutionary, but I enjoyed watching him fight Shazam at least. When Sivana is on screen, the film does take a much darker turn, so I would add a viewer discretion for any young children out there. I was even caught out by a pretty effective jump scare at one point.

Annoyingly the pacing is a little off in the third act, and the final fight scene between Sivana and Shazam could’ve easily been trimmed down by 15 minutes or so. I found myself getting a little restless here, which was disappointing given how much fun I had with the rest of the film. Having this sluggish scene follow so many hilarious, genuinely engaging moments was a shame. Don’t let that put you off though, the rest of the film works well. The relationship between Billy and his foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) is hilarious, and got the most laughs from me. Even when he’s in his adult form, Billy still acts like Billy, so there’s lots of teenage boy bickering throughout as you may expect.

I was also surprised at the emotional themes that run through the film. On the surface, it’s a goofy, laugh out loud superhero film, but it also deals with difficult scenarios. As a foster child, Billy has desperately been searching for his birth mother, and Dr. Sivana has loathed his own family ever since he was a child. Both are struggling with the concept of family, and there are frequent references to this throughout. Billy’s most recent foster family are delightful to watch, and I was impressed by the child actors in the film. They’re definitely the most engaging characters, who would go out of their way to help Billy and their other foster siblings.

Shazam! is not a brilliant film, but it’s also way better than I was expecting. The tone is all over the place, some of the jokes are stupid, and it’s super goofy. But it’s a perfect film to watch for a bit of escapism, if you don’t want to think too hard about what you’re watching. I was surprised at just how much fun I had.

https://lucygoestohollywood.com/2019/03/29/not-as-bad-as-i-was-expecting-my-thoughts-on-shazam/
  
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Emma @ The Movies (1056 KP) rated Shazam! (2019) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Sep 25, 2019)  
Shazam! (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
This was a massive turn out for an Unlimited Screening, the last time it was this busy was when we had the secret screening for The Incredibles 2. I guess everyone loves a bit of action, I know I do, so thank you very much, Cineworld.

Captain Sparkle Fingers amused and entertained, and it produced some of those goosebump moments you get from the anticipation. This is going to be a winner of the East period with the schools being out, I think that means I'll be avoiding the cinema for a bit.

I was concerned early on as it was a rather slow start and the tone was nothing like what we'd been seeing in the promotional material, but once that stumbling block was out of the way we started down a very fun path.

Billy Batson's search for his birth mother lands him with a new foster situation after his antics are no longer tolerated by his previous home. There he meets his new family who have a spectacular amount of alliterative name. Freddy Freeman, Darla Dudley, Victor Vasquez, Pedro Peña, (I really do think that alliteration should be mandatory in super movies) and the rather less rhythmic Rosa Vasquez, Mary Bromfield and Eugene Choi.

Billy is set on not being part of the family until two bullies set upon Freddy outside school, his instincts kick in and he wades in to protect him. This act catches the attention of The Wizard, Shazam, and knowing that the world needs a saviour he bestows his power on Billy.

The fact that Billy probably would have failed to be worthy of the power, or declined it, does sit a little heavy when you see it in the film. But we know that it eventually comes good so I let it slide.

Shazam is a massive departure for DC, it's very Marvel meets Teen Titans GO! To The Movies. It feels a little like the film is fighting with the brand's roots though, there's obviously a darkness around our villain but when you compare it to the goofy nature of the hero side it begins to feel like two different films. Had either of those films been made on their own I don't think we'd have been in for something quite so entertaining.

By far the most entertaining bits of Shazam are when we see Billy and Freddy exploring what superpowers Captain Sparkle Fingers has. Keep an eye out for the teleportation test, that was my favourite. I could quite happily have watched an entire film of these scenes.

I don't think there are many people out there that could have played this role, Zachary Levi is certainly the right fit. The childlike glee is so good that I can't help but think he was channelling Chuck Bartowski. I think there's something even more appealing about characters when the character gets to be a little wacky and act outside the expected. Jack Black in Jumanji, Tom Hanks in Big, Paul Rudd briefly in Ant-Man And The Wasp, they all produced some really amusing moments.

Mark Strong is brilliant, in general as well as in this film. I love him being menacing. He does a superb job with what he's given but I would have loved him to have had a few humorous moments in the whole lolfest. Being the serious thing in a film with so much humour wasn't a great situation to be in.

The family aspect in the movie is a strong theme throughout and our band of actors all work well as a team. I'm sad to say that individually I'm not a real fan of any of the characters apart from perhaps Eugene and his video games, but when they're together it's a great dynamic.

Shazam manages to be both brilliant and terrible all at the same time. Despite its identity crisis it is still a great film, I came out feeling happy and entertained, and that's all you really ask for in a movie.

What you should do

If you love superhero movies then definitely fit it into your schedule, you'll definitely be entertained.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

I've said Shazam a lot over the last week and I've been hoping for some superpowers but nothing is happening... yet... SHAZAM!