Shazam! Teaches DC The Importance Of Fun And Family!

Somehow here in the year 2019 DC has released a “Shazam!” movie. With this film, DC and Warner Bros are really testing if audiences are willing to see minor heroes make their way to the silver screen. Now to be fair, Shazam was in theaters before. Albeit he was then known as Captain Marvel (no, not that Captain Marvel), and that was nearly 80 years ago, so your grandparents may remember him if you alert them to the name change. Despite all that, Captain Marvel “Shazam!” is the best movie beginning to end so far of the new DCEU.

“Shazam!” like most superhero movies is about an orphan, but what makes this movie different is that he is still fourteen. You see an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou in his second Captain Marvel movie of the year) needs a champion to protect the world from the Seven Deadly Sins, but when things go south, he needs to settle on a troubled foster kid name Billy Batson (Asher Angel). When Billy says the wizard’s name, Shazam, he is transformed in to the perfect man. Who in this case is Zachary Levi.

If this makes you think the movie is a little like Big, but with superheroes, you would be right. Though, that would be unfair to “Shazam!” because it makes the most of its premise. Because while the trailers show that this film is funny, they don’t show all the heart, and its focus on the importance of family. Whatever that looks like. In this case a group home that Billy is placed in, and the movie is at its best when Billy/Shazam is with his foster brother Freddy Freeman played by Jack Dylan Grazer. The three leads have great chemistry. The rest of the family is very good too, but they are there mostly filler.

The villains on the other hand are not as good. Mark Strong’s Doctor Sivana is not given anybody to really play off for his scenes, so he falls a little flat, though I think his story pays off really well at the end. Also, the Sins are CGI characters that push the budget for this movie a little too much, so they stand out in a bad way, and they make the movie too creepy for younger children. Otherwise, this probably could have been a PG movie, but these are minor flaws in a great movie.

Wonder Woman would have been perfect if it had found a way to have a third act without a big grey thing to fight, and “Shazam!”‘s third act pays off the movie’s themes in a creative way, so while Wonder Woman is a better movie in parts, “Shazam!” is better as a whole. What I am saying is, “Shazam!” is probably the best movie in the DCEU and you should see it. Maybe take your grandparents, it might bring back some memories.

The Kids Are Not All Right In Titans (But That Is Alright With Me)!

Titans probably had one of the worst advertising campaigns around, and I had no real interest in it, but then something strange started happening. People on the internet started saying that it was not that bad, and its RottenTomatoes.com score pulled out of a nose dive and pulled itself up to an 84%. Which for TV these days isn’t too far out of the norm because there is soooo much good TV, but considering the reviews started off negative, it is quite the feet, so when DC Universe had a sale on subscriptions I decided to give it a try. Titans was well worth the price of admission.

In Titans, Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) has given up being Robin. The violence is taking its toll on him, so instead he decides to put his detective training to use and join the Detroit Police Department. Just when he thinks he has given up the cape and the leggings for good, he gets mixed up with a young girl who has strange and dangerous powers named Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft/Raven). She is on the run from her father who wants to use her for her powers. As they run and try to figure out what is going on they will also meet up with Kory (Anna Diop/Starfire) and Gar Logan (Ryan Potter/Beast Boy). Not to mention a few other superheroes.

What is great about Titans is that it takes its time. There aren’t like two intro episodes then they move to Jump City and are now chillin’ in Titan Tower. After eleven episodes they are still nowhere near the superhero team comics lovers know they will be. Dick is trying understand what his life is supposed to be ‘post Robin’, Kory is trying to recover her past, Gar is just now exploring the outside world, and poor Rachel just wants to get a handle on the actual darkness inside her, so the whole first season is just these people trying to deal with their issues while also trying to deal with each other. Which are problems that you just can’t superpunch away.

What I also love about this first season of Titans is that it has taken on a horror vibe, and given Rachel’s powerset, it is a smart choice. There are so many weird and creepy moments in this show. It is not something a lot of other superhero shows, or movies for that matter, have tried, but Titans really goes for it. I will say that it starts off poorly. It doesn’t really get good until about episode three or so, but it is great once it gets going. I also don’t like that they ended the show on a cliffhanger. I like it better when shows have a complete arc for a season, and I guess that season one did, but once they got picked up for a second season they moved episode twelve to be episode one of season two.

Slow starts and cliffhangers are forgivable sins. Titans is not that first show to suffer from them and probably will not be the last. Thankfully everything else about the show works. From the creepy atmosphere to the talented young cast. If you are in the US and can spare eight bucks for a month of DC Universe to watch this show, you should. Outside the US it is even easier because it is on Netflix, so just queue it up. Then wonder with me what will happen when Titans returns this October.

Aquaman’s Success Shouldn’t Have Been A Surprise!

If you follow movie industry sites, one of the biggest stories is how well Warner Bros./DC’s Aquaman is doing. How the film is going to bank $1 Billion even though the lead character is often a joke, but you know what, this shouldn’t be that surprising. While indeed Aquaman has been the butt of a few jokes, you never need to explain the joke to anyone because Aquaman is a household name.

Aquaman came out in 1941, and he has been one of the most well-known heroes since. My Grandfather understands who Aquaman is and what he can do. He is the strong guy from Atlantis who can control/talk to fish. With every Marvel hero that hits the scene I have to prepare myself for all the questions, “Where did they come from? What are their powers? What other heroes do they hang out with? Why is there villain bad?” Now Marvel has been on such an amazing run that none of those questions stop most people from going to the movie, but not one person asked me about Aquaman. They just asked if I was going to see the movie opening night or wait a couple of weekends.

The other overriding theme you will hear is that all the DCEU films were such failures that Aquaman’s success is some sort of anomaly, but guess what? Except for China, Aquaman is doing almost the same amount of business worldwide as the rest of the DCEU movies. The average DCEU film, not counting Aquaman, did $750 Million worldwide, and that is with Justice League pulling the average down. Plus, Suicide Squad couldn’t be screened in China because it featured villains as the main characters, so it broke the moral media code of China Film Co. (the Chinese media importer), and it made $750 Million anyway. In other words, except for a movie that was visibly and aggressively orange, people have been turning out for the DCEU movies, so it should be no surprise that when one comes out un-tinted and fun looking with a hunky man as the lead, people showed up again. Add to that, China has a thing for mermaid movies (look it up), Aquaman looks more like the norm, than an outlier.

Considering the disappointment of Justice League, it was easy to get carried away with all the DCEU is doomed talk, but it turns out maybe people just don’t like orange unfinished movies. If proper care is taken, ‘A’ list superheroes will perform like ‘A’ list superheroes and make tons of cash. Which is to say, when Shazam only makes $600 Million the DCEU world is not ending, because ‘B’ list superheroes will perform like ‘B’ list superheroes and make slightly less cash. Just ask Ant-Man.

Shmee’s Top Five Movies Of 2018!

I had ton of fun at the movies this year, and since the box-office set records, I am guessing a lot of you did too. This year instead of picking the ‘best’ movies like I am some kind of Oscar voter, I am just picking my most memorable ones. The ones that stuck with me. Here they are in reverse order!

5: A Simple Favor!

You don’t get a good thrilledy every day, or even once a year, so when Paul Feig creates one with two fantastic leads, I think it is worth watching. While I am not sure this movie will end up on a lot of people’s lists, I found it fascinating, and it shows how talented people can make something that shouldn’t work, work. Also, it makes me want a martini.

4: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies!

I laughed so much at Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. The jokes came fast and furious, and it showed that you don’t just have to be crass to make a superhero comedy. You can also use a lot of poop jokes, or just make fun of the state of the DCEU. On top of all that the songs were catchy. I don’t know what it says that my favorite DC movie this year was an animated farce, but here we are.

3: Black Panther!

This movie was soooooo good, and Marvel finally had a villain that was smart and had some moral high ground. Then in true Marvel fashion they killed him…. Hey Marvel, quit killing all your bad guys! Especially the good ones! I guess they are getting a bunch of new rogues from the Fox merger, but Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) was fantastic. He was the first MCU villain who I would watch a solo movie about.

2: Won’t You Be My Neighbor!

It turns out the loving and wonderful person that Fred Rogers was on screen wasn’t an act. He really was that person, and his love made the world a better place. He let us know that we are all special and loved, and his show was a safe space for us all. There has been a Mr. Rogers shaped hole in the world since he left us, and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ reminded us of that.

1: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I never thought I would pick a Spider-Man movie to be my favorite film, but here we are on the last day of 2018, and Spider-Verse is the movie I can’t get out of my head. Everything about this movie was so well done. When I think about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse it is literally just a list of superlatives. Better yet, it is still in the theaters, so there is time for you to get out to your local multiplex and see it.

That was my very flawed list, I would love to hear yours, or just have you tell me why I am wrong. Until next year!

Shmee Swims With Aquaman!

Thanks to Amazon and Atom Tickets I was able to see Aquaman a week early, so I am able to get a review out before the movie opens for once.  Aquaman is the sixth movie from the DC Extended Universe, and its second best.  Which to be fair isn’t hard, but it is still a good movie.  It is strange to think in this era of superhero films that an ‘A’ list hero created in 1941 is just now getting his own movie, but thanks to the 70’s animated cartoon Super Friends we think of Aquaman like this:

And not like this:

Anyway, the new movie from James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) and Warner Brothers seeks to change all that, and for the most part they do.

Aquaman takes place right after Justice League, but in no way do you need to know what happened in that film, just that it happened, and Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa) reflects on how he came to be.  He has also started being a hero full time.  That is until Princess Exposition  Mera (Amber Heard) shows up and tells Arthur that he needs to come to Atlantis and claim the throne from his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) before Orm can declare war on the surface world.

Aquaman has the pretty standard origin story flow.  He is a misfit kid dealing with some trauma (though not as bad as most superheroes), and he is a reluctant hero until he gains the confidence to fight.  Now that may not have sold you on this film, but what should, is that this thing is non-stop action and spectacle.  It is always showing you something cool or crazy.  I mean there are sharks with lasers fighting giant crabs, Black Manta has his big dumb helmet, and if that is not enough Julie Andrews plays a kraken.  None of this will win an Oscar, but it is all peek ocular cotton candy.

Sadly, it has a few things that bring it down.  This movie is over two hours long and at that it still has barely enough time to tell its story, so a lot of things feel rushed or at least very convenient.  I didn’t like Amber Heard at first.  She was stilted and wooden, but that is because she was given nothing but exposition to say for the first hour.  Once she was done with that she got much better and was clearly having as much fun as Jason.  Willem Dafoe also spouts exposition, but he is much better at it.  It is a gift it seems.

Aquaman revels in being a popcorn movie.  One covered in cheese with some candy on the side, and you can tell the actors were all having a lot of fun with it.  I mean there are dinosaurs in this movie and nobody says anything about it.  They just exist.  Why?  Because they are cool, and that is this movie’s MO.  If you are going in expecting more than that, you may be disappointed, but I had a great time.  It is strange to think that Aquaman is this year’s fourth best superhero movie, but it is still pretty good, and worth your time and money.