Shazam! Review

A spoiler free review here for you, folks, so fear not.

Young Billy Batson is an orphan with a persistent habit of running away from foster homes before he ends up in his last chance home with loving and understanding foster parents and five other foster kids. Chief among them is Freddy, a wise-cracking, self-professed superhero expert and, while Billy tries not to get attached, he can’t help himself defending Freddy when the local bullies torment him. Billy runs and ends up being transported to the Rock of Eternity where the wizard Shazam grants him his powers to save the world from the Seven Deadly Sins that have been released by Dr Sivana.

Billy gets back to the real world and confides in Freddy that he has powers; Freddy’s response is to film Shazam testing those powers, uploading the clips to the net and basking in the views. Eventually, though, Sivana comes calling, wanting Shazam’s powers for himself. Cue various fights before the big finale where Shazam gets some help from some others and – no real surprise – defeats the bad guy.

Story-wise it’s not a great deal more than that, but that’s not saying it’s bad by any means. Most of the main characters have enough screen time; Rosa and Victor (the foster parents) seem to genuinely like their rag-tag family of kids; and the leads of Billy, Freddy and the adult Shazam are clearly having a blast – the last two particularly.

And it’s funny, too – not belly achingly hilarious, but enough to make me smile and chuckle plenty of times throughout; the big villain speech scene towards the end was great, for example. It’s clear that with this, Zack Snyder’s grimdark version of the DCU has finally been laid to rest, and not a moment too soon.

A little slow in some places, and a little too long in others, it’s still a fun film so gets three lightning bolts out of five.

Captain Marvel Review

There will be spoilers here, people, so continue past the poster at your own risk.

You know how Marvel origin movies go, don’t you? The hero is a bit of a heel who suffers some sort of trauma forcing him to re-evaluate his position before developing/reclaiming powers which the bad guy (who has some sort of relationship to the hero) co-opts before the final fight where the good guy fights the bad guy who’s basically the bad version of the good guy? Yeah, we’ve all seen Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Dr Strange and even Black Panther.

This isn’t one of those.

There’s a slow, slightly disjointed start to the film that kicks in after fifteen minutes or so once Brie Larson’s “Vers” (pronounced to rhyme with “beers”) lands on Earth, trying to track down the Skrull shapeshifters who are after an experimental core that a Dr Lawson has been working on and which could lead to light speed travel. Vers is a Kree warrior who can fire photon blasts from her hands and is found by a young Agent Fury and an even younger Agent Coulson before she heads off to find the Skrull.

Cue much chasing and fighting and before you know it, Fury and Vers are teaming up to find Dr Lawson only to discover that not only was Lawson killed six years before, but Vers isn’t a Kree after all, but Carol Danvers. As a test pilot, Danvers worked with Lawson (who was actually a rebel Kree herself) and saved the core from falling into the hands of Yon-Rogg and the loyalist Kree; when she destroyed the core, she absorbed its powers.

Yon-Rogg took her to Hala, the Kree homeworld, and with her memories damaged by the blast, convinced her she was Kree and that the Skrulls were terrorists to be hunted and killed. Turns out, the Skrulls just want a homeworld away from the totalitarian Kree.

Fury and Danvers team up with the Skrulls, find the core – which turns out to be the Tesseract from various earlier MCU films – defeat Yon-Rogg and the invading Kree before she heads off into the galaxy to help the Skrulls find a new home. Oh, and along the way, Fury loses an eye.

It’s not a perfect film – the start is a little too slow and the story itself is serviceable without being anything wildly original – but it’s done well; the performances particularly by Brie Larson and Samuel L Jackson are spot on and the quickly formed friendship is believable. The pair enjoy hanging out with each other but there is never a hint of suppressed romance, no will they/won’t they moments – they’re friends who have each others’ backs. Larson’s Danvers is a force to be reckoned with once she realises who she is and which side of the Skrull/Kree war she should be on, and the character obviously enjoys the powers that she has, especially once she unleashes her full potential.

The effects are good, particularly during the climactic scene where Danvers takes on the Kree battleships, although the young Coulson is occasionally a little uncanny valley, and Goose the cat sometimes edges closer to Garfield, but those are minor quibbles. All in all, this was a bloody good film, a solid four logos out of five.

Oh, and there’s a mid-credits scene that sets up Danvers’s entry into Avengers: Endgame nicely.

PS – there’s been so much whining about the film’s “feminist agenda” and how the “her” in “hero” has been emphasised that I couldn’t not address it. I’m a white, middle aged bloke who’s relatively comfortable and can’t begin to imagine being oppressed because of my gender/race/sexuality or whatever else, but if

  • this film offends you
  • or you’re angry about comments Brie Larson made in an interview about wanting to have a more representative field of interviewers when doing press
  • or you’re the sort of guy who trolls Rotten Tomatoes, complaining about a film before it has been released
  • or you’re going to refuse to see this because, god dammit, Catwoman was made first and no-one shouted about that having a female lead
  • or because Carol Danvers doesn’t smile enough in the film
  • or any other stupid excuse that reveals you as, at best, an idiot and, at worst, a sexist arsehole

then I have something for you courtesy of the internet:

You’re welcome.

Venom Movie Review

Both Mrs Earth-Prime and I had read reviews of the Venom movie before going to see it yesterday . . . and we weren’t disappointed.

The film is, simply put, a mess. It doesn’t know whether it wants to be funny, a dark superhero film, or a promo for a video game tie-in.

I have a lot of time for Tom Hardy and will happily watch him in most things, but here he’s just stumbling around waiting for the next CGI set piece to come along. There are a few flashes of what could have been, particularly when he’s having what appears to outsiders to be having a one-sided conversation, but those flashes are rare. The rest of the cast are simply bystanders who are used as cannon fodder or stock characters that don’t really do much.

I won’t rehash the plot because – like most of Marvel’s origin films – it boils down to good guy with power X ending up fighting bad guy with power X and guess who wins? None of the action set pieces are particularly noteworthy and the climactic fight between Venom and the bad guy is just one long round of fast edited CGI goop fighting against another CGI goop.

Oh, and there’s a mid-credits scene with a fairly big-name actor who wears a wig that looks it came from a Happy Meal who, presumably, is being set up as the bad guy for the next film.

Honestly, I think I enjoyed the trailer to Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse more.

Venom gets 1 poorly made boys’ Halloween costume out of 5.

Deadpool 2 Review

I have deliberately been ignoring the internet for the last few days, desperately trying to steer away from anything connected with the new Deadpool film in the hopes of avoiding spoilers. Now that I’ve seen the film, I can cheerfully catch up on the comic and film news that I’ve missed since last week.

Oh, wait, I said there’d be a review in the post title, didn’t I?

Short review: It’s great. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this.

Slightly longer review: You may be a little disappointed that it’s not as groundbreaking and fresh as the first one, but come on, give the people a break.

Even longer review: There is not a dull moment in this film, seriously. The gags and violence are relentless, often hand in hand, and everybody involved does a damn fine job. From Reynolds as Deadpool, Brolin as Cable, through to Julian Dennison as Russell and the excellent Zazie Beetz as Domino, there’s not a duff cast member here. There are jokes, quips and Easter eggs galore, both visual and in the dialogue, and it’s probably worth a second watch at some point just to catch them all. The cameos are pretty much all laugh out loud funny but don’t burst into the story; if you catch them, they’re there, if not, it doesn’t matter.

And, surprisingly, there are several quite touching moments, too. It is, as Deadpool’s voiceover at the start says, a family movie and that means heart strings will be tugged at times you’re not expecting.

One of the trailers contained a scene where Deadpool and Weasel joke about there not being a Deadpool 3 but I hope there is; or, at least, an actual X-Force film.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go and do so – oh, and hang around for the mid-credits scenes where Deadpool rights some cinematic wrongs.

This definitely gets four tiny new legged Lego Deadpools out of five. (Watch the film and you’ll get the reference)