REVIEW: SUPERMAN/SHAZAM: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM

 

 

CAST

George Newborn (Justice League)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Zach Callison (Steven Universe)
James Garner (The Notebook)
Josh Keaton (Justice Legaue Action)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

The film opens with a young couple sitting in their car on a hillside outside of the city as an apparent meteor streaks across the sky and smashes into the couple’s car. It is revealed that that meteorite is actually Black Adam, returning to Earth after a long exile. The film then cuts to young Billy Batson living in a rundown slum, with very little food and rats for pets. He gets out of bed wearing a t-shirt with the Superman crest. He goes to the kitchen to find food, but discovers he only has potato chips, which he ends up feeding to the rats.

On his way to meet with Clark Kent in a nearby diner, he sees some bullies mugging a homeless man. After attempting to defend the man, Billy himself receives a black eye. The homeless man thanks Billy for his intervention, calling him “The Captain”. Billy tells him that he always tries to do the right thing. Billy gives him the only thing of value he has – a subway token.

At the diner, Clark buys the boy three breakfasts, and tells him he wants to write a story to bring his plight, and those in his same situation, to public light. He tells Mr. Kent that he tries to be good no matter what. As the conversation continues, neither notice that Black Adam has appeared, hovering outside the diner. He claps his hands together, blowing a hole in the side of the diner. Clark attempts to protect the boy, but a blow from Black Adam sends him through several walls. He emerges from beneath the rubble and quickly changes into Superman. Adam stalks young Billy through the streets stating his surprise over the Wizard’s choice to become the next Marvel, but Billy does not know what he means. Black Adam picks up a fire engine to smash Billy, but Superman intervenes and blocks the blow. While Billy makes good his escape, Superman gets a blast of electricity from Black Adam. After recovering he realizes Adam’s powers are magically based, and he is vulnerable. This vulnerability puts Superman and Adam at an equal footing. Black Adam uses magic to his advantage, but Superman responds with powers the magical being doesn’t have – i.e. heat vision. After briefly getting Superman out of the way, Black Adam continues his pursuit of Billy, who runs into the subway, again encountering the homeless man he helped earlier. The man gives him a subway token, telling him he would be paid back. Billy runs out onto the tracks, with Black Adam still in pursuit. Billy is caught on the tracks when a train apparently runs Billy over, causing Adam to leave. Billy awakens to find he is on an empty subway car. The token begins to glow and he begins to crackle with lightning. In the lightning, Billy sees flashes of his life, including his parents’ headstone, the orphanage, and his foster parents who throw him out, leaving him on the streets.

He gets off of the subway car at the next stop, but finds himself in a gigantic cave with statues of the Seven Deadly Sins. Billy finds his way to the Wizard Shazam who tells the boy that he is the next Chosen One. He explains that Black Adam had been his champion 5000 years ago, but Teth-Adam had used his power for personal gain and corrupted the gift. He was then banished to the farthest star in the sky, and now Black Adam has returned seeking vengeance. The Wizard then causes a cave in, telling him that he wishes to atone for the mistake of creating Black Adam, but tells Billy that should he need him, he has only to speak the Wizard’s name. Billy narrowly escapes the cave as it collapses.  Outside, the battle rages between Superman and Black Adam. Superman is barely able to hold his own against the magic used. Superman is again knocked unconscious. Billy confronts Black Adam and defiantly tells Adam to leave Superman alone. He tries to hit an amused Black Adam. Billy anxiously shouts “I need a little help here, Shazam”, which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel. He quickly counters Adam’s attacks with his newfound abilities. Billy has only a few minutes to discover his powers; i.e. speed, strength and flight. He also discovers that randomly saying the Wizard’s name takes the powers away just as quickly.

A recovered Superman is unsure of what to make of this new superhuman, but they soon discover they are on the same side. Black Adam resorts to destroying a dam which threatens to flood Fawcett City. Landing, Black Adam stops a passing car, removing its female driver to hold as a hostage. He tells Billy he must surrender himself in his mortal form, and he will release the woman. Billy complies, and Black Adam throws the hostage into the sky. But before Billy can say his magic word, Black Adam covers his mouth to silence him. From out of nowhere, Adam is blasted by Superman’s heat vision. He stopped the potential flooding after quickly freezing the water with his super cold breath. Superman and Black Adam begin fighting again, but Billy is now able to utter the magic word. Adam is beaten by Marvel who stomps him into a crater in the street. Superman talks the Captain out of murdering Adam to prevent further acts of evil. Adam declares that only death will stop him. The homeless man appears once again and reveals himself to be the boy’s guardian angel Tawky Tawny. Tawky reverts to his true form as a tiger and tells Superman and Captain Marvel that he will make sure the Wizard will send Black Adam far across the universe this time; it will take ten thousand years to return. To keep from being banished even farther from Earth, Black Adam shouts “Shazam” which turns him back into the mortal Teth-Adam, whose body has aged during the thousands years he has been gone. He turns to dust in front of the two superheroes. It was an apparent bluff, as Tawny admits the Wizard is indeed dead. As Tawny walks away, Superman looks at Captain Marvel and says “You have some unusual friends.” Billy finds himself encountering the bullies again in the alley as before. The bullies push Billy against a wall, and defiantly dare him to talk back; daring him to say “…just one word.” To which, it is implied through the appearance of lightning, Billy replies “Shazam…”.This movie was animated very well and the character models were very good. The overall appearance, especially the backgrounds, had a slightly hazy, washed-out look to them at times, giving it an almost anime-style look. They do some really cool animation during the fights between Superman/Marvel and Black Adam, such as some slow motion effects during a couple of the really hard hits, that really punctuate the impact. The voice acting and choices of the actors were quite good (especially Arnold Vosloo as Black Adam),  I’ve always thought Black Adam was a really cool bad guy, and his personality and voice were pretty much as I’ve always envisioned them to be, and I thought the ending was particularly interesting and surprising.

 

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 6

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Tamara Taylor (Lost)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)

David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, and Tamara Taylor in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Michael Grant Terry (Grimm)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Dylan Bruno (The Rage: Carrie 2)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Scott Michael Campbell (Shameless)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)
Katheryn Winnick (Vikings)
B.J. Britt (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Joel David Moore (Avatar)
Antonio Sabato Jr. (General Hospital)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Lisa Marcos (On My Block)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans Go To The Movies)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Pej Vahdat (Shameless)
Kerry O’Malley (Annabelle: Creation)
Robin Riker (The Glades)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Ryan Cartwright (Alphas)
Frederick Koehler (Death Race)
Cedric Yarbrough (The Boss)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Mark Famiglietti (Terminator 3)
Deirdre Lovejoy (The Blacklist)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Tiffany Hines (Nikita)
Matthew John Armstrong (Heores)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Laura Regan (Minority Report TV)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)
Elizabeth Ho (Disjointed)
Leslie-Anne Huff (The Vampire Diaries)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Marisa Ramirez (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Scott Lowell (Adoptable)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Sarah Baker (Young Sheldon)
Geoff Stults (Wedding Crashers)
Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Scorpian King)
Mini Anden (Chuck)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
McKenzie Applegate (The Best of Enemies)
Sean O’Bryan (Vantage Point)
Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars)
Annalise Basso (Ouija: Origin of Evil)
Denise Dowse (Starship Troopers)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)To resuscitate a dead team out of their scattered disappearance is not an easy task. Luckily the DA in Washington DC is a powerful woman, stubborn and resolute, and she generally gets what she wants. So she brought Agent Booth back from Afghanistan, and Temperance Brennan, aka Bones, from the exotic place where she was trying to get some archaeologically interesting bones with Daisy, Dr Sweet’s girl friend, and Dr Sweet from his hideout somewhere in Paris where he was having a showbiz career as a cabaret singer. They all come back, change clothes and back in the business in a jiffy. Angela and Dr Hodgins are also back though from not so far away and Angela is pregnant.
As usual one case per episode, clean and neat, always dealing with a lot of bones, gross and dirty, soaked in a lot of decomposed muck with a tremendous number of maggots, worms and other corpse parasites. A series not to watch while eating anything more delicate than dry cookies.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Angela and Dr Hodgins have a full plate with the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby. For them that’s enough and that will require some help from a friendly psychiatrist because it is hard for the father not to become overprotective and it is hard for the mother to accept the physical handicap this pregnancy may represent. Yet they decided that working with the people they are used to work and live with was the best thing for the pregnancy, the mother and the child. Angela was not alone at any moment of her days or nights.Agent Booth brought a journalist back from Afghanistan, a sort of love substitute for Temperance. But will that not cause some problems, like conflicting interests between the two professions? And Booth with his own son is already very busy in life. Will that new woman in the picture be able to cope with a child, what’s more the child of another woman? And the question of marriage will come up sooner or later and how are the two going to react to that eventuality? Probably not very well, maybe not too bad. A decision that is always difficult to take for someone who is constantly in the field of police investigation and for a journalist just back from a war zone.Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)You have the interns still rotating, the four of them. They are the surprise of each episode because they are so different and they can be so funny, though at times they are just funny for us because they are mismatched with what is happening around them, but that’s what interns are all about. Unluckily one will end up very badly. That’s not the first case, but so far none had ended up that badly. But a song will carry him through: lime and coconut, sung in a chorus all together, mellow and heart stirring.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)There will be a case that will run over the whole season, the case of a sniper who had been a colleague and friend of Booth in Afghanistan and who came back slightly berserk and decided that what he did over there was good enough for the USA too and he started killing those who were rotten, and those who were in his way for his type of justice and these were only collateral victims for him, hence justified by the end. It will take the whole team to stop him and it will bring a lot of suffering and even mourning to that team.

REVIEW: THE MUMMY RETURNS

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I. Joe)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
Patricia Velásquez (Mindhunters)
Freddie Boath (The Pillars of The Earth)
Alun Armstrong (Van Helsing)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Shaun Parkes (The River)
Aharon Ipalé (Charlie Wilson’s war)

In 3067 BC, the Scorpion King leads his army on a campaign to conquer the world. After fighting for seven years, his army is defeated while attacking Thebes and exiled to the desert of Ahm Shere, where his men die of heat exhaustion. After vowing to give Anubis his soul for the power to defeat his enemies, an oasis forms to hide the Scorpion King’s pyramid and he is given a legion of jackal warriors in return. The Army of Anubis sweeps across Egypt, but once their task is finished, Anubis claims the Scorpion King’s soul and his army.In 1933, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell explore a ruined mortuary temple in ancient Thebes with their son, Alex, where they find the Bracelet of Anubis. In London, the bracelet locks onto Alex, showing him a vision directing him to Ahm Shere. Alex has seven days to reach the oasis, or the bracelet will kill him when the sun’s rays shine on the Scorpion King’s pyramid.Evelyn is captured by an Egyptian cult who resurrect Imhotep; they wish to use his power to defeat the Scorpion King, giving him command of Anubis’ army to take over the world. The cult, led by Baltus Hafez, the British Museum’s curator, includes a warrior named Lock-Nah and Meela Nais; the latter being a reincarnation of Imhotep’s love interest Anck-su-namun. Rick sets out to rescue Evelyn, accompanied by her brother Jonathan and the Medjai Ardeth Bay.Hafez attempts to sacrifice Evelyn but a fight ensues between Rick and Imhotep. Imhotep calls on the help of mummified soldiers to kill Rick and the others. After freeing Evelyn, they flee on a double-decker bus with the soldiers in pursuit. After defeating them, Alex is kidnapped by Lock-Nah, and along with the cult travels to Egypt. The O’Connells pursue them to rescue Alex, along with Rick’s associate from his past adventures, Izzy, a pilot, who provides the group with transportation.The bracelet gives Alex directions to Ahm Shere that Imhotep follows and they travel there by train. At each location, Alex leaves clues for his parents, who follow in Izzy’s dirigible. Imhotep uses the Book of the Dead to give Meela Nais the soul of Anck-su-namun, but by doing so he allows Evelyn to unlock the memories of her previous life as Princess Nefertiri, the bracelet’s keeper and Pharaoh Seti I’s daughter. Lock-Nah finds Alex leaving clues, so Imhotep makes a wall of water that attacks the dirigible, causing the O’Connells to crash into the jungle of Ahm Shere. Izzy stays with the dirigible in hopes to repair it. By nightfall, the O’Connells attack the cult, and both groups are attacked by pygmy mummies. Rick retrieves Alex while Ardeth Bay kills Lock-Nah. They escape the pygmies, who kill the cult except for Baltus. Imhotep and Anck-su-namun escape unharmed.Rick and Alex eventually make it to the pyramid before sunrise, where the bracelet detaches from Alex’s arm. Ardeth regroups with the Medjai in case Anubis’s army rises. Anck-su-namun soon stabs Evelyn, killing her, and escapes with Imhotep. Rick, determined to avenge the death of Evelyn, pursues Imhotep. Baltus puts on the bracelet and revives the army. Anubis takes Imhotep’s powers, wanting Imhotep to fight as a mortal. Rick finds Imhotep summoning the Scorpion King and fights him. The Scorpion King interrupts them, and Imhotep lies to him that Rick was sent to kill him. At the same time, the Medjai battle Anubis’s army of jackal warriors. While Rick and the Scorpion King fight, Baltus is killed. Jonathan and Alex steal the Book of the Dead from Anck-su-namun and use it to resurrect Evelyn, who confronts Anck-su-namun while Alex and Jonathan go to help Rick.The scepter Jonathan has been carrying extends into a spear that can kill the Scorpion King. The Medjai defeats Anubis’ army, but have only defeated the vanguard; the full army charges toward them. Rick kills the Scorpion King, using the scepter, sending him and his army back into the Underworld, which causes the oasis to be sucked back into the pyramid. Rick and Imhotep hang above a pit that leads to the underworld. Evelyn risks her life to save Rick, but Anck-su-namun abandons Imhotep, who, heartbroken, chooses to fall to his death. Anck-su-namun, while escaping, falls into a pit of scorpions and is stung to death. The O’Connells reach the top of the pyramid, which is sinking into the desert. Izzy arrives with a modified dirigible and rescues the O’Connells just as the oasis and the pyramid disappears completely. They depart into the sunset, with Ardeth Bay saluting them, before riding off.A  fresh element to the movie is an interesting  sub-plot about Evy. Her bizarre visions are actually flashbacks from her past life as Nefertiri. Although unnecessary to the movie overall, it does provide some moments of revelation that intertwine with the history of Imhotep’s forbidden love, Anck Su Namun. Although this movie feels like it’s just a bigger and better version of the first film, that’s certainly not a bad thing. Hell, what made the first film so memorable was its highly entertaining blend of action, adventure, special effects, and comedy. Even better, it was all wrapped up in engaging Egyptian folklore.

REVIEW: THE MUMMY (1999)

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I. Joe)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Kevin J. O’ Connor (Van Helsing)
Jonathan Hyde (The Strain)
Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Patricia Velásquez (Mindhunters)
Bernard Fox (Titanic)
Omid Djalili (Alien Autopsy)

In Thebes, Egypt, 1290 BC, high priest Imhotep has a love affair with Anck-su-Namun, the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I. When the Pharaoh discovers the affair, Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun assassinate him. Imhotep flees, while Anck-su-Namun kills herself, intending for Imhotep to resurrect her. Imhotep and his priests steal her corpse and travel to Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, but the resurrection ritual is stopped by Seti’s bodyguards, the Medjai. Imhotep’s priests are all mummified alive, while Imhotep himself is sentenced to suffer the Hom Dai, the worst of Egyptian curses, buried alive with flesh-eating scarab beetles. Imhotep is sealed away in a sarcophagus at the feet of a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis and kept under strict surveillance by the Medjai to prevent Imhotep’s return.In 1926, Jonathan Carnahan presents his sister Evelyn, a Cairo librarian and aspiring Egyptologist, with an intricate box and map, which leads to Hamunaptra. Jonathan reveals he stole the box from an American adventurer, Rick O’Connell, who discovered the city while in the French Foreign Legion. Rick makes a deal with Evelyn to lead them there if they release him from prison.Rick leads Evelyn and her party to the city, where the group encounters a band of American treasure hunters guided by Rick’s cowardly colleague Beni Gabor. The expeditions are attacked by the Medjai, led by the warrior Ardeth Bay. Against Ardeth’s advice to leave the city, the two expeditions continue to excavate. Evelyn searches for the famous Book of the Living, a book made of pure gold. Instead of finding the book, she, Rick, and Jonathan stumble upon the statue of Anubis and the remains of Imhotep buried underneath. The team of Americans, meanwhile, discover the black Book of the Dead, accompanied by canopic jars carrying Anck-su-Namun’s preserved organs.At night, Evelyn takes the Book of the Dead and reads a page aloud, accidentally awakening Imhotep. The expeditions return to Cairo, but Imhotep follows them with the help of Beni. Imhotep returns to full strength by killing the Americans one by one, and brings the ten plagues back to Egypt. Seeking a way to stop Imhotep, Rick, Evelyn and Jonathan meet Ardeth at a museum. Ardeth hypothesizes that Imhotep wants to resurrect Anck-su-Namun again and plans to do so by sacrificing Evelyn. Evelyn believes that if the Book of the Dead brought Imhotep back to life, the Book of the Living can kill him again, and deduces the book’s whereabouts. Imhotep corners the group with an army of slaves. Evelyn agrees to accompany Imhotep if he spares the rest of the  group. Imhotep, Evelyn, and Beni return to Hamunaptra, pursued by Rick, Jonathan, and Ardeth. Imhotep prepares to sacrifice Evelyn, but she is rescued after an intense battle with Imhotep’s mummified priests. When Evelyn reads from the Book of Amun-Ra, Imhotep becomes mortal again, and Rick forces him into the River of Death. Imhotep leaves the world of the living, vowing revenge. While looting treasure from the pyramid, Beni accidentally sets off an ancient booby trap and is trapped by a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs as Hamunaptra collapses into the sand. Ardeth rides away as Rick and Evelyn kiss and, with Jonathan, ride off into the sunset on a pair of camels laden with Beni’s treasure.In terms of pure escapist fun, The Mummy was a huge success, and it holds up well thanks to Director Stephen Sommers balancing the elements involved so well.