REVIEW: LEGO DC BATMAN: FAMILY MATTERS

Starring

Troy Baker (Marvel Anime)
Alyson Stoner (Step Up 3D)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Hush)
Steve Blum (Wolverine & The X-Men)
Zach Callison (Justice League: War)
Gary Anthony Williams (TMNT: OFTS)
Cam Clarke (He-Man and The Masters of The Universe)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-man)
Tom Kenny (Catdog)
Nolan North (Ultimate Avengers)
André Sogliuzzo (Family Guy)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes to Rome)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Christian Lanz (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)After being bored with a board meeting after stopping Solomon Grundy from stealing a magic staff, Bruce Wayne puts a new machine, Brother Eye, in charge, as he proceeds to sell Wayne Tech. However, this leads to Two-Face buying the company, and plotting to use Brother Eye to take other Gotham and destroy both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Also, Red Hood has arrived to challenge the Bat Family.LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)While some people may not like this, this is actually a good film for kids who are not yet ready for films like the ones in the DCEU or the Dark Knight Trilogy. As a result of this being a Lego DC movie, they did change Red Hood’s origin story to be more kid-friendly, however, seeing as the Lego DC films are part of their own continuity, it should not be a problem. Also, the movie has some good references to classic Batman shows and cartoons (one scene has the bat poles from the 1966 Batman series, complete with automatic suit up, and another scene has a Grey Ghost playing as Batman and Two-Face duel with swords, a neat reference to the episode from Batman: The Animated Series).LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)However, there can be some annoying things (Nightwing and Batgirl keep bringing up a missed text that got them on non-speaking terms, which they never shut up about), but this is a good DTV movie and one that is perfect for younger kids or anyone into Lego or superheroes.LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)

REVIEW: SHAZAM

Starring

Zachary Levi (Chuck)
Asher Angel (Andi Mack)
Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes)
Jack Dylan Grazer (IT)
Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Faithe Herman (This Is Us)
Meagan Good (Saw V)
Grace Fulton (Annabelle: Creation)
Michelle Borth (Wonderland)
Ian Chen (A Dog’s Journey)
Ross Butler (13 Reasons Why)
Jovan Armand (The Middle)
D. J. Cotrona (G.I. Joe: Retalliation)
Cooper Andrews (The Walking Dead)
John Glover (Smallville)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

Mark Strong and Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)In 1974 Upstate New York, young Thaddeus Sivana is arguing with his father and older brother during a car trip when he is transported to the Rock of Eternity, a magical temple hidden in another dimension. He meets the ancient wizard Shazam, last of the Council of Wizards, who has spent centuries searching for a new champion who is “pure of heart” after the previous champion, driven by revenge, released the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world. Thaddeus is tempted by the Sins, entrapped in statues, and is deemed unworthy and returned to Earth.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)In present-day Philadelphia, foster child Billy Batson runs afoul of the law while searching for his birth mother and is placed in a group home run by Victor and Rosa Vasquez with five other foster children: Mary Bromfield, Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, Darla Dudley and superhero enthusiast Freddy Freeman. Meanwhile, an embittered adult Sivana discovers a way to return to the Rock of Eternity. There, he steals the Eye of Sin, becoming the Sins’ vessel and besting the Wizard before returning to Earth and using the Sins to murder his brother, father and Sivana Industries’ board of directors.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)At school, Billy saves Freddy from bullies and is chased into a subway, where Shazam summons Billy, chosen as the new champion. By calling Shazam’s name, Billy is transformed into an adult superhero endowed with the wizard’s name; thanking Billy, the Wizard turns to dust, leaving behind his staff. At home, Freddy helps Billy explore his newfound powers: electricity manipulation, near-invulnerability, super-strength, speed, and flight. Freddy’s videos of Shazam testing his powers become a viral sensation, and Billy begins skipping school to use his powers as Shazam for money and fame. Seeing Shazam save a bus on the news, Sivana challenges and easily defeats him, demanding he surrender his powers, but Shazam transforms back into Billy and escapes into a crowd. From the news, Sivana deduces Billy’s identity and abducts Freddy to find Billy. At the Vasquez home, the other children also infer Billy’s secret and tell him they have found his mother, who lives nearby.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)Billy reunites with his mother, but discovers she had abandoned him on purpose, feeling unqualified as a single teenage mother. Billy returns the compass she gave him as a toddler and leaves, telling her he needs to return to his real family. Sivana calls Billy, having taken his foster siblings hostage, and Billy as Shazam agrees to give Sivana his powers in exchange for the family’s safety. Sivana and Shazam travel to the Rock of Eternity where Sivana takes the wizard’s staff, but the siblings follow and attack Sivana. Shazam realizes that Sivana loses his powers when all seven Sins leave his body.Mark Strong and Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)Sivana pursues Shazam and his siblings to a winter carnival, unleashing the Sins upon the crowd. As Wrath battles Shazam, the other Sins capture his siblings, demanding his powers. When Sivana recalls the Sins, Shazam uses the opportunity to take the staff and stuns Sivana. Remembering the Wizard’s words, Billy uses the staff to share his powers, transforming his siblings into adult superheroes like him. Shazam breaks the staff and battles Sivana while his siblings distract the Sins. Shazam baits Envy out of Sivana’s body, leaving him powerless, and takes back the Eye of Sin which recaptures all the Sins. Billy and his siblings are hailed as heroes. Returning the Eye and the Sins to their prison, Billy and his siblings realize the Rock of Eternity can be their new lair. Later, Billy arrives at school as Shazam to have lunch with his siblings, revealing he has also invited Superman, to Freddy’s shock and joy.Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)In a mid-credits scene, an imprisoned Sivana is approached by a talking caterpillar, who proposes an alliance. In a post-credits scene, Shazam and Freddy test if the former can telepathically communicate with fish.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)Shazam was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. If you either a comic book fan or not regardless you will enjoy it from start to end. Although Shazam doesn’t contain as much fighting scenes you would see in movies these days it still leaves you with a fully polished story and character development. Shazam shows a teenage kid that gets powers and what he uses it for and obviously its typical things teenage kids would do. If you are plotting on whether or not to see it, the obvious answer is YES!

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: ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL (1941)

CAST

Tom Tyler (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon)
Frank Coghlan Jr. (Hell’s House)
William Benedict (The Sting)
Louise Currie (The Ape Man)
Robert Strange (Captain America 1944)
Nigel De Brulier (Zorro Rides Again)
John Davidson (The Devil Bat)

The Adventures of Captain Marvel, Tom Tyler, (Serial), 1941 Photo

Modern fans might assume the first comic-book superhero to get the movie treatment would have been Superman or Batman. In fact, one of their biggest rivals throughout the 1940s beat both of them to the screen by several years. According to Wikipedia, Republic Pictures did try to make a Superman serial first, but National Periodicals (which later became DC Comics) turned them down. The studio then approached Fawcett Comics, publishers of Captain Marvel, who was introduced shortly after the Man of Steel and quickly became one of the Golden Age’s most popular heroes.


The concept that kids flocked to was simple. Orphaned 12-year-old newsboy Billy Batson is selected by a wizard named Shazam to replace him as Earth’s protector. When Billy says the Wizard’s name—an acronym of the assorted gods and heroes who were the source of his power (Solomon’s wisdom, Hercules’ strength, Atlas’ stamina, Zeus’ power, Achilles’ courage, and Mercury’s speed)—he’s transformed by a magic bolt of lightning into Captain Marvel.


The movie version is somewhat faithful to the comics. In a cave somewhere in Thailand, a Billy Batson who looks to be somewhere in his mid-to-late 20s (Frank Coghlan Jr.) is granted the powers of Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler) by the old Wizard (Nigel De Brulier). This Billy works as the radio operator for an expedition into “The Valley of Tombs,” where a bunch of American archaeologists break into an ancient tomb over the objections of the local natives. While Billy finds Shazam and gets his superhero identity, the explorers discover “The Scorpion,” a bug-shaped device that functions as a “solar atom smasher,” concentrating the sun’s rays through a series of lenses into a powerful beam that can destroy human life or turn ordinary objects into gold. The Scorpion, which is placed in a heavily fortified tomb, is one of the local culture’s most sacred objects, so naturally, the white archaeologists just take it for themselves. That draws the ire of a mysterious evildoer also named “The Scorpion,” who is the serial’s villain.He sets out to reclaim the atom smasher, while the archaeologists divide its many lenses amongst themselves in order to protect it; over the course of the 12 chapters, the Scorpion sends his henchman to retrieve each crucial piece while Billy and Captain Marvel try to thwart his progress. Serials like ‘Adventures of Captain Marvel’ were originally programmed to run in weekly installments at theaters around the country. They weren’t meant to be watched in one sitting—and frankly it shows. The episodes all rely on a handful of tropes (chase scenes, fist fights, cliffhangers) that begin to get awful repetitive over the course of more than three hours of action. If you’re going to watch ‘Captain Marvel,’ your best bet is to do it the way it was intended; in small chunks before other feature presentations. That’ll keep things from getting too stale, and let you bask in the film’s pleasures in smaller, more manageable doses.


Those pleasures are mostly of the two-fisted action variety. ‘Captain Marvel’ was directed by John English and William Witney, who were well-known in their day for their thrilling, stunt-laden serials. This one is no different, and even on a relatively limited budget (and with some bargain basement special effects) they do a very respectable job of conjuring Captain Marvel to life. Some of the stunts are dodgy, but a lot of them still work, like Captain Marvel bursting through walls like they were made out of cardboard (probably because they were made out of cardboard) or breaking rifles over his knee like they’re made out of wax (probably because they were made out of wax). And the fight scenes, which rely on the actors’ and their doubles’ athleticism instead of frenetic editing and shaky camerawork, are fantastic. The centerpiece battle in Chapter 10 between Billy Batson and the Scorpion’s goons, for example, is more fun than anything in ‘Taken 3.’ And there’s at least half a dozen more fights just like it.tom-tyler-shazam-the-adventures-of-captain-marvel-serialThere’s less to recommend about the story itself, which is mostly about Billy trying to track down the true identity of the Scorpion. Before too long, he realizes the Scorpion is actually one of the archeologists attempting to subvert the group from within, but he guesses incorrectly several times before the real bad guy reveals himself in the final chapter. (And this guy’s supposed to have the “wisdom” of Solomon? Yeah, no.) There are no clues or any real sense of mystery; it’s mostly just a process-of-elimination guessing game. Again, part of this is the nature of the beast; a serial is meant to be so simple that each chapter can be understood on in its own, in case a viewer happened to catch, say, Chapter 3, at the theater without seeing the first two. It’s easy to see why Republic wanted comic-book heroes for their serials; they’re well-suited to the format. Not only were comics loaded with the sort of action and intrigue that were the serials’ bread-and-butter, but the construct of a hero and his secret identity also served as an effective cost-cutting measure. Most of the film could follow the human alter ego sleuthing or romancing his leading lady, while reserving his costumed personality.