Archive for the ‘DC Comics Universe’ Category

Kings Build Bridges

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park, Martin Short, Temuera Morrison

Running Time: 2 hours and 4 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Director James Wan’s highly anticipated sequel to the 2018 smash hit Aquaman is finally here with all the cast reprising their roles including Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Patrick Wilson as King Om, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Mantra, Amber Heard as Mera and Nicole Kidman as mother of both Aquaman and King Om, the luminous Atlanna.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a fitting farewell film for this last phase of the DC Universe and closing the chapter on the current set of stars in the Justice League. From 2025, there will be a completely reimagined DC Comics Universe with the new Superman film.

The popularity of superhero films have waned after the peak of 2019 with Avengers: End Game and 2022’s excellent Wakanda Forever. Black Adam failed to be impressionable in 2022 but perhaps a reinvention is required in the wake of the new technologically advanced decade of the 2020’s.

Nevertheless, Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson are excellent as half-brothers, fighting each other while also protecting each other as they battle the evil Black Mantra played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who plays a convincing villain up until the point when he steals Aquaman’s baby son, Arthur Junior.

Randall Park is brilliant as Dr Stephen Shin who facilitates between being loyal to Black Mantra and then trying to appease Aquaman and the Atlanteans upon first glimpse.

With an overarching theme of ocean conservation, and global warming, James Wan keeps Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom visually splendid with dazzling special effects and light in tone, punctuating the narrative with some perfect humour especially between the two brothers. This superhero film is really about Aquaman rekindling his relationship with his supposedly evil half-brother, which Patrick Wilson plays perfectly.

Amber Heard is back as Mira with bright red hair and Dolph Lundgren plays King Nereus while comic actor Martin Short voices the Kingfish.

With the seven Kingdoms of Atlantis battling each other including the evil lost kingdom, eventually Aquaman as leader learns that kings need to build bridges and not destroys relationships. Even the undersea creatures eventually decide to negotiate with the surface dwellers in a bid to save the planet.

As a fluorescent fantasy adventure film and a fitting end to the narrative arc which started with the Justice League, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is funny, entertaining and action packed showing that Jason Momoa relished the chance to play a lesser known super hero, whose muscular powers were amphibiously flexed.

Entertaining and pure fantasy, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for those that enjoy one last impressive adventure from the receding age of big budget superhero films.

Even Superheroes have Moms

The Flash

Director: Andy Muschietti

Cast: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Michael Shannon, Sasha Calle, Jeremy Irons, Ron Livingston, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Kiersey Clemons, Gal Gadot, Maribel Verdu

Running Time: 2 hours and 24 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Argentine director Andy Muschietti tackles the origin story of The Flash in Warner Brothers standalone film of the same title featuring the tremendously talented Ezra Miller as Barry Alan aka The Flash, whose best friend is Batman. Which is really cool.

The Flash has popped up as a secondary superhero character in numerous DC films including Justice League in 2017, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in 2016. The Flash gives Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) a perfect chance to shine as an actor and he certainly does as he plays two versions of himself quite brilliantly with perfectly nuanced dexterity. He plays the current version of Barry Alan and a much younger more naïve version of the same character as they both battle to go back in time and reverse the crucial moment when their mother Noah Allan played by Spanish actress Maribel Verdu (Pan’s Labyrinth, Y Tu Mama Tambien) is murdered at home while their father Henry played by Ron Livingston is wrongly convicted of the crime.

Despite warnings from the rest of the Justice League including Batman and Wonder Woman, The Flash messes with the space time continuum and changes the past releasing multiple versions of Batman and General Zod, a Kryptonite after Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El played by Sasha Calle, commonly known as Supergirl.

The Flash loses his known version of Batman played by Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo, Good Will Hunting) and discovers an older, wiser version of Bruce Wayne played with panache by Oscar nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman) complete with a cavernous Bat Cave, possibly one of the coolest scenes in the film. Together they band up and rescue Supergirl and attempt to fight the mighty evil General Zod, perfectly played by Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals).

While the first half of director Andy Muschietti’s superhero film is slightly shambolic, the second half is where the director finds his groove and he relies heavily on the screen presence of Ezra Miller who really is brilliant as The Flash. Let’s hope Warner Bros makes a sequel with Ezra Miller.

The screenwriters keep the narrative tight and the action constant, but always return to the pivotal moment of when Barry loses his mother, emphasizing that even superheroes have moms.

With high production values and a solid supporting cast, The Flash is a slightly gothic and very twisty addition to the DC Comics universe but a worthy attempt at establishing The Flash as a tangible superhero who should in time gain as much notoriety as Batman, Superman and the rest of the gang.

At 2 hours and24 minutes, The Flash is long, but Ezra Miller sustains the pace and this superhero action film, despite some repetitive visual effects, gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. Audiences should wait for the film’s final scene as there is a surprise cameo appearance of another Batman…

The Daughters of Atlas

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Rachel Zegler, Helen Mirren, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Ross Butler, D. J. Cotrona, Grace Caroline Currey, Gal Gadot , Meagan Good

Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Swedish director David F. Sandberg returns to the Shazam franchise to make the highly anticipated sequel to the 2019 film, simply known as Shazam: Fury of the Gods.

The Gods in this case are the perilous daughters of Atlas, Anthea played by West Side Story star Rachel Zegler, Kalypso played by Lucy Liu (Kill Bill, Chicago, Charlie’s Angels) and the eldest sister Hespera oddly played by Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen) who is quite surreal in a superhero film. However, Mirren does bring a certain gravitas to a film which is primarily aimed at school kids. The scenes between Mirren and Levi are hilarious.

At the centre of Shazam: Fury of the Gods, is Shazam himself wonderfully played again by Zachary Levi in which his younger 18 year old self Billy Batson is played by Asher Angel, who along with his fellow superheroes including Freddy, the older version played by Adam Brody and the younger version brilliantly played by Jack Dylan Grazer, team up together to fight the evil Daughters of Atlas, who unbeknownst to the human population of Philadelphia decide to wreak havoc on the city.

Instruments of havoc for the Gods include ancient Greek creatures and a fearsome dragon which Kalypso loves to ride, referencing the infamous scenes from HBO’s Game of Thrones and more recently The House of the Dragon. During the epic battle scenes unicorns roam the streets of Philadelphia which elevates the film completely into fantasy.

Shazam tries to negotiate with Hespera at a fast food outlet only to be chucked against the wall, as all three daughters possess enormous unearthly powers. While the two older sisters aren’t looking, the beautiful Anthea wonderfully played by Rachel Zegler falls in love with the younger, slightly awkward teenage Freddy superbly played by Jack Dylan Grazer, who at nearly twenty years old is a talent to watch. The onscreen chemistry between Zegler and Grazer grounds the visual effects heavy superhero film and gives the narrative a positive romantic shine, unexpected in most comic book capers. Then again there is always the crush that Shazam has on a more powerful superhero: Wonder Woman.

Unlike the menacing world of director Matt Reeves’s excellent film The Batman, Warner Brothers Discovery Studio decided to make a brighter superhero film and in that respect Shazam: Fury of the Gods delivers a fantastically entertaining film which is perfect for light entertainment. If viewers don’t take the film too seriously, then they will find it immensely enjoyable.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and there is a wonderful surprise at the end as the DC Superhero universe continues to expand exponentially. Recommended viewing as a family film.

Unleashing the Brutality of the Gods

Black Adam

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, Qunitessa Swindell, Aldris Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari. Bodhi Sabongui, Henry Winkler, Djimon Hounsou, Viola Davis

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 4 minutes

The Spanish director of Jungle Cruise and The Commuter, Jaume Collet-Serra assembles an interesting cast for his first foray into the Superhero universe with his new film Black Adam featuring Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs and Shaw, Jungle Cruise) in the title role.

In a fictitious Middle East looking country named Kahndaq, which is meant to resemble Egypt, an ancient god named Teth Adam was re-awakened after 5000 years. However Teth Adam as a God is out for revenge and brutally unleashes the power of the Gods with no mercy.

When Adrianna Tomaz played by Sarah Shahi and her son Amon unleash the power of Teth Adam soon the Justice Society is re-assembled by Amanda Waller played again by Oscar winner Viola Davis (Fences) to go and investigate what this new god is and whether he can become a superhero.

The Justice Society consists of a fascinating mix of superheroes from the debonair Dr Fate wonderfully played with panache by former Bond star Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia, The Foreigner) to Hawkman played by Aldris Hodge (Hidden Figures); from the beautiful Cyclone played by Quintessa Swindell (Granada Nights) to Atom Smasher played by Noah Centiano who all arrive on Kahndaq to fight it out against an angry Teth Adam also known as Black Adam.

While the Justice Society and Black Adam battle each other in a visually spectacular scene, they really need to focus on who the real enemy is: Ishmael, a descendant of the first king of Kahndaq and leader of intergang, played by Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin). As the Justice Society and Black Adam start aligning their objectives, Adrianna’s son Amon superbly played by Egyptian Polish actor Bodhi Sabongui is kidnapped by the Intergang.

While the storyline of Black Adam is convoluted, director Jaume Collet-Serra makes the film visually spectacular grounding the film firmly in the fantasy superhero genre with excellent special effects and spell bounding action scenes.

Dwayne Johnson is likeable as Black Adam, although the superhero mantle does sit quite wearily on his head, making his casting choice questionable. However, Johnson is such a megastar that audiences will come to see him in anything.

Certainly entertaining, Black Adam is a bizarre and lavish fantasy action adventure filled with multiple superhero’s, zombies and crazy gods and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and audiences must stay for the very end to see a cameo appearance.

City of Vengeance

The Batman

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Rupert Penry-Jones, Barry Keoghan

Running Time: 2 hours and 56 minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves goes full out for the highly anticipated Batman remake simply called The Batman featuring Robert Pattinson as the stubbled caped crusader ready to fight off all Gotham’s evil creatures. In this case there are several.

Drawing massive inspiration from such films as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and David Fincher’s Seven, Matt Reeves paints Gotham as a dark and seedy metropolis filled with particularly twisted individuals, corrupt politicians and a serial killer that leaves cryptic clues while he livestreams killing his victims.

Gotham becomes a City of Vengeance as The Batman has to battle the entirely twisted The Riddler superbly played with a particular sinister panache by Paul Dano (There will be Blood, 12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine). Paul Dano’s The Riddler accurately rivals Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar winning portrayal of Joker in 2019.

Besides The Riddler that Batman has to contend with, there is the slinky Catwoman wonderfully played with a nefarious independence by Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road). The onscreen chemistry between Kravitz and Pattinson is electrifying as they reluctantly band together to track down The Riddler while also dealing with The Penguin played by an unrecognisable Colin Farrell (In Bruges, The Gentleman, The Beguiled) who is the henchman to the reclusive city gangster Carmine Falcone superbly played by John Turturro (Barton Fink, Quiz Show, Jungle Fever).

Screenwriters Matt Reeves and Peter Craig delve into all the Bruce Wayne mythology, including the dark and treacherous past of Bruce Wayne’s wealthy parents and their link with the Arkham asylum.

Robert Pattinson comes across as a less confident Batman, a Billionaire cape crusader less comfortable with becoming the saviour of the city, until he reconciles that this is his destiny. Pattinson’s Batman is far different from Ben Affleck as the arrogant Batman or Christian Bale as the wealthy, snobbish Batman who feels that it his right to defend the city because he inherited billions.

Pattinson is brilliant in the role of The Batman giving the iconic screen character a three dimensionality never seen before especially when forced to deal with the criminally insane but ingenious The Riddler who Paul Dano portrays as an extraordinary orphan with a meticulous grudge to bear against the rich, corrupt and powerful. 

From the seedy nightclubs of Gotham including 44 below, from Zoe Kravitz’s excellent interpretation of Catwoman, from the brilliant pacing of the film, from the quietly dark periods before the explosions rock the outskirts of Gotham and all hell breaks loose, The Batman gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10.

This is a long film but director Matt Reeves gives every cinema goer their money’s worth. This interpretation of The Batman is enthralling, gothic and grungy. Highly recommended viewing.

Project Starfish

The Suicide Squad

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, Sylvester Stallone, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Pete Davidson, Flula Borg, Jai Courtney, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Peter Capaldi, Juan Diego Botto, Taika Waititi, David Dastmalchian

Film Rating: 5.5 out of 10

How did Warner Brothers go from the brilliant Oscar winning Joker in the DC superhero universe to this bizarre concoction of the 2021 reboot of Suicide Squad, unimaginably entitled The Suicide Squad?

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn clearly drew on a lot of inspiration from the films of Mexican director Guillermo del Toro specifically the Oscar winning Pan’s Labyrinth and more recently 2018’s The Shape of Water. Clearly, del Toro’s brilliance as a film maker did not shine off on director James Gunn as he delivers a bloated hot mess of a superhero film The Suicide Squad, featuring too many characters, glorified violence and a plot as bizarre as a Kafka novel with drug induced input from William S. Boroughs author of The Naked Lunch.

2021’s The Suicide Squad is so crazy, so unbelievably off the wall, that even the brilliant moments are overshadowed by some truly ridiculous moments which involved a whole new gang of The Suicide Squad attacking a fictional crackpot Hispanic island in which a crazed glorified dictator is harbouring an alien lifeform in the shape of a giant starfish.

Not even Oscar winner Viola Davis (Fences) could steady this crazy ship of fools, nor could Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya, Bombshell) as she dutifully reprises her role of the psychotic Harley Quinn, alongside Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, newcomer Idris Elba as Bloodsport and John Cena, seen frequently in white underpants as Peacemaker.

There are an abundance of sidekicks including David Dastmalchian as the mother obsessed Polka Dot Man, Sylvester Stallone as the talking shark King Shark, beautiful German actor Flula Borg as the gorgeous Javelin and a briefly seen Jai Courtenay as Captain Boomerang.

The scriptwriters killed their darlings in the opening credits of The Suicide Squad, making way for a convoluted plot involving alien life forms, a vain Hispanic dictator on a remote Caribbean island and a giant starfish which eventually attacks a city the size of Haiti. With such a confluence of confusing characters not one of them stood out as remarkably noticeable, although both Idris Elba and Margot Robbie tried their best to steady this sinking ship of wrecked and psychotic superheroes.

The only bright moment in The Suicide Squad, was the brief cameo appearance of Oscar winning screen writer of Jojo Rabbit Taika Waititi on a rooftop in Lisbon, Portugal, appearing as Ratcatcher. 

Despite the creative production design, The Suicide Squad is deeply disturbing, a film that glorifies death and violence without ever being responsible about its moral implications for the viewers who watch it. Where Joker was intricate and careful about its psychological makeup, The Suicide Squad is unbelievable careless about their characterizations.

The Suicide Squad gets a film rating of 5.5 out of 10, outlandish and cluttered with dazzling images, psychotic superheroes and zombies. Do not watch this film if you are stressed or taking hallucinogenic drugs.

Wish Upon a Star

Wonder Woman 1984

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Lily Aspell, Gabriella Wilde

Director Patty Jenkins had a hit with Wonder Woman back in 2017. Little did she realize what a challenge the sequel would be to get released on the big screen in 2020 amidst the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus pandemic?

Parent company Warner Brothers decided to come to a strange compromise which has divided the battling film industry in 2020 and release the sequel Wonder Woman 1984 in cinemas where possible and also simultaneously on the streaming service HBO Max.

Fortunately I was lucky enough to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in a cinema and apart from the impressive opening sequence featuring a young Wonder woman wonderfully played by Lily Aspell fighting in an Amazonian competition overseen by Antiope played by Robin Wright and Hippolyte played by Connie Nielsen, the first part of this sequel seemed slightly directionless and admittedly took a while to find its feet.

While setting the film in Washington DC in 1984 and using lots of gimmicky film references to the 1980’s especially the clothes, audiences will find Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman working at the Smithsonian in Washington DC where she meets the nerdy Barbara Minerva and the seemingly harmless oil entrepreneur Max Lord wonderfully played with a zany insecurity by Chilean actor Pedro Pascal (Kingsman: The Golden Circle, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Great Wall).

The plot line stumbles here at the beginning of the film and only really gets invigorated once Max Lord wishes upon an archaeological stone and gets bizarre superpowers to grant wishes to every human in the world, good or bad. One of Lord’s first recipient is Barbara Minerva who gets super human speed and agility enough to turn her into Cheetah, another superhero who Wonder Woman will definitely confront.

Everything goes south from there as Maxwell Lord flies off to Egypt to gain all the countries oil supplies and Wonder Woman with the help of her first love Steve Trevor, a wonderful reprisal by Chris Pine chase after Lord on a stunning action packed sequence on an Egyptian desert highway.

What is remarkable about Wonder Woman 1984 is how little screen time, the male characters really get especially Steve Trevor and Max Lord, although as a villain Pedro Pascal gives his egomaniac character some personal dimension, especially some heart rendering flashbacks to his tortured childhood as an outcast.

Naturally the stars of Wonder Woman 1984 are Diana Prince and Barbara Minerva and it’s their showdown as two alpha females as Wonder Woman and Cheetah on a stormy island at the film’s end is what makes the second half of this sequel so worthwhile.

Wonder Woman 1984 is certainly not as brilliant as the original film, but given the challenging year of its release, it’s about the best form of escapism that 2020 has to offer and is worth watching. Wonder Woman 1984 gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Viewers can catch the film on HBO Max or at your nearest cinema depending on which country you are in.

Gotham’s Girl Power

Birds of Prey

Director: Cathy Yan

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco

Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya; Bombshell) reprises her role as Harley Quinn the now ex-girlfriend of Joker whose character was first introduced in 2016’s Suicide Squad in a new standalone film called Birds of Prey which doesn’t unfortunately pack the same gender affirming punch as director Patty Jenkin’s groundbreaking film Wonder Woman.

Although both Birds of Prey, Suicide Squad and the Oscar winning Joker all fall under the Warner Brothers DC Comics franchise, Birds of Prey is not as brilliant as Wonder Woman but rather resorts to being too much of a garish man-hating super-hero film which doesn’t link back to Suicide Squad or even Justice League.

Birds of Prey features a suitably evil villain Roman Sionis devilishly played with camp enthusiasm by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge) along with his equally psychotic blonde haired side kick Victor Zsasz superbly played by Chris Messina (Argo, Live By Night)  who both go after Harley Quinn with a vengeance.

The crazy Harley Quinn soon teams up with a range of butt-kicking awesome females showing off Gotham’s Girl Power including hard drinking disgraced cop Renee Montaya wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Rosie Perez (Fearless), The Huntress played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Gemini Man, Kill the Messenger) whose alter ego is Helena Bartinelli who is the daughter of one of Gotham’s famed mob families and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance aka Black Canary who betrays Roman after watching his misogynist treatment of women in his zany nightclub.

This gang of Gotham girls aim to protect a local thief Cassandra Cain played by Ella Jay Basco who purposefully swallowed a sought after diamond wanted by the mob.

Not evolving beyond being a garish fantasy piece without a solid storyline and inadequately directed by Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey aims to confuse the viewer more than actually help them identify with Harley Quinn as a crazy but lovable blonde villain.

Problematically, Birds of Prey was released in cinemas too soon after the absolutely brilliant Todd Phillips film Joker in which Joaquin Phoenix has just won his first Oscar award for Best Actor.

With an ultra-saturated Gotham, Birds of Prey should have spent more time in post-production or with some decent script rewrites especially considering that the main theme of the film seems to be that it’s alright for violent girls to kill boys or even vice versa. The action was tasteless and the setting was confusing.

Birds of Prey gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and Margot Robbie should have known better than to do a questionable film version of Harley Quinn without a decent director and brilliant script on board. Even if there is a pet Hyena thrown in! Watch Birds of Prey at your own risk but it doesn’t touch the brilliance of Joker.

It’s Crazy Out There

Joker

Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert de Niro, Zazie Beetz Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Glenn Fleishler, Leigh Gill

The Hangover director Todd Phillips plays a sick and twisted joke on audience members that expect Joker to be a conventional superhero origin story.

Joker won the Best Film at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival and is absolutely brilliant, diabolically clever and deeply disturbing thanks to an unbelievable onscreen performance by Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a struggling clown and stand-up comedian in a garbage ridden Gotham who transforms with nefarious elegance into Joker, the arch enemy of Bruce Wayne aka Batman.

Joaquin Phoenix has delivered some stunning film performances first in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For and then for his Oscar nominated roles as the vicious Emperor Commodus in Ridley Scott’s Roman epic Gladiator (2000) followed by his performance as musician Johnny Cash in James Mangold’s Walk the Line (2005) and more recently as Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (2012).

Phoenix’s performance in Joker is utterly phenomenal as he physically transforms into Arthur Fleck, whose sinewy body holds a promise of vicious intent as he discovers that his mother Penny who he has to wash and bathe was discarded by the wealthy Thomas Wayne played by Brett Cullen (The Dark Knight Rises).

Arthur is told by an unsympathetic counselor that Gotham is cutting social services which includes his medication while in the mean streets his clown gigs are becoming increasingly hostile. He is attacked by juvenile delinquents for holding up a sign saying Everything Must Go.

Arthur’s desire to be a stand-up comedian is ridiculed on live Television by professional Talk Show host Murray Franklin superbly played by Oscar winner Robert de Niro (Raging Bull, The Godfather Part II).

Amidst the gritty streets of Gotham, Arthur Fleck’s sanity slowly unravels, the ties that bind him to conventional behaviour prove useless as he comes off his meds and psychopathically starts killing entitled bullies on subway trains. An incessant smoker, Arthur watches the deterioration of his mother Penny played by Frances Conroy (The Tale, Shopgirl, Broken Flowers). After being invited onto Murray Franklin’s sarcastic talk show, Arthur paints on the clown make up and delivers a masterful narcissistic monologue, whereby the Joker is born. The results are riveting.

Arthur Fleck violently disregards the advice of his fellow clowns Randall played by Glenn Fleischer (Suburbicon) and Gary played by Leigh Gill (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) in a particularly disturbing scene which is both funny and scary. 

Joaquin Phoenix delivers an Oscar worthy performance as Arthur Fleck who transforms into Joker, a psychotic violent lunatic that thrives on chaos and disenchantment in a crowded Gotham overrun by ruthless men and an uncaring upper class. Not since Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, has there been an equally spine-chilling performance of this perennial and chaotic comic book villain.

Joker gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 is essential viewing, a dark mirror for a 21st century society which accurately reflects just how crazy it is out there. The politics of fear reign supreme.

Fighting the Seven Deadly Sins

Shazam!

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Borth, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, Adam Brody, Cooper Andrews, Grace Fulton, John Glover

D. C. Comics finally made a feel good superhero film without too many dark undertones in director David F. Sandberg’s hilarious and quirky kid turned adult superhero film Shazam! featuring Zachary Levi (Thor: Ragnarok) in the title role as the grown up caped crusader and the younger boy version whose real name is Billy Batson wonderfully played by Asher Angel.

British actor Mark Strong (Kingsman, The Golden Circle, Miss Sloane, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is cast as the evil villain Dr Sivana who unleashes the monstrous Seven Deadly Sins onto an unsuspecting population in Philadelphia and eventually battles Shazam! in a wonderful amusement park showdown. 

Whilst Wonder Woman and Aquaman were real grown up superheroes Shazam is an orphaned kid Billy Batson who inherits superhero powers including super-human strength and the ability to charge cellphones with large voltages of electricity from a mysterious wizard played by an unrecognizable Djimon Hounson Oscar nominated star of In America and Blood Diamond.

Shazam! is not to be taken too seriously but is terrifically entertaining especially when the adult version of the superhero is played with such mirth by Chuck TV star Zachary Levi in one of the dorkiest superhero costumes ever invented. Shazam! is a great family film and will particularly resonate with ten year old boys and teenagers.

Like with Wonder Woman and Aquaman, DC Comics got it right with the light hearted humorous film Shazam! This caped crusader action film is definitely worth seeing and gets a film rating of 7 out 10.

Audiences should look out for cameos by Adam Brody (Lovelace, Mr. and Mrs Smith), Michelle Borth from Hawaii 50 fame and a particularly brilliant performance by Jack Dylan Grazer as the crippled orphan boy with a sharp mouth Freddy Freeman who becomes Billy’s sidekick. 

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
June 2024
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90