Sunday, December 27, 2020

review: WONDER WOMAN 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is campy, corny, cheesy, and bloated, a major down grade from the 2017 film.  The script is weak, on the level of a CW network TV show. The acting doesn't fare much better. Some characters, like Diana Prince, Steve Trevor and most of the minor characters, are wooden and under-acted, while characters like Maxwell Lord and Barbara Minerva are over-acted. The CGI at times looks cartoonish, and Kristin Wiig's fully realized Cheetah is Cats laughable. About 30 to 35 minutes could have been (should have been) cut out, as the movie has too many slow paced moments that quicker editing could have helped eliminate.   Something else dragging this movie down is that it is set in 1984 for no apparent reason other than to showcase the '80s styles and trends in a fit of cheesy campiness. In the third act, the tone suddenly and abruptly switches to over-baked ham-fisted melodrama. 

It is the cinematography that elevates this movie slightly above a CW level of quality. There are some individual bits that are great, such as the creation of the invisible jet, and Wonder Woman swinging from lightning bolt to lightning bolt, but other things are real head scratchers, such as Wonder Woman dressing like Hawkgirl in the climax, or that Maxwell Lord as the main villain is essentially Impractical Joker's Joe Gatto from the genie punishment. 

The chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, which really drove the first movie, is still there, but it's not enough to salvage this sequel.  For anyone who has seen the abysmal William Dozier Wonder Woman test reel from 1967, you will notice that a main aspect of it has been tweaked for the Steve Trevor character in this movie.  All in all, it is easy to see why Warners did not release this movie on its original date pre-pandemic, and once the pandemic started, decided not to ride it out for a Summer 2021 date, and rather dumped it on the HBO Max streaming service. Apparently Warners has already put Wonder Woman 3 on a fast track despite the mixed reviews for this movie. But these days, things change fast, so we'll see in time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Review: Shazam! #15

The mercifully final issue sends this series out not with a bang but with a pathetic whimper.  The first part of the issue showcases what an idiot new52 Shazam is.  Then the plot switches to a substitute teacher in Billy and Freddy's class where she gives them (and us readers) a ham-fisted lecture (did Greg Berlanti have anything to do with this issue?).  Then new52 Shazam ponders what she said, and later rescues her from her burning building.  They then go on, what seems like a very awkward and potentially inappropriate "date", and the story ends with Billy back at class, getting in hot water again.  The best part of this issue was Brandon Peterson's artwork, which is still kind of generic, while Jeff Loveness' script read like a bad sit-com. The final issue earns a D-, and it's good riddance to this series, and hopefully good riddance to new52 Shazam.

If only DC would launch a title, World's Mightiest Mortal, which would be an on-going series of the original Captain Marvel, in a style and tone similar to the Thunderworld one-shot.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Review: Shazam! #14

This issue starts with a needless recap of Curse of Shazam, which then goes into recap of the current story so far.  Can you say "filler"?  We get to the present, the big fight continued from last issue.  Superboy Prime shows up. Then we cut to Daddy Shazam's head, where Captain Shazam and Mr. Mind are battling it out. Inter-cut between this and the Shazam Family fighting the Monster Society, with lots and lots of dialogue in between punches. Then it finally dawns on Capt Shazam that Mr Mind is a worm who needs an amplifier to talk.  He crushes the speaker and Mr Mind's ability to cast spells is wiped away.  Normal size again, he is about to cast a spell to stop the worlds from merging and to send the Monster Society back to where they came from, when Superboy Prime attacks (and refers to Mary and Junior by their rightful Marvel names).  Suddenly Black Adam shows up to team up with Capt Shazam to vanquish Prime. Billy shares his power with Black Adam to prevent him from dying after they use their combined lightning bolts to knock Prime out. Captain Shazam casts the spell, and everything returns to normal.  CC Batson, now free from Mr Mind's control, awakes, but has no memory of anything that has happened, leaving Billy somewhat heart broken. There is a kind of sit-com style happy ending where most remaining loose ends are tied up with some narration and Black Adam becomes the missing seventh champion.  Well, thankfully, this story is finally over... at least until the gets regurgitated as a musical by the sequel Shazam Fury of the Gods... if that movie does get made (I say it's a 50-50 chance it will get cancelled due to COVID-19).  As for this issue, it earns a lackluster C-.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Review: Shazam! #13

With this issue, we are back to our regularly scheduled (?) arc, after last issue's fill-in. It begins with the Family looking over Black Adam's unconscious body, as Daddy Shazam, who is under the control of Mr. Mind, leads the Monster Society to take over the Magiclands. Capt. Shazam starts fighting Daddy Shazam, ordering Mr. Mind to leave his body, while the rest of the Family take on the Monster Society.  Capt. Shazam tries to reason with Daddy Shazam, but Mr. Mind tells him how he took control of C.C. Batson's body, revealing that C.C. has never given Billy a second thought in his life. Mr Mind then gives his demands: he wants to be the most most powerful magical being in all the realms.  Capt. Shazam unsuccessfully tries to take the power away from Daddy Shazam.  Mr. Tawny attempts to capture Sivana, but Daddy Shazam turns him into a kitten.  With the foster parents in Daddy Shazam's grip, Sivana conjures up the Book of Champions, and Daddy Shazam/Mr. Mind orders Capt. Shazam to read one of the spells, or else the foster parents will die.  Capt. Shazam does and the realms are merged together into a single earth.  Capt. Shazam then reads a spell that shrinks him, and he enters Daddy Shazam's ear to fight Mr. Mind one-on-one. To be continued.

Geoff Johns' script is basic.  One long fight scene with lots of introspective monologues between punches. Dale Eaglesham handles the art solo, and it's a bit better than his previous efforts. This issue earns a C+.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Benjamin Keough, R.I.P

The Presley family has confirmed that Elvis' grandson, Benjamin Keough, died on July 12, 2020 at the age of 27.  Long time readers of this blog may know in the early years of the Shazam movie development, Ben was my pick to play Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr.

Condolences to the Presley family.

Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord,
Let perpetual light shine upon him,
May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Michael Keaton's Batman Returns for Real

It sounds too amazing to be true, but apparently reports are that Michael Keaton will return as The Batman in the DC movie multiverse. The role will be in the upcoming Ezra Miller movie The Flash which will incorporate a variation on the "Flashpoint" story line that has historical and multi-universe consequences that will result in Keaton's Batman becoming the official version of the DCEU, displacing Ben Affleck.  Reports are Keaton will not be taking over the Snyder/Affleck Batman, but will be playing his own Batman from the 1989 movie and it's 1992 sequel, just 30 years later.

The two Joel Schumacher movies will not be part of the continuity.  Mr Schumacher died on June 22, 2020 at age 80 from cancer, R.I.P. 

Further more, Keaton's deal will have his Bruce Wayne/Batman appear in several DCEU movies, similar to how Nick Fury appears in most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. His second role could very well be in the proposed Batgirl movie which could be a re-imagined live action Batman Beyond but with Barbara Gordon in place of Terry McGuinnis.  I'm also speculating this version of Barbara will be Jim Gordon's grand daughter or great-grand daughter (depending on what age they want her) since Pat Hingle, who played Commissioner Gordon in the Keaton movies, passed away in 2009. 

This also brings up the upcoming Matt Reeves Batman movie starring Robert Pattinson.  Signs point to that being an out-of-continuity Black Label one-off like Todd Phillips-Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, albeit with the potential for two sequelsBut it is Michael Keaton who will be the "real" Batman of the DCEU.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Review: Shazam! #12

Issue 12 turns out to be a fill-in issue set in between the events of Curse of Shazam and the current story arc. You know there is a problem when, even with multiple issue postponements, and a pandemic that halts publication for two months, there still needs to be a fill in issue by a different creative team. Jeff Loveness is brought in to bail out Geoff Johns, and he writes a script that is wholly influenced by the David Sandberg movie. The characters, the tone, the dialogue, and the presentation of the story are all beat for beat based on the movie rather than Johns' work.  Plus they bring in Batman as a guest star just to insure the sales improve.

The issue opens with Billy and "Freddie" (that's how they misspell it) encountering Herkimer. Billy changes to Captain Shazam and quickly defeats him. During this whole sequence, Billy/Capt Shazam and Freddy bicker about Billy having "lame villains" as the dialogue is in full Asher Angel-Zack Levi-Jack Dylan Grazer mode. Concerned that Billy needs to up his game as a superhero, he goes to Gotham City in a meta-moment looking for a team up. He encounters the Scarecrow, and there is a lot of CW-like exposition dialogue.  Scarecrow zaps Capt Shazam with the fear gas, but it's Batman to the rescue. He attempts to talk Capt Shazam down from his inner fright, but Scarecrow injects Batman with fear serum. We go inside Billy's mind as there is a merging of memories as he witnesses young Bruce Wayne's life-changing moment. At that point both he and Batman are able to take down Scarecrow.  Batman and Billy then have a roof top heart to heart talk, and we have another meta-moment about team ups as the issue ends.

The artwork for this issue is supplied by Brandon Peterson, and it is a step above the usual artwork seen in this series.  I know there are a few fans out there who hate the new52 Shazam, but enjoyed and liked the movie. This issue is for that demographic. It earns a B.