Author Archives: Brett

Review: Shazam!

Shazam!

If you watched the advertisements for the latest DC Cinematic Universe film Shazam! (and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not, it absolutely is), you’d think the film was Big but with superheroes. That description might get at some of the basics but in reality it misses out on so much of what makes this film not just work but also stand out as one of the best live action superhero releases of the modern era.

Shazam! follows Billy Batson, a foster kid who’s searching for his birth mother. He’s eventually recruited by the Wizard and given power to turn himself into the adult superhero Shazam but shouting SHAZAM!

What follows over 2 hours of having fun with, fun of, and love to superhero tropes and films.

Played by Asher Angel, Batson is a troublemaker with a heart. He’s on a mission to find his mother and by doing so running away from various foster families and facilities. Enter the Vasquez family headed up by Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (the always amazing and loveable Cooper Andrews). They run a foster home and are the parents you both love and roll your eyes due to their corny jokes. Each kid exudes personality and cuteness. Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman and Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley standing out. Those two get the most screen time out of all of the children with Darla delivering moments where you just want to hug her and others where you want to adopt her yourself. Grazer’s Freddy though is fandom personified guiding Billy through his learning his powers.

From there, the film is jokes about superpowers and some of the sillier aspects of being a superhero. And it does it all with a smile and infectious enthusiasm. Much of that is due to Zachary Levi as Shazam. Levi along with Grazer combine to form a team where it’s hard to not enjoy their journey of discovery. It’s just over the top silly at times and that’s exactly what it should be. Action sequences are broken up with segments using social media to explore Shazam’s powers. Freddy acts as Yoda to Billy’s Luke. This all works due to the amazing comedic chops of Levi and Grazer who nail the delivery of every scene and when things get serious, play it all off as believable kids.

The film is about excitement and the discovery of the hero in us all and it wears that on its sleeve with a giant smile.

That enthusiasm and discovery is juxtaposed with Mark Strong‘s Dr. Thaddeus Sivana who years earlier was rejected from the power of Shazam and has been searching for it ever since. The villain is the weakest part of the film, though Strong’s performance is strong. The film falls into a fight we’ve seen so many times before and is a bit reminiscent of the original Superman films down to the special fx. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was done on purpose as an example of the film’s clear love of superhero films.

What stands out to me for Shazam! is not just how much fun I had watching the film, but how much the audience enjoyed it. I haven’t seen a crowd cheering and applauding since Black Panther and Wonder Woman. There was also sniffling during the more serious and touching moments. The film nails the emotional moments delivering an experience that’s hard to not have fun watching. If you found yourself smiling or laughing at the various television spots, the film takes that humor to the next level. It’s unafraid to take the silliness that extra step and nail the joke.

Shazam! is a film that exceeded my expectations delivering an entertaining film that I immediately wanted to see again. It’s the first live action superhero “family film” since the original Superman. Judging by the audience reactions, from kids to their parents, it was enjoyed by people of all ages and genders and catapulted itself to being one of the best superhero films of the modern era to be released.

Overall Rating: 9.0

Review: Wolverine: Infinity Watch #2

Wolverine: Infinity Watch #2

Wolverine is the best there is at what he does. But how is he at protecting the universe from cosmic disaster? Would you guess better or worse than Loki, the admitted god of lies? We’re about to find out.

I wasn’t much of a fan for the debut issue of Wolverine: Infinity Watch. Wolverine: Infinity Watch #2 is an improvement but it still feels a bit off in its story and execution.

Written by Gerry Duggan, Wolverine and Loki are on a mission and that’s focused on keeping a convict infused with an Infinity Stone alive. It’s a chase comic with police after him as well as a Chitauri warlord (and others who want the stone). There’s fights. There’s some action. But, overall, it’s kind of lacking. Without a clear plan the comic feels rather motionless in a way. It’s almost feels like Wolverine and Loki don’t even know what they’re really doing and maybe that’s part of the point, making it up as they go.

The art by Andy MacDonald with color by Jordie Bellaire and lettering by Cory Petit is again ok but nothing too exciting. The comic feels a bit like a secondary mini-series to an event in the look. It’s serviceable but doesn’t stand out as anything particularly special. The standout as far as art is when Wolverine’s height is used for some comedy. Though at other times Wolverine being short isn’t as apparent. That sort of inconsistency doesn’t help.

The comic is ok and as part of the greater story of the Infinity Stones it will wind up be interesting but on its own, the comic is so deep in continuity plus the execution feels so stretched out without focus, the execution is a bit boring. Lay out the goal, give us an enemy, tell us what might happen, give us something to dread and cheer for. As is, there’s little excitement.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Andy MacDonald
Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 5.5 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Uncanny X-Men #14

Uncanny X-Men #14

Cyclops and Wolverine have drawn together a new team of X-Men from the ashes of “X-Men Disassembled,” and now they turn their eyes to setting their agenda. Cyclops has a list…a list of things the X-Men have to take care of…if it’s the last thing they ever do.

Writer Matthew Rosenberg continues his excellent run on Uncanny X-Men delivering an issue, and series, that blends so much of what has worked in the past and forging something new at the same time.

Uncanny X-Men #14 has the team going on the offensive but also thinking bigger as Cyclops continues to put together his new vision of this new iteration of X-Men. That includes the return of a classic character to cut a deal as well as their focus on dealing with Hope and the Mutant Liberation Front. There’s also some solid action as the team continues their quest to eliminate threats.

But, what surprises me about this comic is how it shows how much Cyclops has changed. He’s a blend between the more optimistic version of himself and the more militaristic version of himself. He wants to take action but also not burn everything down while doing some pretty questionable things. We see more what his X-Men team is doing with prisoners and it’s… different.

The art by Salvador Larroca with color by Guru-eFX and lettering by Joe Caramagna is solid as always. The style just exudes the desperation and balance of hope that the comic is able to juggle. There’s something that just clicks for it all and the X-Men haven’t looked this good in quite some time.

The team has been killing it with recent issues and this is an example of that. The X-Men are back to desperation and feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle, like they should. They’re no longer over powered to the point they have a mutant for every solution and now have a vision as to where they should be going with clear goals and something of a plan. This is the beginning of something that feels great and after a long time with some detours, the X-Men are back to greatness.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Salvador Larroca
Color: Guru-eFX Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Criminal #3

Criminal #3

Jacob’s weekend taking care of his old mentor takes a turn for the worse.

I hate throwing the word “perfection” around a lot but Criminal #3 is damn near perfection. Writer Ed Brubaker, artist Sean Phillips, and colorist Jacob Phillips have put together an issue that’s pulp crime but also beyond touching. This isn’t your typical story about a robbery, it’s about an industry that’ll abuse you, spit you out, and bring out the worst.

The second part of “The Longest Weekend,” the story follows Jacob and his former boss Hal Crane, two comic industry vets and different points in their careers. This issue, like the last, feels like a blend of fact and fiction as it continues to explore the dark side of the comic business. In some ways exaggerated, in other ways not, it winds up being a tragic story with an ending that’ll get you to gasp in a way. It’s tragic. It’s sad. It’s entertaining. It’s one of the best comics out this week.

The art, as usual, is amazing. The style is perfect for this type of story and this trio of creators create a blend of story and art that is unparalleled in this industry. Each character tells a story on their own with something as simple as their body language and stance. The use of color is key here too as it not only clues us in to the past or present but also helps set the mood even more so than the dialogue at times.

The issue is amazing blending fact and fiction to deliver a comic that entertains but will also leave you pondering the truth of it all. Criminal is three issues in and one of the best comics on the market (again). It’s not too late to dive in as this is a comic that should be on everyone’s pull list.

Story: Ed Brubaker Art: Sean Phillips Color: Jacob Phillips
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Jesusfreak

Jesusfreak

The year is 26 C.E. A young Nazarean carpenter is having some trouble adjusting to the violent world around him-and finding his place within it. He knows he’s different, but he doesn’t know why. Not yet, anyway.

Take some kung-fu, mix in a little 70s exploitation films, stir some of the Bible, and you get Jesusfreak, a gonzo take on Jesus Christ.

The comic is a mix of over the top insanity and sort of “grounded” Biblical tale that mixes into a comic that feels like it’s not quite sure what it wants to be.

Writer Joe Casey and artist Benjamin Marra go back and forth between a story that’s a spin on the Biblical story we know and something else. That something else is a kung-fu infused action/adventure featuring giant lizard people and a style that’s a bit 70s exploitation. It never quite commits one way or another and without doing so never quite gels in a way that makes sense. Aspects seem to come out of nowhere and never quite explained like there’s pages missing to the story.

Marra’s art, with color by Brad Simpson and lettering by Rus Wooton is good. The art style really helps deliver that retro feel to it all. There’s some odd art here and there (one panel has Jesus’ finger looking like they’re broken as he performs kung-fu) but there’s a charm to it all that makes it entertaining. One also can’t overlook the fact that Jesus isn’t white and those depicted are of a darker complexion as they should be.

There’s a lot of potential here but the comic never quite commits as to what it wants to be. It’s entertaining in a pulp/grindhouse sort of way but at times it feels like it wants to be serious and other times it wants to be something like a John Carpenter film. With a bit more focus, the story would be amazing and a lot of fun. As is, it feels like it’s unsure as to what it wants to be much like the Jesus it depicts.

Story: Joe Casey Art: Benjamin Marra
Color: Brad Simpson Letterer: Rus Wooton Design: Sonia Harris
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Kevin Tsujihara Out as Warner Bros. CEO after Sex Scandal

Kevin Tsujihara

Kevin Tsujihara has resigned as the chairman-CEO of Warner Bros. An investigation had been launched into his relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk and allegations he used his position to help her find work at the studio. The investigation is still continuing.

Tsujihara was the head of the studio since 2013. He has been with the company since 1994.

Below is the statement from Tsujihara and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey.

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past week and a half, I have been reflecting on how the attention on my past actions might impact the company’s future. After lengthy introspection, and discussions with John Stankey over the past week, we have decided that it is in Warner Bros.’ best interest that I step down as Chairman and CEO.

I love this company and the people that make it so great. I’ve been honored to head this organization and work alongside all of its talented employees over the past 25 years. Together we’ve built this studio into an unequivocal leader in the industry.

However, it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success. The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.

I am overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from colleagues and industry partners during this difficult time.

Again, I am so proud of the great work that you do every day to make Warner Bros. the gold standard in our industry. It has been a pleasure to work alongside each and every one of you, and I wish you all the absolute best.

Sincerely,

Kevin

To: WarnerMedia colleagues

From: John Stankey

I want to let you know that following discussions over the past week, Kevin Tsujihara will step down from his role as Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. It was a decision made with the best, long-term interests of the Company, our employees and our partners in mind.

Kevin has acknowledged that his mistakes are inconsistent with the Company’s leadership expectations and could impact the Company’s ability to execute going forward. During his 25 year tenure, Kevin contributed greatly to the growth and success of the studio, and for that we thank him. I would like to personally thank him for the support he provided me following the close of our merger.

You have my commitment to work diligently and quickly to minimize any disruption in the day-to-day operations of the studio as a result of this leadership transition. I will share an interim leadership structure with all of you tomorrow.

I also want to thank all of our employees, particularly the teams at Warner Bros., for your patience and honesty, and we will continue to lean on your collective resiliency, dedication and professionalism as we chart a new path for our company together.

Captain Marvel Continues to Dominate as 2018’s Comic Adaptations Wind Down

Comic film adaptations are big dollars and we track how they do each week to see trends and what’s working and what’s not.

2018 is a record setting year for comic film adaptations. It has topped 2017’s record year and then some. Currently, comic adaptations have earned $2.695 billion domestically, $4.552 billion internationally, $7.247 billion worldwide, with a “profit” of $6.035 billion. That’s off of 10 films. 2017, with 16 films, saw domestic earnings of $2.365 billion, international earnings of $3.755 billion, worldwide earnings of $6.120 billion, and “profits” of $4.442 billion.


Captain Marvel was once again in first place at the weekend box office with an estimated $69.3 million a 54.8% drop, better than the 56% average drop for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That brings the film to $266.2 million domestically. It also makes the first film to cross the $200 million mark domestically this year.

Internationally, the film opened in its final market and brought in $119.7 million from 54 markets. The overseas total now stands at $494 million for a worldwide total of $760.2 million. It’s the first film to cross $700 million worldwide this year.

Alita: Battle Angel slipped to #9 over the past weekend bringing in $1.9 million to bring its domestic total to $81.8 million. Internationally the film brought in about $8 million over the week to bring that total to $312.2 million and $394 million worldwide.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly is still bringing in the dollars though not charting on the weekend box office. It brought in about $1,000 from international markets. The film has earned $30.7 million domestically and $72.8 million internationally for a worldwide total of $103.6 million.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse dipped to #21 with an estimated earning of $305,000 to bring its domestic total to $189.5 million. It also brought in about $700,000 from the foreign box office to bring that total to $178.7 million and $368.2 million worldwide.

Aquaman continues to bring in the dollars though it didn’t chart over the weekend. Over the week, the film earned about $300,000 domestically to bring its domestic total to $334.1 million. It brought in about $500,000 internationally with $809.6 million for a worldwide total of $1.144 billion.


Here’s where this year’s comic films stand as far as the actual numbers.

Total Domestic Gross: $2.695 billion
Total International Gross: $4.552 billion
Worldwide Gross: $7.247 billion
Total Reported Budgets: $1.187 billion
Total “Profit”: $6.035 billion

Average Domestic Gross: $269.5 million
Average International Gross: $455.2 million
Average: Worldwide Gross: $724.7 million
Average Budget: $131.9 million
Average Profit: $670.6 million

Below is where the films released stand when it comes to being compared to this year’s averages. Those in green are above average while those below are red.

Captain Marvel Repeats in First as it Becomes the First Film to Cross $200 million Domestically and First to Cross $700 Worldwide

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel was once again in first place at the weekend box office with an estimated $69.3 million a 54.8% drop, better than the 56% average drop for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That brings the film to $266.2 million domestically. It also makes the first film to cross the $200 million mark domestically this year.

Internationally, the film opened in its final market and brought in $119.7 million from 54 markets. The overseas total now stands at $494 million for a worldwide total of $760.2 million. It’s the first film to cross $700 million worldwide this year.

In second place was Wonder Park which beat expectations with an estimated $16 million. It received a “B+” CinemaScore with a crowd that was 59% female and 62% families.

Internationally the film opened in 19 markets and earned an estimated $4.3 million for a $20.3 million worldwide total.

In third place was Five Feet Apart which also beat expectations and earned $13.1 million. It earned an “A” CinemaScore. That audience was 82% female with 65% of the audience under the age of 25. 45% of the audience was under the age of 18 and they gave the film an “A+” CinemaScore.

In fourth place was How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World which earned an estimated $9.3 million to bring its domestic total to $135.6 million. The film also earned an estimated $9.4 million internationally to bring that total to $330.9 million for a worldwide total of $466.5 million.

Rounding up the top five was Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral which earned an estimated $8 million to bring its domestic total to $59.1 million.

In other comic films…

Alita: Battle Angel slipped to #9 over the past weekend bringing in $1.9 million to bring its domestic total to $81.8 million.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse dipped to #21 with an estimated earning of $305,000 to bring its domestic total to $189.5 million.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year and last year’s comic adaptations.

James Gunn to Direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3 After Suicide Squad 2

James Gunn
James Gunn speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. credit: Gage Skidmore

Marvel Studios and Disney have done a reversal and re-hired James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3.

Gunn was fired in July 2018 after controversial tweets were unearthed by alt-rightwing trolls who then flooded Disney with complaints. Gunn is a vocal critic of Trump and the “attack” was believed to be payback for that.

According to Deadline, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn met with Gunn multiple times to discuss the situation and Gunn took immediate responsibility for his Tweets. It was Horn who decided to reverse the decision.

During his firing, Gunn has signed up to write and direct Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will begin production after that film.

Also according to Deadline, Marvel Studios never met with or considered any other director. Many spoke publicly how they wouldn’t take the job if offered and the cast has spoken out in support of Gunn.

Gunn shared the below Tweet in response:

A script was written for the film before Gunn’s firing and statements were made by Marvel Studios they would have still used that script.

With the first two films grossing over $1.6 billion it’s not too surprising that Disney changed their mind, in the end money rules all.

It’s also another blow to the rightwing Incel/MRA community who also failed to slow the progress of Captain Marvel which had a record setting opening and is likely to cross $1 billion worldwide.

Review: X-Force #4

X-Force #4

Ahab has returned to exterminate X-Force! What twisted scheme is Ahab conducting that has attracted the attention of X-Force? The team has begun to put the pieces together, but will they figure it out in time to stop mass genocide?

The first story arc has wound down but the heat has turned up high in X-Force #4. Writer Ed Brisson delivers an action packed issue that’s full of ups and downs for the team and an ending that’ll have folks buzzing.

What Brisson does that’s excellent is keep up reveals throughout the issue as we learn what Kid Cable is up to but that hints at something else creating a greater mystery. And, he does it with the action and humor we’ve come to expect from the previous three issues. There’s also over the top moments that just ups the fun of it all.

That over the top fun is helped by artist Dylan Burnett who with Jesus Aburtov‘s color and Cory Petit‘s lettering provides a style that’s perfect for Brisson’s narrative. There’s an aspect to the story that’s hyperbolic in a way and is an example of bigger being better. The upgrades some characters get is just fun in a silly way that only comics can deliver and the moments and beats delivered by Brisson are nailed through the art.

The issue is the end of the first arc but what it sets up will reverberate for some time. The end will get folks talking and has me so excited to see what comes next and what the team have up their sleeve. X-Force has always been about over the top action and this series delivers that and then some.

Story: Ed Brisson Art: Dylan Burnett
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 7.95 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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