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Shazam! Gets a Brand New Trailer

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam, courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.

Shazam! comes to theaters April 5.

Movie Review: Aquaman

Aquaman is a complicated movie. Literally. Its overly complex plot weighs down what otherwise might be an incredibly charming and action-packed film. Like its namesake, it’s also a weird hybrid — not of human and Atlantean, but of what is going to appeal to audiences on both sides of the Pacific. That means spectacular action sequences made for the lowest common denominator between the American heartland and the Chinese mainland. It’s destined to make half a billion dollars — and deservedly so — but more cynical and choosy audiences should maybe gravitate to other films in the crowded holiday-season-cinemascape that includes both Spider-Man and BumblebeeDespite all of that, this is easily the second best film of the DC Extended Universe. That’s not necessarily a compliment.

The film is charming, and we should pause for one moment to sit with that. An Aquaman movie is actually kind of cool. Yes– Aquaman. The charm here lies with stars Jason Momoa and Amber Heard. Momoa is having a lot of fun here, and embraces the film’s camp and hokeyness. He also sells it, helping most audience members swim along with the current. It also doesn’t hurt that in parts of the film he has his shirt off. In an opening scene (shown in the trailers) when he enters a submarine and asks, dripping with ocean water, “Permission to come aboard?” there was an audible gasp and a “Oh, Lordy, yes. Anytime!” in response from the seat behind me. The equal-opportunity-cheesecake here is pretty fun, but does beg a question. . . why does Momoa need to have a shirt on in any of the scenes? (Inquiring minds want to know.)

Heard is the salt and spice to Momoa’s sweetness. Unfortunately relegated to a lot of exposition, having to teach Arthur Curry (and us the audience) about things like Atlantean politics and the overly labyrinthine plot, she has to do more work than anyone else in the cast, but she does it well. And, she does it all while in the most ridiculous outfit and fake-looking wig possible, which is also impressive. Also unfortunately, she and Momoa get set up in the trope of the bickering-will-they-or-won’t-they couple. The romantic payoff in Act III is telegraphed way off, and is also strangely unearned. Despite being weighed down with all of this, Heard actually does a really great job. But so much of her potential is wasted.

But then there’s the villains. Patrick Wilson is serviceable as the angry King Orm / Ocean Master, but there’s not much more to him than he really, really wants that Atlantean throne. It’s Shakespearean, but sorta dumbed down to a lowest common denominator of the big superhero blockbuster.

And then you have Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), whom you could literally erase from the movie and solve a third of its problems. It’s not that the character is bad — he’s actually really cool looking fully decked out with that crazy helmet and shooting lasers from his eyes. It’s just that in a film this complicated, we didn’t need a second villain, and all he does is pad an already overstuffed film.

And can we talk for a second about the scene where he’s building his helmet and Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good” is playing? What is he, me freshman year crying about my girlfriend breaking up with me? The song, even this new remix, is twenty years out of the zeitgeist and sticks out even worse than if Pitbull sampled Toto’s Africa and put it in the movie to signify they were in the Sahara desert. Oh wait. . .

It’s these kind of schlocky choices that make this movie more the equivalent of cotton candy than anything more substantive. But, that’s also what makes it a sort of great popcorn movie.

Most of the other DCEU movies sort of falter in their third acts with a big brawl against the big bad. In this one, we get our final showdown, but it takes place against the backdrop of an epic underwater battle that takes advantage of the sci-fi epic setting where you can do anything underwater. This is Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Avatar, complete with sea monsters, battle seahorses, and giant underwater ships firing lasers. It’s a little bit silly, but it’s a lot of fun.

It’s that sense of fun that is this movie’s saving grace. Yes, it’s overstuffed, overwrought, and overlong. But it’s essentially director James Wan doing what he has done previously in directing Fast and Furious, Saw, or The Conjuring movies. Ridiculous, over-the-top action somehow works as long as you don’t take it too seriously and let your stars chew up all the scenery they can. But this time– it’s under the sea!

Just like previous films this year like The Meg or Skyscraper, there are very clearly some things here designed for the Asian movie-going audience. Luckily, many of those things are the same things demanded by middlebrow American audiences as they shovel popcorn down their gullets by the buttery fistfuls. Hence, lowest common denominator.

That still makes it one of the best films of the DCEU. While it doesn’t hold a candle to Wonder Woman, at least it feels like these characters are able to have some fun and not be so dark and brooding all the time. Let’s hope they continue that sense of fun into next year’s Shazaam! and our DC characters get some of the movies they deserve.

3 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: Aquaman

Aquaman

One of the great joys of reading superhero comics is the eclectic nature of their inspiration. The genre has drawn on everything from pulp fiction to mythology, creating a body of work that is idiosyncratic and often gloriously absurd. Superhero movies, however, have tended to eschew this everything but the kitchen sink approach to present more grounded, realistic visions of the world they are trying to represent.

James Wan’s Aquaman is the first movie I have seen that really felt like reading a comic rather than just watching an adaptation of one. It’s the story of Arthur Curry, the son of an Atlantean queen and a human lighthouse keeper who must claim his birthright to stop his evil half-brother, Orm from becoming Ocean Master and waging a war of vengeance upon the surface world. The plot follows the same sort of meandering structure one would expect of a story being spread across five issues rather than three acts and its influences are pulled from across the cultural landscape including comics, film and mythology.  Wan’s visuals are spectacular presenting us with a lot of old concepts that feel fresh in the new light of his directorial vision. I was never really surprised but I wasn’t bored either. The characters are  archetypal and they fill their roles in the story with a good humor that is missing from more serious movies of this genre while never descending into parody.

Aquaman’s  greatest flaw is that the script itself is weak, relying far too heavily on tired tropes and cliched dialog for its own good. The first forty five minutes are a slog through a morass of set-up and exposition accompanied by some very dodgy CGI that makes several actors look more like cartoons or the victims of an over-enthusiastic plastic surgeon. The performances are mediocre overall though it’s hard to say whether they might have been improved with better material. Jason Momoa and Amber Heard  manage to plow through on shear charisma and almost impossible levels of raw sex appeal but I am forced to admit that Momoa’s range as an actor is limited to playing versions of himself. The comparison has been made to Flash Gordon but Aquamanlacks an actor of Max von Sydow’s talents to lend it weight and one of Brian Blessed’s exuberance to lift it up.  

Aquaman isn’t a great movie. It’s not going to win any Oscars and it may well be largely forgotten a year after its home viewing release. In spite of all its defects however  I enjoyed it more than any other superhero movie I’ve seen this year even if both Black Panther and Infinity War were better made.  Aquaman wears its soul on it’s sleeve and while there are moments where it struggles to stay afloat, it still manages to keep its head above water.

Overall Rating: 8 Recommendation: See

Pitbull Riffs on Toto’s Africa for the Aquaman Soundtrack and It’s… Something

Warner Bros.Aquaman is opening soon here in the U.S. and beyond reviews, the soundtrack is finally being released. One of the songs from it is “Ocean to Ocean” by Pitbull and Rhea and it’s… something. The soundtrack song rifs off of Toto’s “Africa,” which is having a resurgence in popularity of a cover by Weezer.”

“Ocean to Ocean” opens with “Africa’s” chord progression and after Pitbull’s rapping, uses “Africa’s” chorus. But, the movie is about Atlantis, it’s a bit weird to sing about Africa.

You can check out the song below and below that the full soundtrack listing. Let us know what you think of the song in the comments below!

Here’s the full tracklist:

— “Everything I Need (Film Version)” - Skylar Grey
— Arthur
— Kingdom Of Atlantis
— It Wasn’t Meant To Be
— Atlantean Soldiers
— What Does That Even Mean?
— The Legend Of Atlan
— Swimming Lessons
— The Black Manta
— What Could Be Greater Than A King?
— Permission To Come Aboard
— Suited And Booted
— Between Land And Sea
— He Commands The Sea
— Map In A Bottle
— The Ring Of Fire
— Reunited
— “Everything I Need” – Skylar Grey
— “Ocean To Ocean” – Pitbull feat. Rhea
— “Trench Engaged (from Kingdom of The Trench)” – Joseph Bishara

Warner Bros. Has a Plastic Man Movie in the Works

Plastic Man

The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop that Warner Bros. is working on a Plastic Man movie with Amanda Idoko as the screenwriter. Bob Shaye will executive produce.

The character was created by Jack Cole for Quality Comics in 1941 and DC Comics picked him up when the publisher went under.

Plastic Man is Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, a crook who goes good. A chemical liquid splashes him during a botched heist allowing him to shape-shift and stretch his body.

After years out of the spotlight, the character has come back within the past year as a key character in the recent event Dark Knights: Metal and two series. Currently, he’s starring in a comic miniseries written by Gail Simone as well as The Terrifics written by Jeff Lemire.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and we’ve got lots of geeky things we’ve got planned. What are you all doing? Sound off in the comments below! While you wait for the week day to end and weekend to begin, here’s some news from around the web.

The Wrap – Jaime Reyes ‘Blue Beetle’ Latino Superhero Movie in Development at DC and Warner Bros – Good. This is a smart move.

ICv2 – Lion Forge Restructuring – We’ve been hearing rumors.

CBR – Black Lightning Showrunner Faces Domestic Violence, Copyright Lawsuit – …

iO9 – Adorable Into the Spider-Verse Heroes From Build-a-Bear Workshop Have Arrived – Hell yes!!!

Reign Of The Supermen Gets a Trailer

The world must cope with the loss of Superman – and the sudden emergence of four would-be heirs to the title – in the all-new, action-packed “Reign of the Supermen,” part of the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting January 15, 2019, and on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on January 29, 2019.

“Reign of the Supermen” will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack ($39.99 SRP) and Blu-ray Combo Pack ($24.98 SRP) as well as on Digital ($19.99 HD, $14.99 SD). The Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc featuring the film; the Blu-ray Combo Pack features the film in hi-definition. The Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Combo Pack include a digital version of the film.

“Reign of the Supermen” finds Earth’s citizens – and the Man of Steel’s heroic contemporaries – dealing with a world without Superman. But the aftermath of Superman’s death, and the subsequent disappearance of his body, leads to a new mystery – is Superman still alive? The question is further complicated when four new super-powered individuals – Steel, Cyborg Superman, Superboy and the Eradicator – emerge to proclaim themselves as the ultimate hero. In the end, only one will be able to proclaim himself the world’s true Superman.

The “Reign of the Supermen” all-star cast is led by Jerry O’Connell (Carter, Bravo’s Play by Play, Stand by Me), Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, The Librarians) and Rainn Wilson (The Office, The Meg) as the voices of Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, respectively. The potent trio is joined by the DC Universe Movies’ returning voices of the Justice League: Jason O’Mara (The Man in the High Castle, Terra Nova) as Batman, Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Rent, Daredevil) as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds) as Cyborg, Nathan Fillion (Castle, The Rookie) as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs, Insatiable, Ugly Betty) as The Flash, and Nyambi Nyambi (Mike & Molly, The Good Fight) as Martian Manhunter.

Newly featured cast members include Cress Williams (Black Lightning) as Steel, Cameron Monaghan (Gotham) as Superboy, Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul) as Hank Henshaw, and Tony Todd (Candyman) as Darkseid. In addition, the cast includes Charles Halford (Constantine) as Bibbo Bibbowski and The Eradicator, Rocky Carroll (NCIS) as Perry White, Toks Olagundoye (Castle) as Cat Grant, Max Mittleman (Justice League Action) as Jimmy Olsen, Paul Eiding (Ben 10: Omniverse) as Jonathan Kent, Jennifer Hale (Green Lantern: The Animated Series) as Martha Kent, Trevor Devall (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay) as Dabney Donovan and Erica Luttrell (Salvation) as Mercy.

Producer Sam Liu (Gotham by Gaslight, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract) also directs “Reign of the Supermen” from a script by Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Tim Sheridan (Scooby-Doo and the Gourmet Ghost). Amy McKenna (The Death of Superman) is producer, and Alan Burnett (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay) is co-producer. Executive Producers are Sam Register and James Tucker (Justice League Dark).

Disney’s Loss is Warner Bros. Gain as James Gunn Hops on Suicide Squad 2

Warner Bros. apparently doesn’t care about trolls as they’ve opened up their arms to James Gunn who will write and possibly direct the sequel to Suicide Squad.

Gunn was fired by Disney as trolls set their sites on the outspoken director over tasteless jokes he made about rape and pedophilia in the past. Gunn apologized and said he had grown as an individual. Disney caved to pressure firing him, though keeping other problematic individuals on staff both behind the scenes and starring. He had been working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The film will reportedly still use his script.

Suicide Squad revolves around a group of supervillains recruited by the government in a Dirty Dozen type situation. The first film starred Will Smith and Margot Robbie and earned $746.8 million worldwide on a $175 million budget. Gunn’s sense of humor and action shown off in both Guardians of the Galaxy films can easily translate to the property. The property also allows reinvention and recreation with a rotating cast of characters which opens it up even more for Gunn to play with.

This isn’t the first director Warner Bros. has poached from Marvel Studios. Joss Whedon who was behind the first Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. worked on Justice League. Can we hope for a Joe Johnston directed Superman?

Dave Bautista who played Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and has voiced his displeasure over the firing has already said he wants to sign up for what comes next. Can you say the next Bane?

(via The Wrap)

Aquaman Gets an Extended 5 Minute Video

From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be…a king.

Aquaman comes to theaters December 21.

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