Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Shazam movie character breakdowns

Character breakdowns from the Shazam! movie have surfaced.

THADDEUS BODOG SIVANA – “Evil sorcerer who regenerates from death with world domination on his mind.” Supporting Lead Male

BEAUTIA SIVANA – “Sivana’s devoted daughter. When he does not return her love, she changes loyalties and helps Billy out.” Supporting Lead Female

MAGNIFICUS SIVANA – “Sivana’s incredibly giant and strong son that has a huge battle with Shazam.” Supporting Lead Male

SHAZAM – “Elderly wizard who is forced to give his powers to a young boy before the boy is ready.” Supporting Lead Male

MYSTERIOUS MAN – “Shazam’s underling.” Cameo Male 

It is interesting to see Sivana will be a sorcerer and not a mad scientist.  But I am happy to see Beautia is confirmed to be in the film, and seems to be very faithful to the Fawcett original. It is also interesting to see Shazam is "forced" to give his powers to Billy "before he is ready".  It seems there will be generous liberties taken with the characters.  Many are jumping to the conclusion the "mysterious man" may be Black Adam, but to those of us who are long time Captain Marvel fans, it seems obvious the character is the stranger who summons Billy to board the mystery train that takes him to the Rock of Eternity.  Since filming begins in just a couple weeks, all these roles are most likely cast, although are being kept under wraps. A photo reveals Zachary Levi and Asher Angel at a table reading of the script in Canada where filming will occur.

UPDATE: David F. Sandberg debunked the character breakdowns, adding "Sivana is definitely not a reanimated sorcerer".

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dr. Sivana is cast!

After months of rumors, Mark Strong, through an interview in London confirmed he is playing Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana in Shazam! "I'm playing an evil bastard called Doctor Sivana, they are always the best characters to play, the most fun."  He went on to affirm the film's concept as a superhero version of Big, "It's a funny film, it's about a young boy who can become a superhero but still remains a young boy so there's elements of 'Big' there's elements of 'Stranger Things'. I think originally the comic outsold 'Superman' in the 1940s."  He also spilled a major spoiler about his character, "I've been training like a mad man, I'm about to go over and see the stunt guys, I've been trying all of these harnesses on and I think I'm going to be doing lots of flying around and firing electricity out of my hands."  After the article hit the internet, director David F. Sandberg tweeted "I guess it’s official now then".

Speaking of spoilers, a few days ago, Zachary Levi may have also tipped his hand that Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman may have a cameo in the movie, gushing about the Amazon Princess, “I think getting a cameo from anybody would be super cool, but I just think Gal Gadot is so effervescent. She has such a charm. And she seems like a really cool broad. Like, she was in the Israeli army. She's a mom. And I'm like, 'You seem like you're grounded and cool, and you're Wonder Woman, and you rock,' and I think it would be really funny to have the 14-year-old Billy Batson inside of Shazam that's really awkward around this beautiful Amazonian. I just think that would be really awesome.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: The Archies #4

Issue number 4 of The Archies features The Monkees.   Written by Alex Segra and Matthew Rosenberg, the plot deals with Archie who, during a gig with his band, gets knocked out and dreams about an adventure with The Monkees.  Davy is kidnapped and The Archies tag along with Mike, Micky and Peter to rescue him. Being a dream, the typical surreal, meta humor of The Monkees TV series fits into the narrative, laced with Monkees trivia and call backs. This includes the Monkeemobile, the Monkee's pad, the Monkees using their "Monkeemen" superhero guise, as well as the Archies donning their 1960s superhero costumes.  Also a character named Tony Tunes alludes to Don Kirshner. I don't know if it was intentional or coincidence, but as Davy is kidnapped in the story, much of the action focuses on Mike, Micky and Peter.  In real life, Davy passed away in 2012.  Joe Eisma is the artist of this issue, and does something clever.  The bookends are drawn in the current realistic Archie style, but the dream sequence reverts to the classic Archie style. My only critique of the art would be that Eisma didn't really capture the Monkees' likenesses in the interior art. They all seem to have the same generic face and the only way to tell them apart is by their hair. His cover art gets the likenesses better, as do the variant covers by Greg Smallwood, Mike Allred, and Tyler Boss. Overall, this is a very enjoyable issue and earns an A-.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mary is cast!

Rumored for several weeks, it is now official Grace Fulton has been cast as Mary in the Shazam! movie.  Since signs point to the movie being an adaption of the unpopular and divisive Curse of Shazam new52 reboot, Mary is one of the foster kids in the home Billy goes to.  She is older than Billy, and to date in the continuity, nothing is established that Billy and Mary are blood related.  In the classic version, Billy and Mary are twins who were separated at birth, and reunited after Billy gains the power to transform into Captain Marvel.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More Shazam casting

Two more roles in the Shazam movie have been cast, both New52 characters.  It seems like we are beyond the point of no return.  This will not be a Captain Marvel movie, this will be a Curse of Shazam movie.  Considering my review of the divisive reboot, this will not be the Captain Marvel movie I want, but I am remaining somewhat optimistic it will at least be a good and entertaining movie despite the Curse source material. Hopefully there will still be a lot of Fawcett comics and Alex Ross inspiration in the final product.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Freddy Freeman is cast!

One of the young stars of the big screen remake of Steven King's It, Jack Dylan Grazer has won the role of Freddy Freeman in the Captain Marvel movie. Something of a good sign is that Grazer has dark hair, like the classic version of Freddy, opposed to the blonde New 52 Freddy.
However, with the alleged castings of Mark Strong as Sivana, and the 21 year old Grace Fulton as Mary, I am slightly pessimistic this movie will be Curse of Shazam: The Movie. Hopefully we will soon get more casting announcements and a confirmation as to whether Captain Marvel will be the basis of the movie, or New52 Shazam.

UPDATE: David F. Sandberg posted a pick of the casting process.  Of note is neither Mark Strong nor Grace Fulton are in the photo, confirming neither one has signed on.

A post shared by David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) on

Friday, November 17, 2017

movie review: JUSTICE LEAGUE

With the fate of the DC Cinematic Universe riding on it, Justice League is successful at being a better and more coherent movie than Batman v Superman, but still falls short of what one would expect to be the epic big screen debut of the All Star team of the World's Greatest Superheroes.  Of course, the problem is that Justice League has been dealt a handicap in that it continues the misfired shared universe sculpted by Zach Snyder, when really Warner Brothers should have abandoned that continuity as fast as they did the original Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin disaster.  Instead they decided to forge ahead, albeit bringing in The Avengers director Joss Whedon to take over helming the film in mid-production.  Whedon works a minor miracle by salvaging what could have been another 3 hour Snyder Gloomapalooza.

The film opens with a kid's (Billy Batson?) phone video of Superman. You can clearly see the bad CGI cover up to Henry Cavill's mustache, as his mouth looks like it had a bad reaction to a Novocain injection.  CGI appears to be DC's weak link, as Wonder Woman also suffered from bad, primitive looking CGI.  It doesn't get any better here, as Steppenwolf looks more like a video game image than an actual character, and there are too many moments where the film seems to cease being a live action movie, and turns into The Polar Express.  Even Superman and Batman's flowing capes look fake.

After a pair of really good opening action sequences, one featuring Batman and the other Wonder Woman, the film suddenly grinds to a halt as it drags down for the next 20 minutes or so focusing on introducing Cyborg and The Flash. Things pick up as the plot kicks in - a simple one of Steppenwolf wanting to destroy earth, and Bruce and Diana, reminiscent of The Blues Brothers,  trying to "put the band back together" (I expected Diana to utter "we're on a mission from God"), to stop him. But even after that, the movie has a few dragging moments.  You would think with cutting a movie from 3 hours to 2 hours with much of it re-filmed by a different director, they could have kept the pace up better, but it's not to be. It is also of note that if all the slo-mo scenes in the film were at normal speed, the movie would probably clock in at an hour and 40 minutes.

Ben Affleck returns as Bruce Wayne and Batman.  He's not the serial killer he was in Batman v Superman, moving to more traditional take, and Affleck gives a decent performance, although in a couple scenes, he has this look on his face like he's thinking "I'm only doing this for some gambling money".  He's not the best screen Batman, but he's not the worst either.  A big missed opportunity is in the scene where Barry Allen asks Bruce what his super power is, and Bruce replies "I'm rich." That was fine for the trailer, but Whedon should have re-shot it for the film. A much better line would have been if he replied in a Keaton-esque growl "I'm Batman".  Jeremy Irons returns as Alfred, and matches the great performance he gave in BvS. J.K. Simmons is introduced as Commissioner Gordon, but I thought he struck out with the character, small as the role was.  He looked and acted like J. Jonah Jameson with a walrus mustache.

Gal Gadot, so far the MVP of the DCEU, also turns in a fine performance as Diana Prince, although I found her acting slightly more wooden here than in Wonder Woman. I also noticed that she kept giving this pouty smirk that kept reminding me of a Kewpie Doll, and there were a lot of up skirt shots of her - not that I'm complaining.  The chemistry between Bruce and Diana was a high point of the movie.

Ezra Miller was introduced as Barry Allen and The Flash, in a costume that looks more Power Rangers than silver age comic book, and played the role like he was buzzed on some kind of amphetamine.  He had a couple funny lines, but for the most part I found him to be annoying, and by the middle of the movie, I was missing Grant Gustin's version a lot.

Ray Fisher plays Cyborg, and while I thought the early part of the movie devoted to his backstory dragged the film down, in the second half of the movie, he was instrumental to the plot.

Jason Momoa plays Aquaman in a performance that was part surfer-biker dude and part Batman The Brave and The Bold animated series-- though he stopped short of yelling "outrageous".

Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane in a small role.  There was no direct call back to the scene in BvS where the Flash travels back in time to tell Bruce she's the key.  Bruce just kind of knows she's the "big gun" to -SPOILER ALERT- bring the revived Superman back to his senses.  Henry Cavill, to his credit, after two other movies as Superman, finally shows some personality and charisma in the role.  This was Cavill's best performance as Superman. 

I also have to mention the musical score by Danny Elfman.  It is the best score in any of the DCEU films (and better than the scores in the Nolan Batman films), and it helps elevate the film.  Hearing refrains of his classic Batman theme and the classic John Williams Superman theme really drives this movie to be better than perhaps it really is. It would have been cool if Elfman worked in a reprise of the original Super Friends theme, but alas he did not.

There are -SPOILER ALERT- two post credit scenes, the second one at the very end of the credits brings back Superman's arch enemy and introduces a certain terminator.

Justice League is a fun movie that is enjoyable when it isn't being dragged down by slow moments or being distracted by inferior CGI. Like Affleck's Batman, its not the best, but its not the worst either.