Shazam!

Shazam

Directed By: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Meagan Goode, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

When 14 year old foster kid Billy Batson defends one of his foster siblings from bullies, he finds himself transported into a cavern, where a dying wizard bestows a gift upon him that gives him the appearance of 30-something superhero. Pursued by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, a rejected candidate for the powers Billy now possesses, Billy enlists the help of his foster brother, Freddy, to figure out not only what his abilities are, but also how to use them. After Sivana, aided by physical manifestations of the Seven Deadly Sins, figures out Billy’s identity and threatens his new family, Billy bands together with his siblings to stop Sivana and keep their family safe.

Another one of DC’s side properties that they made in an attempt to diversify their Extended Universe (DCEU), Shazam is well-made and entertaining. Lighter in tone than most of DC’s other current films, it’s another step in the right direction to create a diversified universe, much like the one Marvel offers. The actors all work well together, and Levi, who plays Billy’s superhero persona, has the right personality to play a teen that looks like an adult. Strong, who plays Sivana, lets his natural accent slip through occasionally, but for the most part he seems to be able to keep control of it.

The special effects are all very well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of the movies based on DC comics, and maybe most fans of comic book movies in general, should enjoy this. It’s fun and light-hearted, and while it doesn’t necessarily add to the Justice League spectrum, it’s still a good movie to watch, and it’s fun enough that it shouldn’t grate on rewatching. There are just enough references to past DC movies to remind you that they’re set in the same universe.

Shazam! isn’t currently available free to stream at the moment, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Aquaman

Aquaman

Directed By: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Randall Park, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B

Born to a human man and the Queen of Atlantis, Arthur Curry has grown up always knowing he was of two vastly different worlds. In the aftermath of joining the Justice League and assisting them, Arthur has been helping fight crimes in the oceans and seas, earning himself the name of Aquaman. However, after a woman named Mera arrives and tells Arthur that his younger half-brother, Orm, is planning on taking control of the divided factions of Atlanteans and waging a war on the surface world, Arthur begrudgingly accepts that the time has come for him to take his place among the Atlanteans and try to protect the surface world he loves.

One of DC’s attempts to build an integrated world in the same vein as the MCU, Aquaman is surprisingly not terrible. While it’s not perfect, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the DCEU. The storyline is decent, and makes for a good introduction to the character, which was glossed over in his ‘Justice League’ debut, though there is an unnecessary subplot involving a character some have guessed to be the planned villain for the eventual sequel. While I’m not a huge fan of Amber Heard, she seems to do a decent job here and she has chemistry with Jason Momoa. Nicole Kidman does a good job with her small role as Arthur’s mother, Queen Atlanna, which is her first comic book role.

The special effects aren’t the best I’ve ever seen, but they’re not the worst either, and the background filler is not noticeable.

Despite the somewhat unnecessary subplot, this movie is still enjoyable. The biggest problem is that this movie came after ‘Justice League,’ which was DC’s attempt to catch up with the MCU in terms of a centralized, integrated universe, which, honestly, someone could fill a book about. Still, as more of the individual movies are made, DC gains a bit more traction back. Since it doesn’t rely heavily on previous installments, it can be watched without having seen the other ‘Justice League’-verse movies.

Aquaman is not available free to stream anywhere at the moment unless you have HBO, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.