The Boys

TheBoys

Starring: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jesse T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Karen Fukuhara, Elisabeth Shue, et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Network: Amazon
Grade: A

When Hughie Campbell’s girlfriend is accidentally killed by the superhero A-Train right in front of him, all he really wants is to know why. Shortly thereafter, Hughie meets Billy Butcher, a cynical former cop who wants to enlist Hughie in his crusade to take down the superhero team known as the Seven, who also happen to be the most famous group of supers in the world, and Vought, the company that finances them. Agreeing to help, Hughie soon finds himself caught up in Billy’s vengeance-fueled quest as they uncover web of corruption, lies, and the disheartening reality that the world’s favorite heroes are nowhere near as righteous as they make themselves out to be.

This bleak, hyper-violent, and darkly funny take on the superhero genre takes most of its cues from Zak Snyder’s Watchmen, in which the heroes are more violent and dangerous than the people they claim to be protecting the public from. It also adds in the concept of corporatizing and franchising heroes into a for-profit business. Most of the heroes are portrayed as jaded, selfish, and slightly amoral. For the most part, the Seven are a take on DC’s Justice League, with many of the members having abilities that mirror those heroes. The actors all do well in their roles, and they all have decent chemistry.

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

As stated before, this show is incredibly violent, so anyone not liking that kind of thing probably won’t want to watch this, but anyone else who also likes comic book adaptations and superheroes should enjoy this.

The Boys is currently only available to stream on Amazon Prime, with no word as to whether or not they plan to make it available on video.

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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.

Unicorn Store

UnicornStore

Directed By: Brie Larson
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha McIsaac, Karan Soni, et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: Netflix
Grade: B-

After failing out of art school and moving back in with her parents, 20-something dreamer Kit decides it’s time to grow up. After getting an office job through a temp agency, she receives an invitation to a place known only as The Store. There, she meets the Salesman, who tells her that she has an opportunity to buy the one thing she’s always wanted to have: a real, live unicorn. As Kit makes preparations to house and care for her unicorn, she meets Virgil, a hardware store employee who’s intrigued by her quest, as well as her unwavering belief that she will actually be acquiring the mythical creature. When she’s also presented with an opportunity to advance at her job, Kit is torn between abandoning her childhood dreams and finally becoming a responsible adult.

This movie is very much What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. Aside from an almost painfully obvious lesson that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of your dreams or losing your sense of whimsy, there isn’t a whole lot of depth and hidden meaning. That said, the acting is fairly decent. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having a ball playing the Salesman, and Brie Larson, who pulls double duty as both the star and the director, seems incredibly comfortable with Kit’s unendingly idealistic nature. Cusack and Whitford, who play Kit’s parents, do a great job of hovering between wanting their child to be happy and just wanting them to finally grow up.

What little special effects are used are pretty good, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone looking to relax their mind with harmless fluff for 90 minutes or so will probably like this. The ending is relatively happy, and, as stated above, you won’t be taxed with hidden meanings. While the movie’s humor and somewhat nonsensical storyline may not appeal to everyone, anyone still in touch with their inner child should like it.

Unicorn Store is currently only available free to stream through Netflix, with no word as to whether they plan to make it available commercially.

Hellboy (2019)

Hellboy2019

Directed By: Neil Marshall
Starring: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Stephen Graham, Sophie Okonedo, Thomas Haden Church, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B

Brought to Earth during a Nazi occult ritual during World War II, Hellboy was taken in and raised by Trevor “Broom” Bruttenhold, who, along with several of the others who were present at his summoning, formed the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, or DPRD. Decades later, a creature named Grugach makes a deal with Baba Yaga to raise sorceress named Nimue who had been defeated by Arthur and Merlin so that they can seek revenge on Hellboy for the slights they believe he has dealt them over the course of his time on Earth. Teaming up with Major Ben Daimio, a member of M11 and shapeshifter, and Alice Monaghan, a civilian and powerful medium, Hellboy hunts down Nimue to prevent her from destroying the Earth, as she had attempted in the past.

This reboot of the 2004 movie is a serviceable attempt at cashing in on making R-rated comic book movies. Aside from Hellboy, Broom, and a brief appearance by Rasputin, no other characters from the first two movies appear, though one is introduced in the last few minutes. The story itself is interesting, though it seems ill-suited to the time constraints of a two hour movie. Many of the characters and fictional organizations have their backstory glossed over, despite the actually decent running time, and the story itself lags in parts and is rushed in others. Harbour does a good job of taking over the Hellboy mantle from Ron Perlman, who played the character in the two previous theatrical releases, as well as a handful of animated movies. The actors all work well together, and McShane does a good job of acting like a paternal figure.

The special effects are for the most part decent, but some of the animation, particularly of blood and other liquids, are a little off. The background filler isn’t noticeable.

Hardcore fans of the Hellboy comics will likely enjoy this movie, as well as people looking for an atypical supernatural action movie. The movie itself manages to keep from being too comic book-y. It would probably be worth the money to rent, though depending on how you feel about violence and language, parents may want to view it before letting small children watch.

Hellboy (2019) is currently not available free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Charmed Season 1

Charmed 01

Starring: Melodie Diaz, Madeleine Mantock, Sarah Jeffery, Rupert Evans, Ser’Darius Blain, Ellen Tamaki, Nick Hargrove et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: CW
Grade: B

After the sudden death of their mother, sisters Mel and Maggie discover that they not only have a half-sister, Macy, they never knew about, but that their mother was powerful witch. Shortly afterward, they are approached by Harry Greenwood, a coworker of their mothers who claims to be a Whitelighter sent to help them learn to harness their powers and keep them safe, informing them that they and their new sister are a prophsied trio of witches known as the Charmed Ones. With this new information, the three attempt to adjust to their new reality and fight the evils that seem determined to rid the world of them.

This reboot of the popular 90s television show isn’t actually that bad. While some plot points are lifted from the original series, for the most part they try their best to make the show their own and try to respect the memory of their source material. They also seem to be angling for a more expanded universe with the introduction and recurrence of different types of magical creatures, both good and evil. The actors playing the sisters all have decent chemistry and look like they could be related, and Rupert Evans does a good job of toeing the line between close friend and authority figure.

The special effects are fairly well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable for the most part.

Die-hard fans of the original series may not enjoy the reboot, but those in the target audience (teens and YAs) should like it. I tuned in mostly out of a morbid curiosity and was pleasantly surprised by how much I didn’t hate it. The only real issue I had with it was the heavy-handed way they dealt with feminist and equality messages. I don’t mind having a feminist or equal rights moral to a story, but I do mind being whacked over the head with them in nearly every episode. It got a bit tiresome, and may turn some viewers off to an otherwise pleasantly not terrible show.

Charmed is currently available to stream on Netflix, and will be available to purchase at participating retailers as of October 1, 2019.

Assassin’s Creed

AssassinsCreed

Directed By: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendon Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Dennis Ménochet, Ariane Labed, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

As a child, Cal Lynch watched his father murder his mother only moments before their home is invaded by unknown assailants. In the years that followed, Cal himself turned to a life of crime, eventually being executed for killing several people. When he wakes up after his execution, Cal is told by Dr. Sophia Rikkin that he is legally dead, she and her fellow scientists have brought him to their facility for an experiment. Cal eventually learns that he the last in a line of ‘Assassins’, and ancient order that has vowed to protect the Apple of Eden, and that Sophia and the other Abstergo people are descended from the Knights Templar, who have been searching for the Apple for centuries.

I’m going to start by saying I never played the video games this movie is adapted from, though I was vaguely aware of them. From my outsider’s perspective, the movie isn’t that bad. I’m sure there were some nods to the game that went over my head, but since I didn’t know to be looking for them, I can’t say whether they added to of detracted from the experience. The actors all do well with the material, though I probably could have gone the rest of my life without hearing Fassbender’s attempt at a southern accent (it’s not terrible, it’s just generally off-putting when someone considers his natural Irish one). Marion Cotillard seems a bit out of place in the movie, considering the kinds of movies she usually appears in, though she does well with the material, and her chemistry with Fassbender is spot-on. The story itself is easy to follow (a little research tells me it’s very close to the story of the original video game), and doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

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

While die-hard fans of the video game series may not enjoy this movie, anyone else who likes action and/or fantasy probably will. As stated before, the storyline is easy to follow, and while it may take a minute to get used to the way the flashbacks are handled, the movie itself is easily rewatchable and probably worth the couple of bucks it would cost to rent.

Assassin’s Creed is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

The Kid Who Would Be King

KidWhoWouldBeKing

Directed By: Joe Cornish
Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Denise Gough, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, et.al.
Rating: PG
Grade: B-

Twelve-year-old Alex and his best friend Bedders spend most of their days trying to escape their bullies, Lance and Kaye. However, one day, they stumble upon an abandon construction site and finds what appears to be a sword sticking out of a piece of stone. Believing a weapon would better his chances, Alex pulls out the sword. The next day, a new student at Alex’s school approaches him and tells him that Alex is a descendant of King Arthur, and that by taking Excalibur from the stone, the evil sorceress Morgana has awakened to wreak her revenge on Arthur’s line and the people of England. Using the story of ‘The Once and Future King’ as a guide, Alex recruits Bedders, Lance, and Kaye to be his knights as they attempt to defeat Morgana before the pending solar eclipse when she will reach full power and destroy them all.

When undertaking an update of a classic tale, there is always a problem of balance, and finding a way to modernize the story without losing its heart. Surprisingly, this adaptation manages to avoid those issues and delivers a surprisingly charming and enjoyable movie. Despite the fantasy elements, the story itself is relatable to more than just children, and, while the idea of a child finding out they’re actually more special than they were led to believe, if it’s well approached like this movie is, then it’s not as bothersome as some attempts tend to be. The kids all work well together and the actors playing the children show promise with their talents.

The special effects are all pretty good for a mid-budget children’s movie, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This movie should appeal to almost everyone. The story is light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and everyone involved appears to be having fun. Those who don’t enjoy fantasy may not want to watch it over and over again, but they probably won’t regret watching it at least once.

The Kid Who Would Be King is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Mortal Engines

MortalEngines

Directed By: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae Kim, Ronan Rafferty, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Steven Lang, Colin Salmon, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

In a distant, post-apocalyptic dystopia, humans have abandon stationary dwellings, and have rebuilt their cities to move on wheels. As resources continue to dwindle, only the biggest and fiercest cities can survive and often overtake the smaller cities and towns which roam the countryside. After Hester Shaw sets herself on a city about to be overtaken by London, one of the most fearsome cities in Europe, she sets out her plan to assassinate Thaddeus Valentine, the man who murdered her mother years earlier and left Hester horribly disfigured. When her plan fails, she flees into the bowels of the city in an attempt to escape, where she is followed by Tom Natsworthy, a man who works with Valentine’s daughter in the museum. Before jumping from the city, she gives Tom a message, which he relays to Valentine when he arrives moments later. Realizing Tom knows too much, Valentine pitches Tom overboard in an attempt to silence him, which was witnessed by an acquaintance of Tom’s, unknown to Valentine. Having survived their falls from London, Tom and Hester enter into an uneasy alliance to get back to the city. Their journey, however is hampered by the dangers of Outlands, the mysterious figure in pursuit of Hester, and the terrible weapon that Valentine is crafting which threatens to destroy anyone who might stand in his way.

One of the latest YA dystopian movies, this is hindered both by having much of the material excised to make a palatable movie length, as well as being released at the end of the dystopian YA craze. Though neither one of those really has an impact on the quality of this surprisingly not awful movie. I always feel that these sprawling fantasy series would be better served by a television series so that less information is lost in translating them from book to screen. That said, the movie itself isn’t all that bad. It manages to escape many of the tired tropes that audiences have come to expect from YA movies (the ‘special’ girl who isn’t traditionally pretty; a love triangle between two vastly different boys, one of whom rarely/never takes an interest in girls; etc.) Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar have a decent chemistry, and Hugo Weaving always seems to be having fun when he plays a villain.

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

This should appeal to most people who enjoy sci-fi/fantasy movies. The storyline is interesting enough that the underlying fact of it mainly being a teen movie shouldn’t hamper one’s enjoyment of it. Most of the scenery is beautiful and makes it worth the watch. The movie is also good enough that it probably won’t grate on anyone’s nerves upon rewatching it.

Mortal Engines is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.