TL;DR – A hollow film trying to say something but knowing it actually has nothing to say and hoping you will be distracted by Phoenix’s performance not to notice.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
It has been a couple of days since I watched Joker and instead of writing the review right away I needed to let
this film sit a percolate in my brain for a bit before I started writing. Part
of that is because I have talked to a lot of people because there are a lot of different experiences with the
film, so I wanted to make sure I knew the different perspectives before I dived
in. But also because there are aspects of the film I quite like and those that
I really don’t and I needed to work through that juxtaposition.
So to set the scene, in the 1980s Gotham City is beset by a garbage strike and
tempers are starting to flare as the piles of rubbish start to accumulate. On
the outskirts of the city lives Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) who works as a
clown during the day and looks after his housebound mother Penny (Frances
Conroy) in the evenings. Which would be difficult enough for any person but
Arthur suffers from a neurological condition that required multiple types of
medication and still causes spontaneous uncontrollable laughter. Things are
manageable for Arthur but as his life starts to unravel so does he.
TL;DR – By finding a focus, Shazam! shows that DC can really make great films when they focus on something, in this case, the role of family.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and post-credit scene
By now, I am sure you have heard about the issues with the DC Extended Universe,
in the race to get that big multi-film spanning Cinema Empire they jumped the
gun too early and rushed forward before finding out if people wanted what they
were giving. During its First Run,
there was only one film that was both a critical and commercial success, Wonder
Woman, this was because it had its own heart and was not just here to
push a cinematic universe, and it has something to say. Since then we have had Aquaman
that while not perfect was at least trying to do something interesting, and
today we get a look at the next film that found that fun is fine, but heart is more important.
So to set the scene, we open as a young Thad (Ethan Pugiotto) is on a car trip
with his unpleasant family in the 1970s when he is sucked into another realm
run by Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) the last of the council of wizards left. He is
trying to find someone pure of heart to be his successor, but alas Thad is not
the one. Fast forward to December 2018 when we find Billy Batson (Asher Angel)
helping the police out, but it a ruse to get into their computer because he is
trying to find his mum that he lost as a child. Well,
it didn’t work out and Billy is put with new foster parents Victor (Cooper
Andrews) and Rosa (Marta Milans), not that he plans to stay long. However,
everything changes when a subway trip leads him to a dark cave and he yells out
the word Shazam becoming someone completely else (Zachary Levi).
TL;DR – Bombastic, silly, overly long, but still by far some of the best fun DC has made so far.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
To say that the DC Expanded Universe has had a rough launch up to this point would be a bit of an understatement. Indeed, of all the past films, only Wonder Woman (see review) felt like a coherent film in any great sense. So, more than ever, the first film after Justice League had to hit the ground running, even more so after background conversations that the expanded universe was losing a lot of its big-name talent. Now while Aquaman is not a perfect film, it is a film with a lot of style, and more than most of the films that have come before it was just fun.
TL;DR – While not revolutionary per se, DC finally found a formula that works, and realised that there is no point moving a universe ahead if the individual movies don’t work.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
P.S. – There is NO mid/post credit sequence
So if you have read my reviews for Suicide Squad or Batman v Superman you would probably know that unfortunately, I have not had the best time with the DC Expanded Universe so far. Now when it comes to DC v Marvel I have no skin in the game, I want both to succeed, and I only care about if the movie is good or not, and so far DC just has not made a compelling entry into this expanded universe of theirs. Well, that is until now. Is Wonder Woman a perfect film, no of course not, but it is logically structured, emotionally resonant, and filled with fascinating characters, which is a huge step in the right direction. Now as we go one we will keep this as spoiler free as possible, however, we do need to discuss the ending, but we will clearly mark them so that you can avoid them it if you want.