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 – Is it as good as Wonder Woman, no not by a long shot, but it is also not the steaming mess like the last two films, so there has been some improvement here.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
P.S. – There is a mid and end credit scene.
Ok before we start I need to say that this is actually a very hard film to review because while it shouldn’t matter, you can’t avoid not looking into the issues this film had in pre-production. Firstly, you have the disastrous reaction to both Batman v Superman (see review) and Suicide Squad (see review) hitting after production had already started, and you can see the course correction that they tried to make here. But also during production Zach Snyder’s family suffered a great tragedy and he stepped aside which meant that the reshoots and final edit was completed by Joss Whedon. So it is hard to work out where to direct criticism, but also you don’t want to heap stuff on someone who has suffered greatly. So will all this groundwork I will try my best to be objective here but you can’t help but bring outside stuff into this.
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.
TL;DR – It takes the very best of Batman, adds in some great animation and adds an interesting villain, I highly recommend it
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
“I’m Batman”, it is a phrase so common I bet you just said it in your head Christian Bale style or indeed Will Arnett style. Batman is one of those unambiguous pop-culture references and touchstones that everyone knows about even if they have never read a comic or seen a movie. So if you are a marketing executive you are loving this exposure, however, the Batman from the Lego films is a parody and an almost one-note parody at that. This is a problem because we have seen over and over again when you take the zany side character and give them their own film it often doesn’t work, see the last Pirates of the Caribbean. So with today’s review, we are going to take a moment to look at what lead to the creation of this film, then look at the animation, story and characters, and see if it holds up.
TL;DR – Sigh, oh DC, it really looked like you tried on this movie, but boy the best that you can do is an aggressively mediocre outing that adds nothing to the franchise, and as a self-contained film – well you can do a lot worse, but you can also do a lot better.
Score – 2 out of 5 stars
P.S. There is a mid-credits scene
When it comes to that whole DC v Marvel comics rivalry which seems to permeate the internet these days, for me this was one of those arguments that was never really a factor in my life growing up. This is because we didn’t really get the comics where I lived, but what we did get was the animated series, like X-Men and Batman, and they were not aired in competition with each other, and indeed sometimes aired on the same TV channel. So growing up you were not a DC or Marvel person, it was more “did you see that episode yesterday”, I feel I really need to start with this up front because I really want this Justice League series to work, I really do. However I don’t think Suicide Squad is the film that will do it, and in fact all it does is show that DC/WB just don’t seem to know how to get this movie series off the ground. At best it is average, and at worse it is quite problematic, but in the end it is not really all that engaging and you’ll probably forget most of it within a day of watching it.