Shazam! (2019)

Well this is fun. Genuinely one of the most fun superhero films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s pure cinematic joy. So yeah, I liked it. It melted even my cold cynical heart, eventually. I mean, it took f*cking forever to get going. That’s always the issue with the first film in a superhero series though, particularly with one that not many people now. You have to not only have a film within itself, you need to introduce everything; the universe (Batman Begins wouldn’t have been as effective, for example, without first setting up that Gotham was kind of a shithole), the main characters backstory, and the villains backstory. That’s a lot to do in a short period of time, and it’s REALLY hard. That’s why it’s shared universes are great for this kind of thing, you can set up the characters in someone elses film. Spider-Man: Homecoming for example didn’t need to spend much time setting up the character, as he was already introduced in Civil War (also, EVERYONE knows Spider-man). If you cut out the origin story then the biggest issue with this film would be fixed immediately as it will be a lot pacier and flow better. To be honest, this character would have been perfect in Justice League, taking most of the comedic dialogue away from The Flash. You’d have to restructure parts of this though so there is a chance that might break it. This film is pretty much about family, it contains genuine emotion, like, tears slightly welling up level of emotion. The cast is also great. Zachary Levi easily makes you forget you’re actually watching an adult, not a large child.

I mean, it’s not perfect. As I’ve mentioned the pacing is glacial at the start. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with the way it looks, per se, it just isn’t visually very interesting which is a shame. It looks just like a normal film, nothing really wows you. I also think they missed a golden opportunity. This bit contains plot spoilers btw. There’s a moment where all his adopted siblings also become adult superheroes. I feel this would have been a great chance to have some cameos, you know, have some fun with the casting in some way. Oh, and the villain is missing from long periods of the film. Holy crap this film had a lot of flaws now I look at it. But I don’t care. I wasn’t thinking about the flaws when I left the cinema, I was smiling like an idiot because the film was fun enough to make me not think about them. And really isn’t that all you want from a film a lot of the time? For it to entertain you? Although I’m still not sure if it’s Faithe Herman who’s adorable and lovely, or just the character. Let’s just say it’s both for sake of argument.

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Us (2019)

Spoilers: this film isn’t as good as Get Out. That’s not damning it though, as VERY few films are as good as Get Out. I feel that film could weigh Jordan Peele down slightly, it has given everything he is involved with INCREDIBLY high expectations which it’s going to be hard for him to match.

That being said, this film is still spectacular. I don’t see it hitting pop culture quite as high as Get Out did, but it’s still probably one of the highlights of the year, and definitely the best horror film of the year so far.

Honestly, and as much as I hate to say this, the weakest part of this film is the script. It feels like it needed adjusting slightly. I mean, it is still good, but there are moments where it’s a bit too unsubtle, a bit too unfocused, taking too long to say certain things. It’s still great, it just needs slight tweaks. While the script isn’t as good as Get Out, this film is MUCH better directed, which considering how great a job he did on Get Out, really says something. EVERYTHING seems to have purpose visually. He’s great at making sure a sense of unease looms over the entire film, giving even innocuous scenes a sense of dread. You could watch normal scenes out of context, scenes of family just walking down the beach, and they’d be SOMETHING about it which would tell you it’s slightly off.

The performances are also SUPERB. Almost everyone in it has to play two roles, and they need to make them different enough to visually identify which character we are seeing. Lupita Nyong’o in particular really nails it. The way she makes her characters move effects how you see them as people, it’s truly great.

My favourite moment of this film? The wham moment (which is not to be confused with the scene from Keanu where they argue that George Michael was a gangster, that’s a Wham! moment) is one of the best I’ve seen. This moment has slight spoilers so if you don’t want this film spoiled, look away now, and I’ll tell you when you can look back.

Those fucking idiots. If they’re looking away then they won’t see when I tell them to look back, they’re going to be walking around forever looking slightly to the left, they’re going to walk into so many open sewers. Hah!

Wait, where was I? Oh right, the wham moment. For a lot of this film it’s played like the only clones (ok, they’re not clones, but if I call them “tethereds” that will make no sense unless you either see the film, or I explain it) that exist are the ones of the family. We then find out that they exist of another family, and they’re all similar; all sociopathic killers. We then see a news broadcast and find out it’s country-wide. This moment is SUPERB. We find out that what we have been watching has been happening all over the country, that there are millions of stories just like the one we’ve seen, and they’ve all ended brutally. That is what I will remember from this film, how I felt in that moment. Also, that moment had a piece of realisation of visual foreshadowing that made me say out loud “You magnificent bastard”. So that’s that, this film made me annoying.

Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

This is not the greatest film I’ve seen, but it’s enjoyable. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a piece of toast (I compare films to food way more than most people do, I should look into that). By that, I mean that no matter how perfectly it does what it needs to, it will never be your favourite. It sticks to a formula, and as such is kind of restrained by that. You can guess almost every single plot point in this film from the opening 10 minutes. It won’t surprise you at all. But it doesn’t really need to, this is not a film to analyse and pore over, it’s a film to sit and distract yourself, and it does that well. The dialogue is razor sharp, the characters are loveable (and fully fleshed out, even the background ones have minor details to them which help you know them), and it will make you smile. The whole thing is just massively endearing and charming and, I don’t know, warm I guess is the word I’m looking for. You know how certain films have colours attached to them? I’d say this one is a warm sea blue. It’s just comforting and lovely, the kind of film the whole family gathers and watches on Christmas Day, in that post-dinner haze where you’re all too exhausted to move, and someone inevitably falls asleep in the sofa with their Christmas hat still on. It’s incredibly BBC, and I mean that as positive and a negative.

So yeah don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if (actually, when) it comes on iPlayer, watch it immediately.

The above made complete sense in relation to this film. Which is weird, as with the exception of 3 words, it was lifted word for word from an earlier review. That’s both the best and worst thing about about this film. It’s nice to have something familiar, even if it is something new. It’s comforting to not have to sit there wondering exactly what’s going to happen and to just be able to lose yourself in the dialogue and the characters. It’s nice to have something you can have on in the background and talk to people during. It’s good to have something you expect, and have it meet every expectation. But yeah it can be a bit annoying to have that. It can be slightly frustrating to feel you’ve already seen everything in it. I think my feelings would be a lot less forgiving if I had paid for this, I feel that about quite a few films, but this one in particular was received more warmly because it was free. I mean, it is enjoyable, incredibly so, it just never feels like it does more than exist. It doesn’t grab you. It does have James Purefoy looking like a West Country Wolverine though, so it gets a few points for that.