In this lighthearted DCEU entry, Billy Batson is a trouble-making fourteen-year-old living in a foster home in Philadelphia, having been abandoned by a young mother he’s been searching for since she left him at a crowded carnival many years prior. One day, the sleuthing prankster gets transported after an act of bravery to another realms to meet a powerful and reclusive wizard, who has been on a long-term search for someone pure of heart to pass on his magical powers to. The wizard bestows upon Billy the power to turn into an muscle-bound, adult-bodied, costumed superhero by using his name of “Shazam!” Along with his superhero-loving best friend in the foster home, Freddy, the still adolescent-minded Billy has plenty of fun in discovering his new powers and all of the things he can do with them, from buying beer to giving the school bullies some comeuppance. However, things get serious with the emergence of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, once past over as unworthy by the wizard and seeking to usurp them from Billy, along with the cabal of demon-like possessors within him, representing the Seven Deadly Sins who plan to come to power with Sivana as their vessel to the outside world.
Category Archives: Action
Dragged Across Concrete is writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s further exploration of the seamy underbelly of American society, particularly through the prism of how that experience causes ripple effects that throw even innocent people into the wake of the criminals. Most of the action follows the exploits of two cops in the fictional city of Bulwark, the older burnout Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), who get suspended from the force after they are caught on camera going a little too far in roughing up a suspect in the current environment that frowns on the perception of racial profiling. The other major story arc in the film involves Henry Johns, just released from prison, going back to a life of crime in order to provide for his mother (a drug user who has been prostituting herself for needed cash) and disabled younger brother, who has aspirations of becoming a video game developer. The two stories converge when the cops decide they’re going to snatch money from a secretive drug dealer named Vogelmann, while Henry, working for that guy, becomes the wheel-man in a bank heist.
After a nearly five-year hiatus from writing and directing films, J.C. Chandor re-emerges with Triple Frontier (for Netflix), in which five ex-military special ops soldiers reunite in order to stage a heist of a murderous major South American drug lord. Oscar Isaac is the de facto leader of the quintet, playing Santiago, who decides to “get the band back together” for one last mission for reconnaissance for the government to take down the elusive drug lord he’s spent years trying to take down, Lorea, but changes the mission once he discovers that they could do the bust themselves, take out the human vermin the world is better off without, and score the millions of dollars in cash within his jungle-hidden, well-guarded mansion. Each of the men find that their service for the country hasn’t exactly resulted in the country taking care of them financially, so they figure they should get what’s fair for their years of sacrifice, making it worth their salt to commit to. Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal co-star in this action/adventure/thriller.
Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, aka Vers, aka Captain Marvel, an ultra-powerful warrior for an alien race called the Kree, from the capital planet Hala, part of an elite group of warriors called Starforce, who are doing battle with the fearsome, shape-shifting Skrulls, who have the power to impersonate other living beings, with a notable limitation in memories. She is haunted by her own memories of a strange time and place, when she was a pilot in the United States Air Force, which she ends up learning more about when she ends up jettisoned on Earth in 1995. After an explosive skirmish and her high-powered suit catches the interest of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she meets the initially skeptical Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and begins her search for the light-speed engine, another object in Vers’s memories, that both civilizations want to get their hands on first. It is on Earth that she begins to put the pieces of her memory and former life there back together, reuniting with old friends in her old stomping grounds. She also begins to discover more about her mission, what is being fought for, and the nature of the vicious Kree-Skrull war that she never knew about. Unfortunately, the Skrulls, led by Talos, are in hot pursuit on a planet completely unaware and unprepared for the arrival of such high-powered beings.
The origin of Alita: Battle Angel starts with Yukito Kishiro’s intricately plotted 1990 manga, something this adaptation has to simplify in order to make it palatable for wide-release audiences. The setting is an Earth five centuries from now, a mostly tumultuous and vice-filled world that suffers even more by comparison to the life of luxury from the beaming city utopia called Zalem that floats above their heads. Christoph Waltz plays Dr. Ido, a brilliant scientist who has been through he trash-heaps of history to find something of value and meaning. Ido soon discovers the remnants of a robotic entity, taking it back to his lab for rehabilitation, resulting in a cyborg creation he has dubbed “Alita” (which was also the name of the daughter he lost in a tragedy), who has the mind of a teenage girl and hard-shell body to match. She walks, talks and understands, but one thing she can’t readily do is remember who she is or why she exists. Ido provides fatherly guidance, but Alita is drawn to battle and action by her nature, stoked further by an interest in the local boy named Hugo, who sees more potential in Alita’s abilities that could make her formidable in a world that values such adept skills in the arena of conflict.
Glass serves as a sequel to two films from M. Night Shyamalan, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2018’s Split, the latter of which tied itself to the former with the post-end title stinger. Bruce Willis makes his return as the ‘unbreakable’ security company owner David Dunn, who, along with his adult son (and sole employee) Joseph, is trying to track down a crazy roaming the streets of Philadelphia who is abducting teenage girls. James McAvoy continues his portrayal of Kevin Wendell Crumb, aka The Horde, a conglomerations of split personalities that take over Kevin’s body at various points, including the homicidal brute known as The Beast, who is the one feeding on those girls David is looking for . Samuel L. Jackson also returns from Unbreakable as the titular character, the brittle mastermind self-named Mr. Glass, aka Elijah Price, who has apparently been laying low for some time under heavy sedation. The three end up rounded up and subsequently kept separate chambers within a high-security psychiatric facility led by Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple, whose specialty is in rehabilitating persons who believe they are superheroes. From Split, Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cooke, who survived her terror-filled first meeting with The Horde while in its persona as The Beast, but who finds herself drawn to help him escape his inner demons.
This time out, the character of Bumblebee ends up going back to his original look from the toy line and cartoon series of a Volkswagen Beetle, when he arrives on Earth back in 1987 as part of a last-minute escape plan for the Autobots on Cybertron to find an inhabitable planet as theirs is about to be destroyed in an all-out civil war with the Decepticons. Bumblebee ends up emerging in California, where his dormant state of the Beetle laying in rust in a junkyard, in hiding after being hunted by Sector Seven (the government agency who first discovers him), draws the eye of a troubled teenage girl named Charlie Watson, who views the car as freedom and an opportunity to follow in her recently deceased father’s footsteps by repairing two damaged precious things – the car, and herself.
The setting starts sometime in the 1980s, where we find Atlantean queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) coming up to the surface in the state of Maine to get away from an arranged marriage, seeking a bit of sanctuary and time to heal in a lighthouse run by a human named Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison). The two unlikely partners fall in love, eventually leading to a son, Arthur Curry. The kingdom of Atlantis is not pleased with Atlanna’s apparent defection to the land, sending out their soldiers to claim her back, culminating in Tom being left alone to raise the boy himself as a human, except one with the powers of Atlanteans in his DNA, including an ability to talk to and command all forms of marine life.
We fast forward to Arthur’s adulthood, known to the land-dwellers as “The Aquaman” after a series of public acts of heroism, one including taking down pirates that includes future nemesis Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mareen II). However, Arthur has to become a savior to his adopted people when the current rule of Atlantis, Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), is looking to mount a war with the land walkers who continue to pollute the oceans, seeking the assistance of King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), one of the leaders of the ‘seven seas’ needed to approve. Nereus’s daughter Mera looks to recruit Arthur’s assistance in staving off the uprising from his brother’s charge. Arthur must go undersea to make his presence felt, but the opposite of a fish out of water in his new environs in the Atlantean realm, especially when the situation boils down to a mano-a-mano battle between Arthur and Orm on his home turf (or non-turf, as it happens to be).
The Marvel Comics villain gets the antihero treatment in this Spiderman-less origin story filled with grotesque body horror and lots of crazy CGI-infused action. Tom Hardy stars as reporter Eddie Brock, who finds himself the host of an alien symbiote he discovers within a hi-tech laboratory he’s investigating. That alien needs live organs to feast upon, which means Eddie’s if he can’t find other things for “Venom”, which is what the symbiote calls himself, to ravenously consume. Michelle Williams stars as Brock’s ex-fiance, and Riz Ahmed is the head of the corporate lab out to experiment on the living in order for humans to try to survive on other planets when this one is no longer, inevitably, inhabitable. Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer directs.
Shane Black tries to do what no one has done thus far, and that’s to make a good follow-up to John McTiernan’s 1997 action classic, PREDATOR. Here, the Predators are back searching for their old technology, and possibly taking over the Earth, having to confront a rag-tag group of disgrace military vets in their way. Boyd Holdbrook, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes and Jacob Tremblay also appear.