‘Shazam!’ Film Review: DC Comics Gets a Bouncy Burst of Big-Screen Ebullience

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If the “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” movies represented DC Comics’ first big-screen steps away from the austere color palette of the Zach Snyder movies, “Shazam!” takes us deeply into primary colors in a single bound. There’s still a touch of urban decay and kitchen-table warmth on display — this is by no means Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” or a candy-colored Cartoon Network production — but this new DC entry has a lovely lightness, both in the visuals and in its tone.

Before the 1940s serials and the 1970s Saturday-morning TV show, “Shazam!” was born in a magazine called Whiz Comics, published by Fawcett and later acquired by the company that would be known as DC Comics. (Of course, the character used to be called Captain Marvel, but that’s a long story.) And to use a 1940s expression, there’s a gee-whiz ebullience to the movie that makes it stand out among the last several decades’ worth of caped crusaders.

Young Billy Batson (Asher Angel, “Andi Mack”) has spent most of his childhood escaping foster homes in the hopes of finding his mother (Caroline Palmer); as a 4-year-old, Billy got lost at a carnival and never found her again, although he’s sure she’s still looking for him. So when a new set of foster parents take him in, he’s got one eye on the door, even though everyone seems really nice, particularly Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer, “It”), a Superman fan who’s never without a quip or the crutch that helps him walk. (“You look at me and you think, ‘Why so dark? Disabled foster kid, you got it all.’”)

Watch Video: ‘Shazam!’ Trailer: Zachary Levi Leaps Tall Buildings in a Single Bound – Almost

Everything changes when the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) summons Billy and gives him the power to transform into a superhero who will protect Earth against the Seven Deadly Sins. When Billy says, “Shazam!” he is transformed by a bolt of lightning, magically imbued with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. And while Billy and Freddy try to figure out how these powers work — even when he changes from little kid into strapping Zachary Levi, the new Shazam is still immature Billy inside, wisdom of Solomon or no — Shazam’s appearance stokes the fury of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

Sivana, as a young boy, was himself summoned by Shazam to the Rock of Eternity before the wizard rejected him as unworthy, leading Sivana to spend his life trying to return. Over the years, Sivana realizes that Shazam turned away hundreds of candidates, only finally selecting Billy out of desperation. But since Sivana is greedy and venal, and burdened with daddy issues of his own, he’s easy pickings for those Seven Deadly Sins, who possess him and force him to do their bidding.

Confronted by Sivana, who wants the Shazam powers for himself, Billy/Shazam’s first instinct is to hide and run away. But when Sivana comes after his new foster family, will Billy figure out how to be a hero and also how to depend on others for love and support? The answer to these questions won’t shock you, but “Shazam!” does offer some surprises along the way. Critics on Twitter have compared this movie to both “Shoplifters” and “Meet the Robinsons,” and they aren’t wrong. The way that Billy resolves his own issues regarding family as well as the larger crisis of the end of the world makes sense in the context of the script (by Henry Gayden, “Earth to Echo,” from a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke, “Goosebumps”) while also honoring the original comics by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, who very quickly gave Billy a cadre of co-heroes known as the Marvel Family.

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Fans of those comics might not recognize this Sivana, much taller and more handsome than the creepy mad scientist of the original, and even though “Shazam!” doesn’t give us any talking tigers, there are some hints that one of the series’ most ridiculous yet most beloved villains will be popping up in future installments. (As always for movies like this, it’s a good idea to stay through the credits.) What’s most important is that the movie does capture the original comics’ combination of breezy heroism and nutty plotting, transferred from the 1940s to the modern era with great skill.

An old hand at horror, director David F. Sandberg (“Annabelle: Creation,” “Lights Out”) does throw in a few scenes that are too dark for the otherwise amiable tone of “Shazam!” And when we finally see the Seven Deadly Sins, they look like the kind of bargain-basement CG creatures that you get when a game on your phone shows you an ad for a different game that you would never want to play. But neither of these problems inflicts much damage. The cast is consistently sharp, with Grazer in particular managing great chemistry with both versions of Billy. Levi’s body language is constantly inventive, as he plays a tween who still isn’t used to a grown man’s body, let alone a superhero’s. (And yes, Gayden even throws in a gag to acknowledge the fact that we’re all thinking about “Big.”)

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It’s worth highlighting Leah Butler’s costume design; her Shazam costume is great — on paper, the character had one of the weirdest capes in all the comics, but she’s managed to turn it into something more along the lines of a hoodie — while the family of foster kids all wear outfits that convey distinct personalities but still look appropriately like they’ve been curated with love and care at a Goodwill.

One of the delights of DC Comics over the years is that the unlikeliest characters can bump up against each other; you can stick Batman on the same page with The Phantom Stranger, Amethyst of Gemworld, the Doom Patrol and Rip Hunter, Time Master, and somehow they all fit. As the company’s films move in the same direction, it will be interesting to see how well “Shazam!” will play with his super-peers.



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‘Captain Marvel’ Reaction: Marvel’s First Superhero Film Sends Important Message to Young Girls (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

[Spoiler alert: Do not read on or watch the video above if you are worried about any kind of “Captain Marvel” spoiler or tease at all.”]

The embargo for Marvel’s first female superhero film, “Captain Marvel,” has lifted, and TheWrap’s resident fanboy Umberto Gonzalez, and film reporter Beatrice Verhoeven are here to give you their thoughts.

“I walked away from it feeling empowered as a woman, I think it sends a great message to young girls of not needing to conform to what people tell you to do, to embrace your inner strength… it’s very different from other movies,” Verhoeven said. “Brie [Larson] is a revelation, and I think the message is different from other Marvel movies, and I think it’s going to play really well among young girls.”

Early tracking for Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel” is projecting that the film will have an opening weekend of more than $100 million when it hits theaters on March 8, which would make it the first big box office hit of 2019.

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Aside from “Black Panther’s” mammoth $201 million opening last year, this film is on pace to be the highest opening for a debut superhero installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By comparison, 2016’s “Doctor Strange” opened to $85 million, while 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” opened to $94 million. This tracking also means that “Captain Marvel” could rival or even top the last film to feature a female superhero, “Wonder Woman,” which opened to $103 million in 2017 and went on to gross $412.5 million domestic and $821 million worldwide.

“Captain Marvel” stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who was recovered by the Kree after mysterious circumstances and was transformed into the titular superhero at the cost of her memories. After crash-landing back on Earth during the 1990s, Carol must recover her past self and save the planet from getting caught in an intergalactic conflict with the help of future SHIELD director Nick Fury.

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“Overall, not the best Marvel movie, but it’s very solid and if there is one little spoiler-ish thing… does it lead into ‘Avengers: End Game?’ The answer is yes,” Gonzalez said.

“Captain Marvel” is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a screenplay they co-wrote with Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Jac Schaeffer. Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law star alongside Larson.

Watch the reaction video above.

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‘Shazam!’ Trailer: Zachary Levi Leaps Tall Buildings in a Single Bound – Almost (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

He missed it by that much! In the new trailer for “Shazam!” Zachary Levi tests out some of his classic superhero abilities, like being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

He can jump! But maybe not that high. Ouch.

The long-awaited second trailer for “Shazam!” gives a fuller sense of this quirky DC Comics origin story, with a 14-year-old boy (Asher Angel) acquiring superpowers from an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) to transform into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Here’s more of the official logline:

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Still a kid at heart — inside a ripped, godlike body — Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them!  Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands?  Can he skip his social studies test?  Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child.  But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

We also got a longer look at Strong’s villain in this latest trailer and how the growing pains of Shazam’s powers create some bigger problems.

“You electrocuted a bus and then almost killed those people,” Shazam’s teenage friend says. “And then I caught it!!”

“Shazam!” opens April 5 in theaters and on IMAX.

Watch the new trailer for the film above.

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Will There Be a ‘Captain Marvel’ Trailer During the Super Bowl?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

We are so close now to the end of this drought in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Avengers: Infinity War” dropped the wildest cliffhanger we’ve ever seen in a blockbuster franchise, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” two months later was set before and during that whole thing. But finally, “Captain Marvel” promises to, even though it’s set decades before “Avengers: Endgame,” move the plot forward a bit when it comes out on March 8.

Disney’s marketing campaign for “Captain Marvel” has been robust, with two full trailers plus a 90-second “special look” during the college football national championship game in early January. TV spots have been rolling out regularly, and they even dropped a 60-second action sequence on YouTube on Saturday.

So if there ever were a moment for Disney to kick the hype into overdrive, an ad during the Super Bowl five weeks before release would be perfect. But is that going to happen?

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Officially, we do not know what Disney’s plans are for the Super Bowl, for “Captain Marvel” or “Avengers: Endgame” or “Toy Story 4” or anything else on the company’s schedule for 2019. We suspect a trailer for “Endgame” is imminent — it just would be the right time for it — but what’s next for the marketing on “Captain Marvel” is anyone’s guess.

It would make sense to really fire up the TV campaign with a Super Bowl ad, but you have to wonder whether they’d want to run trailers for two different MCU movies in the same day. They may want to just do one. And if they have to pick one it would probably be the next “Avengers” movie because we’ve only seen that single, cryptic trailer so far for that one.

On the other hand, both “Infinity War” and “Black Panther” got Super Bowl spots a year ago, so there’s certainly precedent for Disney doing both. But this is all guesswork — we do not know the answer to this question yet. But our feeling is that it’s very likely we’ll get an “Avengers: Endgame” trailer and more of a coin flip whether we get a “Captain Marvel” one as well. We’ll find out soon enough.

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Watch the Third ‘Captain Marvel’ Trailer Here (Video)

New ‘Captain Marvel’ Trailer Takes Flight (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

And here we go. A new “Captain Marvel” trailer has finally arrived, somewhat soothing the pain of being in the middle of the longest gap between Marvel Cinematic Universe movies since 2015. Disney dropped this thing during Monday Night Football, and you can check it out in the embedded video above.

The trailer features a ton of the crazy space-based action that we knew a “Captain Marvel” movie would have to contain, but which we saw none of in the first trailer back in September. It also gives us a glimpse of the basics of the plot — that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is not aware of her past as a human on Earth after being turned into a half-Kree supersoldier, and that once she arrives on her home planet and meets Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) she’ll have to piece together what she’s lost as she attempts to figure out her place in the universe.

We also get our first look here at Annette Bening as the Kree responsible for Danvers’ converseion into Captain Marvel, as well as a glimpse of Jude Law making an almost threatening comment to Danvers. Law’s role is still a mystery, though it’s been assumed that he’s playing Mar-Vell as his casting reports mentioned that his role is that of Captain Marvel’s mentor.

It’s been a painful seven months since “Avengers: Infinity War” left us hanging with the deaths of so many superheroes like Spider-Man, Black Panther and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And while we loved “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” it was certainly short on answers for what’s coming next. So we’re left hoping that “Captain Marvel” will blow this whole thing open.

“Captain Marvel” is a prequel, set two decades before the cataclysmic events of “Infinity War,” but there’s a decent chance that the film will set in motion the events that led to Thanos’ war on the universe — given the comic book ties Thanos has to Mar-Vell, the mentor to Carol Danvers. Fingers crossed.

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“Captain Marvel” is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and written by Boden, Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Jac Schaeffer, with a story by Nicole Perlman and Joe Shrapnel.

The flick stars Brie Larson as the titular Carol Danvers/ Captain Marvel, alongside Jude Law, Gemma Chan, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendolsohn, Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace.

“Captain Marvel” lands in theaters March 9, 2019.

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The first trailer for “Captain Marvel” is here, filling in a few details of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first standalone movie about a woman superhero. The hints are few and far between, though, because it seems protagonist Carol …

Here’s Why Captain Marvel Punched That Old Lady in the Trailer

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The first trailer for “Captain Marvel” (watch it here if you haven’t) hints at a whole lot of things, from the origin story of Carol Danvers as a superhero, to the fact that she doesn’t remember her life on Earth. It also is pretty vague about the threats she faces when she gets here.

One shot from the trailer gives a sense of what Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is up against, and at least part of the reason she’s returned to Earth, though. It’s the one that makes Carol look a little rough — when she blasts an elderly woman in the face while riding a train.

If you’re a fan of the Marvel comics on which “Captain Marvel” is based, you probably have an idea why Captain Marvel would punch a seemingly innocent human. If not, you need to know about one of the biggest, most ubiquitous alien threats in the Marvel universe: the Skrulls.

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The Skrulls are the main villains of “Captain Marvel,” so far as we know. And perhaps the most key characteristic of the Skrulls is that they have the ability to shapeshift. That is, they can pretend to be human if they want to. (You can read all about the Skrulls here.)

The news that the Skrulls would feature heavily in “Captain Marvel” sparked a lot of theories about how maybe a character who’s been around the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a while might have secretly been a Skrull the whole time — Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is a popular pick.

In any case, this factoid about the Skrulls is important for this moment in the trailer when Carol Danvers whacks that old lady. We would presume that she did that because she thought that woman was a Skrull in disguise. We’ll of course have to wait to see the movie to find out for sure, but it seems unlikely that Marvel would want its newest hero to introduce herself to the work by slugging an old lady who really is just a random old lady.

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There’s another shot in that trailer that indicates Carol isn’t just being crazy — the shot from earlier in the trailer of Captain Marvel doing battle in a train station and on top of a train. Those shots look to us to be from the same sequence, both taking place on the LA Metro’s Expo Line train, which is light rail that goes from downtown to Santa Monica. So if she’s on top of that train shooting lasers out of her hands, then that old lady probably wasn’t just an old lady.

“Captain Marvel” lands in theaters on March 8, and serves as a prequel to most of the MCU as it’s set in the 1990s. In addition to Larson, the film features a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as Captain Marvel’s mentor, Mar-Vell, Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou reprising their roles from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Gemma Chan and Ben Mendolsohn. “Captain Marvel” is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

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DC’s ‘Shazam!’ Makes a ‘Big’ First Impression in Comic-Con Trailer (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The original Captain Marvel is finally hitting movie screens next April, but you don’t have to wait that long to see for yourself if the Big Red Cheese is ready for the big time — the first trailer for “Shazam!” debuted during the Warner Bros. Hall H Comic-Con panel Saturday morning. And you can watch it here, right now.

Directed by “Lights Out” filmmaker David F. Sandberg from a script by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke, “Shazam!” stars Zachary Levi in the title role, with Asher Angel as Shazam’s alter-ego Billy Batson. Created by C.C. Beck and writer Bill Parker for Fawcett comics in 1940, “Shazam,” originally called “Captain Marvel,” follows the adventures of teenager Billy Batson, who can transform into a full-grown adult superhero with the power of six gods after saying “Shazam!” Think “Big” meets “Batman and Robin.”

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Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, Grace Fulton, Cooper Andrews and Ian Chen also star, with Djimon Hounsou as The Wizard, the powerful mystic who gives Shazam/Billy his powers.

And for those of you asking, yes, he really is the first hero called Captain Marvel, debuting 20 years before Marvel Comics existed as a brand. Fawcett Comics was sued by DC in the early 1950s over claims that “Captain Marvel” ripped off “Superman,” and went temporarily out of business after it agreed never to publish the character’s comics again. However, in 1972 DC licensed “Captain Marvel” from Fawcett and brought the character into the DC universe.

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But during the intervening decades, Marvel realized the trademark on the name “Captain Marvel” had lapsed, and introduced its own character of the same name. Which is why, to avoid legal problems, DC called its re-launched comic book “Shazam” and eventually changed the character’s name outright.

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Djimon Hounsou to Play The Wizard in DC’s ‘Shazam!’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Djimon Hounsou will play the 3,000-year-old Wizard in DC’s “Shazam!”, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

In the comic book, the Wizard gives young Billy Batson his powers. Production has wrapped, so this casting was clearly kept under wraps. “This Is Us” actor Ron Cephas Jones was previously reported to have been cast in the role.

This isn’t the first time Hounsou will have a role in a superhero film — he played the Kree mercenary Korath the Pursuer in “Guardians of the Galaxy” as well as the upcoming “Captain Marvel.”

See Photo : Zachary Levi Offers Up First Official Look at ‘Shazam’ Costume

Hounsou’s other credits including “Amistrad, “Gladiator,” “Furious 7,” “The Legend of Tarzan” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” He is represented by Elevate Artist Management, The Safran Company and CAA.

“Shazam” is directed by “Lights Out” filmmaker David F. Sandberg from a script written by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke. Production wrapped in May in Toronto.

The film will star Zachary Levi as the titular character, as well as Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Grace Fulton, Cooper Andrews and Ian Chen.

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Shazam, who was first introduced into DC Comics in 1939, is an acronym of the ancient world gods and historical figures — Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury — from whom William Joseph “Billy” Batson’s alter ego derives his heroic attributes when in adult form.

Warner Bros. will release “Shazam!” on April 5, 2019.

Entertainment Weekly first reported the news.

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Shazam! conjures up Djimon Hounsou to play its 3,000-year-old Wizard

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Given that we’ve had multiple updates from DC, Warner Bros., and New Line about how the upcoming superhero film Shazam! is basically going to knit everyone in America a sweater made of smiles to make sure you know how family-friendly and light-hearted …

Matthew McConaughey Goes Shirtless Again in ‘Serenity’ Thriller Trailer (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Matthew McConaughey returns to his shirtless beach-bum ways in the first trailer for the upcoming thriller “Serenity.”

The Oscar winner stars opposite a blond Anne Hathaway in the tropically set movie, written and directed by Steven Knight (whose last movie was the Tom Hardy solo effort “Locke”).

McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a fishing boat captain leading tours off a tranquil, tropical enclave called Plymouth Island until his ex-wife, Karen (Hathaway), tracks him down with a desperate plea for help.

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She begs Dill to save her — and their young son — from her new, violent husband (Jason Clarke) by taking him out to sea on a fishing excursion, only to throw him to the sharks and leave him for dead.

Karen’s appearance thrusts Dill back into a life he’d tried to forget, and as he struggles between right and wrong, his world is plunged into a new reality that may not be all that it seems.

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The cast also includes Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

Guy Heeley and Greg Shapiro produced.

Aviron Pictures, the new indie distributor that bowed last summer with the Halle Berry thriller “Kidnap,” plans to release the film in theaters on October 19.

Watch the trailer above.

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Djimon Hounsou, Clark Gregg Join ‘Captain Marvel’ Cast

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Marvel Studios announced on Monday that production has begun on the MCU’s first female-fronted entry, “Captain Marvel,” which will star Brie Larson as the titular superheroine.

But tucked into the announcement was the reveal that “Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace will also be a part of the film — as will Clark Gregg, who will reprise his role as Agent Coulson from “Avengers” movies as well as ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.”

In the first “Guardians” film, Pace played the film’s villain, Ronan the Accuser, with Hounsou playing one of his most formidable warriors, Korath the Pursuer. While their roles in “Captain Marvel” haven’t been made official, the upcoming film takes place in the 1990s, so it is possible that the two actors could reprise their characters from several years before they faced the Guardians.

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“Captain Marvel” follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the MCU’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

The cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson, who will return as a pre-eyepatch Nick Fury. Ben Mendelsohn, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, Algenis Perez Soto, Rune Temte, McKenna Grace and Jude Law also star.

“Mississippi Grind” directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are directing the film from a script they co-wrote with some of the top women writers in Hollywood: “Inside Out” writer Meg LeFauve, “Guardians of the Galaxy” co-writer Nicole Perlman, “Tomb Raider” writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and “GLOW” creators Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch.

“Captain Marvel” hits theaters March 8, 2019.

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Read on: Deadline.

Marvel announced that cameras are rolling on Captain Marvel today in Los Angeles for a March 8, 2019 release.
Agent Coulson aka Clark Gregg who died off in the movies some time ago, but resurfaced on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a new addition in the cast along with Lee Pace who will reprise his Guardians of the Galaxy role of Ronan the Accuser, and Djimon Hounsou who will once again portray Korath the Pursuer, a mercenary who works with Ronan.
Production will shoot in…

Miami Film Review: ‘In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven’

Read on: Variety.

We’re overdue a substantial documentary on Voodoo, an intricate, specific, sociologically complex belief system that, in common parlance, has long been relegated to common-noun status — unfairly denoting a shadowy realm of imaginary mumbo-jumbo propagated by pulp fiction and B-movies. Beninese actor Djimon Hounsou takes it upon himself to set the record straight in “In […]

‘Same Kind of Different as Me’ Review: Renee Zellweger Brings Grace to Faith-Based True Story

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Evangelical Christian filmmaking is having a moment. After the surprise box office success of “God’s Not Dead,” the dam broke and the product has flowed freely, more or less divided into two content streams: insular, badly-made, confirmation-bias movies for the faithful (which, somewhat ironically, are often explicitly created to function as tools for evangelization), and less pointed stories of kindness, forgiveness, and supernatural miracles that feature movie stars more relevant than Kevin Sorbo.

“Same Kind of Different as Me,” based on a true story, is the latter, and, graded on the competency curve many of these films flatly fail to live up to, a reasonably welcome addition to the flock.

Deborah Hall (Renee Zellweger) had a dream that she would meet a wise man on a road, and that he would change her life. And when Hall encountered Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou), a homeless man who frequented a Fort Worth, Dallas, shelter where she volunteered, she became convinced that he was that man. Enlisting her husband Ron (Greg Kinnear), an art dealer who worked alongside Hall at the shelter, the couple actively sought Moore’s friendship. That process, its complications, and the consequences it spawned, became the basis of a best-selling memoir written by Ron Hall and Moore after Deborah’s death from cancer.

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Moore, a former sharecropper, resisted the Halls’ advances for months, justifiably suspicious of their intent. After being dragged down a Southern dirt road as a teenager by white men angry that he had tried to help a white woman with car trouble, he vowed never again to have anything to do with any white person. But slowly the Halls earn a modicum of Moore’s trust, and together they transform the homeless shelter into a more highly functioning location of service for the poor.

Director Michael Carney, making his feature debut and working from a script he co-wrote with Alexander Foard and Ron Hall, has delivered a blandly good looking, no frills, reasonably competent and occasionally emotional Message Movie, one whose message falls directly in line with politically moderate contemporary Evangelical thought. It emphasizes being nice, charitable, and forgiving. It favors a color-blind approach to race relations, one designed to work entirely in favor of the desires of white people, and which is expressed in the film as Good White People quietly delivering argument-ending responses to random Bad Racist White People (one of whom is played a little too convincingly by Jon Voight).

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Most importantly, though, its approach to the subject of eradicating poverty is one predicated on the largesse of the rich (one of the first things we learn about the Halls is that they live in a 15,000-square-foot house). Is it nice when wealthy people give money to fund a new homeless shelter? Of course, says the movie. Would it be better in the long run for people of faith to advocate for a truly radical rethinking of economic justice and to adopt as a mission of Christian work the idea that permanent housing is a basic human right? Look, ingrate, we don’t talk about that sort of thing here.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” works more effectively when its talented cast is given freedom to engage on an interpersonal level and its various political subtexts are sidelined (and they almost always are, save for an offhand dig at the “shock art” of contemporary photographer Andres Serrano, whose “Piss Christ” was the cause of a well known conservative Evangelical freakout back in the late 1980s). Kinnear has turned being crinkly, warm, and sadly sympathetic into his go-to trick, and his scenes with Zellweger are tender and believable.

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Zellweger, in fact, delivers a gentle, thoughtful, yet headstrong performance as the wife who digs in her heels to get human decency out of the people she cares for the most. Carney allows them their shot at making everything feel believably human. He doesn’t know how to extend that same generosity to Hounsou, unfortunately. The actor stumbles over his dialect, which seems to vary from scene to scene, and he’s directed to a performance that dances right up to the uncomfortable — and again, unspoken — edge of mental health issues.

Fairly abruptly, the character of Moore softens up, quiets down, becomes the wise man of Deborah’s dream, complete with profound monologues about the human condition, and transforms into a comfortably manageable person whose real problem seems to be an angry, unforgiving spirit that merely needed an adamant dose of Christian love to make it better. He’s a grudge-holding angel in disguise, too different to understand, even if the film keeps insisting that we’re all the same in the end.

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‘Same Kind Of Different As Me’ Trailer: Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger & Djimon Hounsou Lean Into Uplift

Read on: Deadline.

The new full-length trailer for Pure Flix’s faith-based fall release Same Kind of Different as Me showcases the film’s three stars — Greg Kinnear, Renée Zellweger and Djimon Hounsou, in an uplifting tease for the film’s long-delayed October 20 release.
Directed by Michael Carney, the film is an adaptation of the bestselling book based on the true story of art dealer Ron Hall (Kinnear), who befriends a homeless man named Denver Moore (Housou) in the hope of saving his…

Charlie Hunnam Says at ‘King Arthur’ Premiere That ‘Excalibur’ Inspired His Filmmaking Journey

Read on: Variety.

Hollywood transformed into Britain in the Middle Ages on Monday night at the world premiere of Warner Bros.’ “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” at the TCL Chinese. Charlie Hunnam fondly recalled watching John Boorman’s 1981 film “Excalibur” as a young boy growing up in England. “I watched it about 15 times when I was six or… Read more »

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ Review: Guy Ritchie’s Excesses Put the ‘A Lot’ in Camelot

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Schoolteachers who want to bust students for watching Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” instead of doing the reading should be on the lookout for phrases like “kaiju elephants,” “martial-arts training” and “snake-bite hallucinations” in future book reports.

This is not your father’s Camelot legend, as “King Arthur” proclaims from scene to scene, and whether or not you embrace this jacked-up take on the once and future king will rely entirely on your tolerance for Ritchie’s filmmaking at its most caffeinated. There are quick cuts and CG imagery and bro-ing out in nearly equal proportions; I found some of this excess to be heady and exciting, but by the end of the film’s running time, it all became a bit tiresome, to say nothing of tiring.

What Ritchie (and fellow screenwriters Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram) offer here is a remix of the Arthurian legend, playing around with the chronology and sampling bits of other origin stories, from Moses (orphaned baby Arthur is set adrift down the Thames on a raft) to “Batman Begins” (as a child, he’s trained in the martial arts by the one Asian guy in all of Londinium, a character the film actually refers to as “Kung Fu George,” played by Tom Wu of “Marco Polo”).

Watch Video: ‘King Arthur’ Trailer Features Buff Charlie Hunnam and Lots of Swordplay

Arthur’s childhood is handled in a montage that shows Ritchie at his French-New-Wave-on-speed best, a series of smackdowns and humiliations that build the child to grow from victim to a full-grown prince of thieves. Once the character matures into Charlie Hunnam (sporting the same mildly-perturbed expression that made up the bulk of his “Lost City of Z” performance), he’s strong and savvy, standing apart in the grimy London streets and cutting a figure in ecru casual separates.

(The movie accentuates the relative brightness of his wardrobe with an overhead shot of Arthur in a packed barge, surrounded by people in brown and black. One is reminded of a line from a superior version of this tale, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” in which a peasant observes that Arthur “must be a king” because “he hasn’t got s–t all over him.”)

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Perfectly happy as a scoundrel, Arthur’s life takes a turn when he pulls legendary magic sword Excalibur out of the stone, putting him at odds with evil king Vortigem (Jude Law); uncle Vortigem once studied with evil wizard Mordred before murdering Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) to take the throne. Uther’s allies Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and William (Aidan Gillen), with the help of a supportive and unnamed mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”), push Arthur into leading their revolution, although in true Joseph Campbell style, this reluctant hero refuses over and over before finally accepting his destiny.

Ritchie and his regular editor James Herbert cut up the action scenes with the desperation of the life of the party who’s secretly afraid to go home to his empty apartment. “King Arthur” seems constantly panicked that the audience’s attention span won’t last another second, so each moment is a frenzy of sight and sound (particularly Daniel Pemberton’s emphatically percussive score), and the ultimate effect is more exhausting than exhilarating.

At one point, the director even straps GoPro cameras to his actors as they run through the streets, so they’ll stay static in the frame while the background jostles by; the exact same shot pops up in the new comedy “Snatched,” only played for laughs. (If Robert Bresson’s “Lancelot of the Lake” has an antithesis, “King Arthur” is it.)

Amidst the frantic cutting, Ritchie keeps loading on the phallic imagery: Arthur’s power derives from his sword, while Vortigem must be stopped from completing his tall, tall tower. And then there are the constant snakes: some challenge Arthur or provide him with hallucinogenic venom, while Vortigem receives advice from a group of serpent women who appear to have swum in from “The Little Mermaid.”

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This isn’t an actor’s movie, although Law does at least find a few moments to play Vortigem like a preening Mussolini, shouting at the assembled masses while swathed in fur and eagle-head epaulets. Otherwise, the characters are there to move the story along and to be consistently heroic or villainous throughout.

In a sense, Arthur — aristocrat by nature, thug by nurture — is the ideal Ritchie hero; the filmmaker’s lineage can be traced back to Edward I, but he’s spent most of his directing career celebrating small-time gangsters (“Snatch,” “RocknRolla”) and backing the proletariat in the class struggle (“Swept Away”).

If you like Guy Ritchie in blam-blam-blam mode, then “King Arthur” will be your grail of mead; those who prefer his work on a film like “The Man from UNCLE” — which feels like “My Dinner with Andre” compared to the hyperkineticism on display here — may find that there’s too much “a lot” in this Camelot.

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21 ‘Fast and Furious’ Villains Ranked, From Deckard Shaw to Dom in ‘Fate’ (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The “Fast & Furious” franchise is full of villains. They range from street thugs and high school bullies to a criminal mastermind hacker bent on firing nukes at developed countries. Here are all the villains of “Fast & Furious” in order of just how effective, frightening and evil they can be.

21. Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan)
The rich jerk who gets “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” protagonist Sean (Lucas Black) sent off to Tokyo. Clay is a preppy bully throwing around his family’s money, and that makes it easy to really hate him. But he’s ultimately a nobody who disappears into the franchise’s background.

20. Johnny Tran (Rick Yune)
As far as villains go, Johnny is more of a bully with a murdery streak than some of the hardened criminal overlords that show up in later movies. Johnny’s a guy who loses his temper and kills someone who insults him, because he’s actually just a big child. It’s telling that in the big climax of the movie, he’s literally Dom’s righteous wrath.

19. Takashi, AKA “Drift King” (Brian Tee)
Another young hooligan with ties to organized crime, Takashi is mostly just a rich bully who doesn’t like being insulted. He was originally responsible for Han’s death, which made him a super jerk, but he’s ultimately not the real power in the picture — that honor goes to Takashi’s uncle, the Yakuza boss played by Sonny Chiba.

18. Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou)
Jakande is the guy secret agent Mr. Nobody is battling through the course of “Furious 7.” An extremely well-outfitted terrorist warlord who Dom says was priming to torture Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) for information about the God’s Eye device, his relatively low amount of screen time means he takes a serious back seat to the infinitely badder Deckard Shaw.

17. Kara (Ronda Rousey)
Kara isn’t really a bad guy, but she is an antagonist — she’s the bodyguard of the Jordanian prince whose supercar hides the God’s Eye chip in “Furious 7.” When the team breaks into the prince’s penthouse (and Dom winds up jumping the car through three Dubai skyscrapers), Letty is pitted against Kara in one of the best fist-fights of the series.

16. Agent Riley Hicks (Gina Carano)
Shaw nearly managed to escape a key moment in “Fast & Furious 6” thanks to Hicks. A member of the Diplomatic Security Service with Hobbs and part of the team going after Shaw, she turns out to be a traitor. It’s a bummer that leads to a big fight at the end of the movie, with Hicks getting what’s coming to her care of Letty.

15. Carter Verone (Cole Hauser)
Cole Hauser just has “extremely, frighteningly evil” on lockdown. Even though Carter is a bit of a bumbling criminal mastermind who seems to hire idiots to work for him, he sells the fact that if you cross him and he catches you, horrific torture will ensue. He might not be the most together villain, but he’s definitely one of the most frightening and unhinged.

14. Enrique and Roberto (Mo Gallini and Roberto Sanchez)
Carter Verone’s slightly dopey henchmen are great at looking mean and threatening to put bullets in the heads of Brian (Paul Walker) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson), but that’s about all they’re good for. Roberto gets dealt with pretty ingeniously when Roman pops him out of his car with a NOS-fueled ejector seat, and the heroes manage to take down Enrique together.

13. Kamata (Sonny Chiba)
Yakuza boss uncle to Takashi, Kamata balances being a frightening gangster willing to kill people for disrespect with the kind of guy who honors his debts. He lets Lucas Black’s Sean race for the right to stay in Tokyo rather than be banished, but the fact that he even banishes people from cities, as a gangster, is pretty cool. He’s the honor-among-thieves type, which sets him apart from a lot of the overtly evil “Fast & Furious” villains.

12. Zizi (Michael Irby)
Reyes’ lieutenant is the guy usually holding the reins of any number of gun-toting goons, but doesn’t have much character besides. He’s a decent commander who’s great at leaving his men to die while narrowly escaping. He leads the group that takes down Hobbs’ team and is responsible for the death of Vince (Matt Schulze).

11. Owen Shaw’s Team
The anti-crew is a group of fast-driving special ops soldiers that give a dark take on Don’s family. But they’re largely not too notable. That’s largely because Shaw has no loyalty to them. They’re parts you switch out until you get the job done, he says, and when faced with the family, they can’t hang.

10. Owen Shaw (Luke Evans)
There’s something utilitarian about Owen Shaw that keeps him from being especially frightening. He’s super-capable, sure, and maybe he’s a match for Dom’s crew in a lot of respects, but he’s still just a well-funded mercenary. He’s skilled, but not especially frightening.

9. Arturo Braga (John Ortiz)
The tricksy Braga manages to divert trick everyone into thinking he’s not really the big bad guy of the movie. He’s got a big mouth and a policy of murdering people who work for him, but doesn’t really do much on his own — he leaves that up to his enforcer, Fenix.

8. Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida)
Drug lord Reyes is such a big deal, he basically runs Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. He’s bulletproof, most of the cops are on his payroll, and he’s willing to murder anyone he wants, including international law enforcement officers like Hobbs’ team. Reyes insane amount of influence makes him a big obstacle, but he doesn’t spend enough time on screen to make too much of an impression.

7. Fenix Calderon (Laz Alonso)
The guy blamed for killing Letty (although he didn’t, actually), he gets Dom’s full wrath for most of “Fast & Furious.” Fenix is the hopelessly loyal Braga triggerman who also has a sadistic streak. He’s thrilled to have murdered Letty, which is why he earns getting t-boned between two cars at the end of the movie.

6. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez)
Amnesiac, mean, and a member of Owen Shaw’s crew, Letty is a major foil for the crew in “Fast & Furious 6.” She’s obviously a blind spot for Dom, but at the same time, Letty’s a bad-ass fighter enough to make you think she might actually put a bullet in a member of the family just on principle while she can’t remember who they are. They eventually save her, but for a while there, Letty’s a formidable loose cannon and a seriously threatening merc.

5. Rhodes (Kristofer Hivju)
Cipher’s enforcer Rhodes rates first and foremost because of a cold-blooded execution he commits in front of Dom. He’s a big, frightening dude otherwise, but while he’s a jerkbag murderer, he doesn’t manage to be much more than Cipher’s lacky.

4. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
When Dom turns to the dark side in “Fate of the Furious,” he’s a formidable opponent. He knocks his team off the road, flips their cars, evades their pursuit, and even acts like he might shoot them. Dom’s dangerous and nearly unstoppable, but nobody ever quite believes he’d really go bad.

3. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson)
Sure, he joins Dom and the crew before too long, but for a while there, Hobbs is the unstoppable force that could finally be the real end of the family. As a law-and-order strongman, The Rock is a wrecking crew that’s always just an inch away from catching everyone and ruining everything. And when he says he’s coming for Toretto at the end of “Fast Five,” you believe he’s extremely serious.

2. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)
There’s something to be said for a guy who legitimately looks like he could kick The Rock’s ass. Deckard’s single-minded willingness to wreak all manner of havoc is overcome only by his badassery.This is the guy who sought out and murdered Han just to send a message. Deckard is the king of “Fast” villains not because he’s the most evil, but because he has the best shot of actually winning.

1. Cipher (Charlize Theron)
Thanks to some creative retconning, it turns out that Cipher has actually been the villain orchestrating things from behind the scenes maybe as far back as “Fast & Furious,” the fourth movie in the franchise. She’s willing to ruin all kinds of lives to get what she wants, and she’s the first “F&F” villain who could really do some damage, and it takes the crew to save the world.