Well, that was about a thousand times better than I expected. I took our son to see this because I’ve always had a soft spot for the Big Red Cheese, and even he wasn’t all that thrilled about the idea. But this turned out to be an incredibly charming movie with more surprises than superhero movies typically have and he loved it. About which, if you’re on the fence, you should probably get into a theater before you take your next trip down the toy department at Target, or to the next cosplay-friendly comic con.
Some of it’s a little by-the-numbers, sure. It’s practically a Marvel movie with another company’s characters, to the extent that I spotted something that was there in the 1974 scene and wasn’t there when we returned to the location in the present day, and figured “Well, that’s the mid-ending credits scene,” and was not wrong. But it also throws out several very fun surprises, including a delightful wink and a hat tip to that place where Mike and Sully worked in Monsters, Inc.
Our son said that he liked this every bit as much as Captain Marvel. So there’s your “who wins” argument settled: it’s a tie.
Interestingly, they seem to go back and forth between calling the hero of this film either “Shazam” or “Champion” within the narrative, since DC/Warners ceded ownership of his previous name. I like how Billy and Freddie’s inability to come up with a name for him is actually a plot point. Anyway, the movie stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson and Zachary Levi as Shazam, or Captain Sparklefingers, or the Red Cyclone, or something, and John Glover gets to continue his strange career as the father of evil supervillains. I hope you can see it before too much gets spoiled.
Image credit: Heroic Hollywood
The larger stories on either side of the very small gag in the middle were both entertaining, but they also really lacked any kind of twist or oomph at the end. So this wasn’t an entirely satisfying hour of The Twilight Zone, but it had a few entertaining moments for the grownups. Our son was pretty indifferent to the show, honestly. He sort of shrugged about all three.
Since the meatier stories kind of fumbled with the payoffs, the gag story might be the best of the three. It’s co-written by Alan Brennert and Carter Scholz and features John Glover as an alien ambassador disillusioned by our planet’s capacity for war. “Monsters!” features Ralph Bellamy as an old vampire who doesn’t exhibit any of the traits or weaknesses of vampires that the stories claim, much to the confusion of a kid who loves horror movies. “A Matter of Minutes,” written by Rockne S. O’Bannon from a story by Theodore Sturgeon, suggests that time works in a very weird way: each individual minute is a separate space entirely, and it’s constantly being built by crews of silent blue-clad workmen in anticipation of the humans who will populate it that space for all of sixty seconds.
Despite some fantastic visuals, and a terrific explanation of what causes people to lose their keys every so often, “A Matter of Minutes” acts like it has a threat at its core and a malevolent reason why a young couple played by Adam Arkin and Karen Austin can never go back to real time after skipping ahead four hours. But there’s no payoff, and consequently no reason why the orange-clad crew boss should be concerned about what they’ve seen. Maybe they ran out of time. *grin
“Monsters!” fumbled its ending even worse, but I decided to quibble more about the horror trivia. First, that kid is way too young to have seen EVERY Hammer films even once, let alone six times. Not because there are so many, but because that must be the most irresponsible dad on the planet to show a middle schooler Demons of the Mind and To the Devil… a Daughter. And honestly, if you’re going to get that nerdy about the release date of The Crawling Eye, you should call it The Trollenberg Terror!
(That film is awesome, by the way. I’ve always loved it.)
Today’s feature was a gift from Marie’s brother Karl and we really appreciate it! If you would like to support this blog, you can buy us a DVD of a movie that we’d like to watch one day. We’ll be happy to give you a shout-out and link to the site of your choice when we write about it. Here’s our wishlist!
Going back (again) to the first Captain America movie, I was disappointed that we didn’t see nearly enough of the Howling Commandos. This afternoon’s episode goes a long way toward rectifying that, as Peggy calls on the Commandos to assist in the SSR’s raid on a facility behind the Iron Curtain. The episode features Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, who we met in the movie, but the other characters, while all from the original comics, are new to the show. When I was a kid, I enjoyed Pinky Pinkerton the most among the Commandos. Nice to see him here!
Dum Dum comes up with a new code name for Peggy, hoping to entice her to stay in Europe: “Miss Union Jack.” She flies back to New York.
The raid doesn’t find any evidence for Howard Stark being involved with Leviathan, but they do get a glimpse of something very weird going on. The audience has a big lead over our heroes in this: we can guess that this is one of the facilities where Russian intelligence services train women like the Black Widow, and learn that they’ve been doing it since at least 1937.
We paused it quite early on to make sure that our son understood the implications of that flashback, especially since a graduate of that program is active in New York in 1946. We also gave him a quick introduction to the concepts of the Iron Curtain and a glass ceiling, so he’d understand the implications of the title. Sadly, most of this was way over his head, and he probably didn’t pay much attention at all to a scene where guest star John Glover introduces some new intel about a hushed-up wartime incident. Overall, this was a pleasantly complex hour even if he wasn’t completely thrilled. Happily, there was one great gunfight to keep him interested.