scene was filmed; meaning, you never know if what you're about to see is going to be good or bad.
Let's focus on the good for a second. This movie is funny. There are so many jokes that land, and some land hard. If you thought Deadpool was funny, this takes the cake in a lot of ways. The best thing about the comedy is that it doesn't need to stoop to meta jokes or breaking the fourth wall; all the funny bits were contextual to the story and were pretty well delivered by the actors. There were a few on the nose references that were tasteful but the rest were truly well constructed.
Another thing that really worked about the movie was Zachary Levi as Shazam. He did a great job carrying the film with Jack Dylan Grazer, who played his friend Freddy. Their chemistry was spot on and perfectly replicated the relationship of Josh and Billy from Big. The rest of the cast was fine, but the other standout was Mark Strong who plays the villain. He is a really great working actor who tends to steal scenes from the movies he's been in and this is no exception. The characterizations that each actor embodies were pitch perfect and I didn't really have a complaint with the child actors.
But as I said before, there is a lot holding this movie back. Not only the low-budget locations but especially towards the start, I feel like I'm watching an ugly indie. This problem works in tandem with another problem that bookends the film. The ending, more specifically the weak second act break and entire third act, do this picture a real disservice. Up until this point, I could describe Shazam! as a rough around the edges, good time at the movies. With the ending included, it feels like it just committed suicide, it's that bad. I could forgive the drawn out and boring action scenes at first, but when that's the only thing you see for 10 minutes, it really got on my nerves.
Other than some weird music transition choices and cheap camera tricks to sell superpowers, the movie is fine. While the lows of Shazam! really hurt, it honestly does a great job at making you have fun. Unlike other mediocre movies, this one has highs, mountains that loom over the low points unlike contemporary Captain Marvel which is content being middling throughout. Its overall low quality is a sore point though as I wish some of the budget wasted on the ending was put back into making it a more well-rounded movie.
I feel like I was overly harsh on this movie in some aspects. Its funny, hands down. It makes you laugh, it has those touching family moments, and it doesn't overreach with its special effects. I think the shock of the scale of the movie really got to me, but once you accept that fact, there is a lot to enjoy. Its third act still sucks hard and has a sprinkling of problems throughout but I wanted to reconcile that this movie rises above.
Wasn't Big enough and fell apart by the end
An area of the movie that is not great is the story. The trailers led you to believe a situation is happening to a family, this I have no problem with. I went to go see a movie about creepy clones attacking normal people and instead I got... hand holding. Everything about the movie is great until you reach the end of the second act. At that moment, it asks the audience to provide a reason for the events happening. It was here that the story starts to unravel, but I was still enjoying it. My complete disappointment did stem from the fact that there were no real answers given. Jordan Peele has admitted that he doesn't have any answers for the questions he presented, nor does the story really represent anything.
I have to give a big shout out to "I Got 5 On It", the song for the trailer, acting as the theme song for the movie. I always love when a movie has an anthem, and since the song was played multiple times, it definitely fulfilled its role. So great choice even deciding for this movie to have one.
One aspect of the movie I thought we had gotten over in the film industry is stupid people in horror movies. Get Out had a little bit of this, but there is so much of this here. There were so many moments I wondered why characters did things that shouldn't be done when someone is trying to kill you. There were also many instances where the attackers didn't kill the victims when they were actively trying to murder. In this respect, the movie felt padded out annoying.
Us proves that Jordan Peele is a capable director, able to come up with interesting ideas. His presentation is clean and is able to get great actors to provide amazing performances. One of my favorite things that it's not immediately noticeable is that the father in this movie is played by Winston Duke, M'Baku from Black Panther. Other than some pretty annoying aspects, this is a good enough movie.
The twist is basically useless
The whole point of these scenes is to make you laugh. Sure, not all the jokes land, but it works. The Captain Marvel specific humor had me suspicious of what their intent was. Towards the beginning, there were many moments that were supposed to be funny, but no one in my theater laughed. It came across as trying to get the audience on board with having a female as the main character.
There are seldom moments in superhero movies where the character is made to look inexperienced or foolish. In Iron Man, he invents his own stuff and you see him have fun testing out his new technology. Thor smashes a beer mug because he is from a different culture and Star-Lord gets called fat to build up how ripped Thor is. Carol Danvers is silly and lighthearted while fighting enemies. Struggling to fight effectively with a couple of gags thrown in for good measure, but these were the parts no one laughed at. It came off as slightly uncomfortable because jokes should tell you more about the character; here, it was used to try and make her seem more relatable. Carol Danvers is a lot of things, but relatable is not one of them.
The story that Captain Marvel tries to tell, doesn't recognize the big shoes it has been told to fill. How do you get excited about the 21st entry in a series; how about a bunch of throwbacks? This movie suffers from a problem the Star Wars Prequels suffered from, but was more potent in Solo: A Star Wars Story. I didn’t need to know where Han Solo got his lucky dice or the spoiler version of that for this movie. I don't need to see how every little detail came to be in the universe. Every little unknown doesn't need an answer.
Speaking of Star Wars, there were a couple of sequences that reminded me of the prequels. At one point, I thought I was watching a pod racing scene while another was similar to the shortest space battle ever put in a big budget movie. The battle consisted of about two shots, one of which is in the trailer, while the other makes me think of the space battle above Naboo.
To pull off all of these action pieces, lots of CG was used to varying degrees of success. By the end, there were many scenes that looked fake; there was no denying the whole sequence you were seeing was all made in a computer. When the characters got to fight in person, the beginning of the movie used the ‘far away’ trick. This is where you see all the action at a distance, so stunt performers can perform without putting the talent in harm's way. This allows for separate close up shots to be spliced into the sequence, making it seem like the actor was really doing the fight choreography.
Other than some good jokes and some nice synth music, Captain Marvel doesn't succeed in being a good movie. I saw it on opening night where people would be the most excited to see it, and everyone thought that it was fine. Not "wow that was good" or "that was solid", just fine. Some people will complain that Carol Danvers didn't grow as a character, but I didn't need that. Learning more about the character was discovery enough, and Nick Fury picks up more slack than one person should be allowed to carry. This movie continues the trend of Marvel just not caring about fan theories, providing little fan service. Any major effects you thought this movie might have on the larger MCU continuity should be forgotten.
Wonder Woman was a better character in a better movie, DC finally won one