Monday, April 08, 2019

This Week in Tickets: 1 April 2019 - 7 April 2019

Huh. That "go to movie, come home, watch west-coast baseball game" plan didn't result in me seeing a lot of film this week. Go figure.

This Week in Tickets

I was able to make it to the Brattle for High Life on Monday, feeling a little bad (but not really) about walking right past everyone who had apparently been waiting since before I got out of work to see Claire Denis, but, hey, I just re-upped my Brattle & IFFBoston memberships tonight,and that's what did it. It's worth noting, I guess, that for all that I occasionally see comments about how only seniors go to boutique theaters, that wasn't the crowd for this one.

For the next couple of days, I had food in the fridge I didn't want to go bad as I was eating concession stand food, but I also had to make a dent in my DVR, which is running 97% full these days, and I really ought to figure out what shows I'm behind on and which ones I no longer watch. I wound up being kind of caught flat-footed that P Storm got a no-kidding Thursday release, with shows all day rather than just a couple evening previews the night before. It's a fun-enough little Hong Kong thriller, the fourth in a series whose makers have already committed to "G Storm", and I've got to admit that I probably enjoyed it a little more because of my recent vacation there, but since I wanted to go in large part because I like Hong Kong movies, it comes full circle.

I planned to see more movies over the weekend, but between feeling sluggish from all those nights staying up late watching the Red Sox lose and the MBTA deciding to run buses instead of trains on three routes made that tricky - I wound up having to switch theaters when it became clear I wouldn't get to Shazam! in time for the 3D show I'd booked, and then on Sunday an hour and a half wasn't enough time to get to the Coolidge in time for The Wind. Maybe Tuesday.

If so, what I think will probably be on my Letterboxd page first, even if there is a big festival-sized hole there I need to fill in.


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 7 April 2019 in Regal Fenway #9 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

For the longest time, this movie seems to exist because Warner wants to crank out superhero movies at something approaching the same rate Marvel does, Billy Batson is one of their most recognizable characters, and they've been planning it so long that it's acquired a sort of inevitability. There's not really a whole lot new to say here, with a lot of things seeming to happen because the film has reached the point where those things happen, not because it seems like the inevitable next step. Despite having one of the best hooks in comics and one of the best sets of core villains, the movie is a full slog of half-developed ideas to modernize the concept, Mark Strong going through the motions as the villain who is nothing but his designed-to-be-relatable origin story, and blandly nasty-looking monsters which are vicious enough to scare kids but don't evoke the sins they're supposed to in particular and kind of indistinct (they're almost never seen well-lit).

On the other hand, it's got Zachary Levi, who injects a ton of energy into a version of the character that's all "kid in an adult body" without much of the Wisdom Of Solomon. Levi and Asher Angel, who plays the kid who can become Captain Marvel Shazam by saying the magic word, don't really evoke each other much, but they each do well at what they are going for and Jack Dylan Grazer winds up being the secret MVP in making that work; his Freddy Freeman is paired up with both and serves as the connective tissue the movie needs.

The filmmakers are also really smart to focus on the Marvel Family aspect, because the foster parents and siblings that Billy picks up are more or less instantly delightful, and the way it pays off feels like the best possible inversion of a superhero trope. Recent superhero movies and shows have often tried to move past the silliness of lying to protect one's loved ones, but don't really explode it like this one does, even though the secret identity is one of the most fun. It's a nice surprise for a movie that has spent a lot of time being stunningly casual about its comic-book world but only really clever in that last act.

(Also, I know the planned spinoff is Dwayne Johnson as the not-yet-truly-introduced Black Adam, but the one I want right now is one with Faithe Herman & Meagan Good. Heck, build some comics around them, too!)

High Life
P Storm

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