Tag Archives: David F. Sandberg

Shazam (2019) Movie Review By The Movie Couple

Shazam! Review, We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson's case, by shouting out one word - SHAZAM. - this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.

Director: David F. Sandberg
Writers: Henry Gayden (screenplay by), Henry Gayden (story by)
Stars: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel

Movie Couple here!  We saw Shazam! this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.

Mrs. Movie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Shazam the latest in a strong run of comic book movies, known from this point on as CBMs, is the latest in the DCEU or DC comics line of movies.  It follows in the footsteps of Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman (I know I left out Justice League and Suicide Squad, it wasn’t a mistake). Based on the creation of CC Beck in 1939, Shazam features the origin and adventures of Billy Batson, who with the utterance of a magic word, transforms into a super powerful adult version of himself!  Ironically, in the 30’s and for a long time in publication history Billy’s alter ego was called Captain Marvel way before a young woman named Carol was going by that name at Marvel Studios.

Much to the shagrin of many comic book fans on the internet, that is neither here nor there, just an interesting tidbit.  So much like the comic before it, but with a few modern updates, we learn of the orphan Billy, The Wizard Shazam, his foster family and of course Dr Sivanna and the Seven deadly Sins incarnate!  This film stars Zachary Levi as Shazam! (The hero not the Wizard, that can get confusing) Mark Strong as Dr Sivanna, Asher Angel as Billy, Djimon Hounsou as The Wizard and a fantastic cast of child actors as Billy’s foster family (Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ian Chen, and Jovan Armand).  The family all need to be listed because they all are so good!  Directed by David S. Sandberg perhaps best known for his horror flicks.  Surprise, surprise!  So plot be damned, Kid, Magic, Superhero, Super villain, Evil incarnate!  Do I have to tell you more?  We are not here to spoil any plot.  That is all you should need to know going in!  So did we like it?  Say the word and find out!  Shazam!

So here we go!

Mr. Movie Couple:  I had a blast!   The advertisement for this film is pushing the “Big” meets “Superman” angle and there is no debating that is a big (no pun intended) part of the film, but there is so much more than that!  The superhero is the big sell, but this is first and foremost a family film at heart.  And its a great one!  The message of being selfless, and what a family truly is and the many forms it can take are deep and special in this movie.  It conveys it’s message without a sledgehammer and still provides a really good super hero movie at the same time.  The kids are all written and acted perfectly in this film, but the foster parents are also a great movie couple that need to be spoken of as well.  The foster parents are a mixed and diverse couple as are most of the children in the home.  Again, which makes for a really excellent example for all the kids that are going to see his film.  The humour is perfect and not forced, like a certain other superhero movie that will not be named right now.

Zachary Levi absolutely owns the role of the adult Billy.  His expressions and his delivery of his lines are spot on.  His earnest portrayal of Shazam sells this film.  This movie would live or die on his believability as a boy in a man’s body and boy does he hit a homerun!  He was born to play this role!   Mark Strong as Sivanna does what Mark Strong does best, he can play this type of villain in his sleep.  But what separates this character from his many other characters, is the story behind his evil rise.  No spoilers, but he had an amazing opportunity and lost it, and like many of this generation refuses to take responsibility for that loss.  This creates a very apropos bad guy for today’s audience.  The children as I’ve mentioned were perfect!  And I have to give shout outs to Grazer and Herman as Freddy and Darla they really steal the show!  Yes, I loved this film and recommend it with all the strength of Hercules and the power of Zeus!

Mrs. Movie Couple:  She was not as enthused.  At this point, my poor bride is suffering from Superhero overload.  She is starting to see all caped and non caped crusaders blending together and she finds their origin stories all to often to be cut from the same cloth.  She enjoyed the humour and laughed more than she expected to.  She found the kids adorable and loved the family friendly message and setting to be excellent.  She felt Levi was an amazing Shazam (the hero not the wizard, sorry don’t want you confused).   She couldn’t stand Sivanna, she even commented that Mark Strong seemed to be sleepwalking through this and giving his “Stock Bad Guy” performance (her words).   She even felt that Sandberg’s horror background came out a little too much in his creation of the seven deadly sins, so mothers of young children beware.  Overall, she found it fun, but too much of the same for her taste.  She didn’t hate it, but she would not rush out to see it again.

On the way home, I did most of the talking.  Praising the performances and commenting on the Shazam history from comics to the new film.  It was a mostly one sided conversation, LOL.   I give it 6 Bills, the Mrs. gives it 3 Bills, So we give Shazam 4 Bills!  I say take my money!  I can’t wait to go back!  She says Meh.  So we’ll go with an average of Pretty Good!  Money well spent.

So until the next date night, and I’m told it better not be another CBM (Nobody tell her Avengers: Endgame is only weeks away!)  We will see you next time!  Movie Coupe out!



Lights Out (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Lights Out Review

Director: David F. Sandberg
Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), David F. Sandberg (based on the short film by)
Stars: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello 

Plot: Rebecca must unlock the terror behind her little brother’s experiences that once tested her sanity, bringing her face to face with a supernatural spirit attached to their mother.

Running Time: 81 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics  76%   Audience 61%

Why I Watched It: A horror film that didn’t get terrible reviews, I was hopeful.

Random Thoughts: When I first heard of the film and saw the trailer I thought wow this is Darkness Falls, not a lot of people will recall this movie but I liked it and this is a very very similar plot. I want to give a shout out to Teresa Palmer, she works a lot but doesn’t seem to get the buzz she deserves,  she’s a very good actress who has done not only some very good genre work but has shown she’s willing to take risks and do different and difficult roles.

What I liked:  I’m shocked to say there’s a lot to like about the film, it has a great opening and sets up the tension from the jump and it kills off a name actor before the opening credits.  The film is very well directed and filmed, it’s a slick looking film and looks a lot more expensive than it is so credit to the director David F Sandberg, he’s someone to watch for sure.

The film is a strange hybrid of Darkness Falls and The Ring, the one thing the film does it plays it straight, no tongue in cheek this is a balls out horror film with real stakes.  I liked the fact that they use the light gimmick to build tension but the film doesn’t just rely on it the film does try to build a backstory and real characters.  The real surprise here is they flesh out the mother character played by Maria Bello, she’s actually a very important character and she’s very tragic, Bello is good here she has to go between crazy and a threat to someone who is brave and is trying to spare her family.  The acting is good across the board for this type of film it’s very good.  Teresa Palmer is good here and carries most of the action at the beginning.

The film is short and for horror films that’s almost always a good thing and here the film moves very quick, the pacing and tone are great once the film kicks into gear it  doesn’t really stop.  It’s a rare horror film that doesn’t feel padded and it doesn’t have a weak second act.

What I Didn’t Like: The ending is a bit iffy for me, it plays fine but once you think about it well let’s say it leaves a bad taste in your mouth about one character.  Also once done the film you have to wonder  why Maria Bello wasn’t the lead, it’s her story and she’s the key to everything, you have to think they wanted to appeal to a younger audience.  The only flaw in the film is how her character is treated, she’s played as a plot point at first then she’s a main part then they do something that kind of betrays what they were saying earlier.

Final Thoughts: This is a pretty good horror film, it’s a film that takes the genre seriously and also tries to do some things differently.  It’s a solid, effective and a tad unnerving horror film.

Rating: 7/10

Annabelle: Creation (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier


Director: David F. Sandberg
Writers: Gary Dauberman, Gary Dauberman (based on characters created by)
Stars: Anthony LaPaglia, Samara Lee, Miranda Otto

Plot:  12 years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, where they soon become the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
Running Time: 1 hour 49 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 69%     Audience  68%

Why I watched it: Mostly because of the good reviews, and the trailer looked decent.

Thoughts: I usually hate prequel, for the most part they’re a lazy cash grab and coming off the first Annabelle, which was so badly done I couldn’t get through it.  I do think that this film is a textbook case of if you put some effort and some thought into a horror movie even if it’s a prequel you can make a decent film.

What I liked: First off this is a well made horror film, effort has been put into this, it’s shot well the sound is great and it looks good, it doesn’t look cheap.  Horror shouldn’t mean cliched and cheap looking.  This is a very well thought out origin story. I would think we’ll here some big things from director David F Sandberg and I hope he stays in genre film making cause he understands the genre. This film is a lot better than it deserves to be, the cast is very good for this kind of film no one phones it in and the performances aren’t campy or over the top this is a tightly acted and filmed horror film.  I really liked the fact that they put some thought into the story that they just didn’t throw a bunch of cliches at us, I was surprised at the plot, it’s well thought out and very sad, Lapaglia and Otto don’t have a lot to do but they class up the film a lot and they flesh out stock characters.

I saw Angel Of Death 2, which as a very similar plot with orphans in a spooky house, now where that was boring and dull this film made me jump and has real stakes.  Director Sandberg shot the crap out of that huge house and yes he even made it a “character” I also think they really saved the whole Annabelle thing, cause the first movie was so bad it was laughable but they give it dread and they give it this evil air about it that the doll is scary again.

What I didn’t like: Here’s my old complaint, at close to 2 hours it’s a bit long, it does drag a bit and they loose some momentum.  Of course the use of jump scares is tiresome but I will say a couple work. They have 6 orphan girls all various ages and they really only give two anything to do, the other ones weren’t even characters, they were just there.  I do wish they gave the adult leads more time as I liked them, I almost wished they were the leads.

Final Thoughts: Not a great movie but a solid horror film, this shows horror can be well done even though it doesn’t have a huge budget or names, just sound film making.

Rating: ‪7/10‬