Tag Archives: Mark Strong

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!

 

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Kingsman 2

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong

Plot:  When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organisation in the United States. These two elite secret organisations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Running Time: 2 Hours 21 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 53%    Audience 65%
Why I Watched It: Saw the first one and it was on for 2.99 on itunes so not my fault.

Random Thoughts: Matthew Vaughn is not one of my favourite directors,I know a lot of people love him and a ton of fanboys adore him cause he makes “movies” he doesn’t tell stories but makes high energy, highly stylised over the top movies and for me he’s a tad too much, all style really no real characters and no stakes, look he killed off Colin Firth in the first film and now he’s back.

What I Liked: The style is cool not going to lie, it’s loud and does provide the over the top action you would expect and yes it’s a sequel so it’s more of everything.  I might not be a huge fan of Vaugh’s but he does deliver on what he does best, be does do what it says on the label but I fear he does come close to being the British Michael Bay. He is loud for the sake of being loud and he pushes the limits just to see how far he can go it’s not in service of the characters or the story.

The sound design is great, the stunts are cool and all the actors are game and I will say most of them are engaged.

What I Didn’t Like: To put it very simple this is a bloated and very self indulgent movie, too many name actors with very little to do and for the love of film why is this film over 2 hours and 20 minutes, there’s not that much story to tell and boy does it drag and near the end you feel those extra minutes.

The story is about as cliched as you can get think a James Bond movie from the early 80′s, the villain here is played by Julianne Moore and yes she’s over the top and is fun at points but she’s not fleshed out at all and she has a diner where she kills people with a meat grinder, yes you read that right.  This film wants to be cheesy B-Movie fun but there’s too much money on the screen and the actors are way too good, wasted but still too good for it to work.

Also this film does through some very heavy handed social commentary that just seems out of place, this fill has a scene where our hero puts a tracking device inside a women, I don’t think I want to explain further.  So trying to be political just seems silly.  At the end of the day this film is just there, you could argue we needed a sequel but we got one and I wish they put some effort into the story and actually gave these very good actors something to do and yes Elton John plays himself, kind of sums up what this movie was going for.

Final Thoughts: Mindless, big budget popcorn movie if that’s what you’re looking for then that’s what you’ll get but it’s not a good or even fun popcorn movie.

Rating: 3/10

6 Days (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

6 Days

Director: Toa Fraser
Writer: Glenn Standring
Stars: Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Abbie Cornish

Plot: In April 1980, armed gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London and took all inside hostage. Over the next six days a tense standoff took place, all the while a group of highly trained soldiers from the SAS prepared for a raid the world had never seen.

Running Time: 94 Minutes
IMDB Score: 6.2

Why I Watched It: Didn’t really know much about it but the trailer and the cast made up my mind.

Random Thoughts: This is based on a true story and I honestly don’t remember even hearing about it. Now that’s a good bad thing, on the good side I don’t know how it turns out but on the bad side I don’t know if they’re staying true to the events.

On a side note here I think Mark Strong is such an underrated actor, he’s caught in that grey area of character actor but sometime leading man, granted in mostly British films, but he’s always good I’m just waiting for that breakout role where more people know his name.

What I Liked: Not knowing about this really did help me with the tension and also how this all happened so I wasn’t bored with it at all. This comes down to being a hostage movie but it has many different moving parts and I think that what I liked about the film, it doesn’t focus on one thing. We have the hostage takers, the police who are negotiating with them, the press outside not only reporting but waiting, the government behind close doors deciding what to do and the team of SAS soldiers waiting to get called on.

My favorite part is with the SAS, cause we’ve seen hostage movies before but to get a chance to see the SAS getting ready and then have to wait to see if and when they go in was very interesting and different. Jamie Bell shines in this part as one of the SAS waiting, he’s quiet intense and says a lot with just looks and facial expressions, he’s tough without having to go over the top macho about it. The parts where you see them wait and then go over different ways of going in is very interesting.

Mark Strong is the best part about the hostage negotiating. He’s mostly on the phone, he plays the main Cop on site and he shows compassion and also helplessness, there isn’t much he can do except bide time. The reporters are the weakness part as their not given much screen time but Abie Cornish is good here, I wish she had more to do.

The film is for the most part mostly talking but the end we do get some action and it’s filmed and acted very well, they show the speed and precision that these men trained for.

What I Didn’t Like: For the most part the film lacked energy, it’s well done but it seems very workman like, not a lot of energy and the film takes on almost a documentary type feel to it, we’re on the outside looking in and I didn’t feel connected at times.

The weakest part is the actual hostage situation it’s acted well and shot well but it’s cliches after cliches, we’ve seen this a hundred times, there’s the one man “terrorist” who is calm and wants everyone to get out alive and then the other more hotheaded one who you know is going to make things harder and it just seemed mailed in, we don’t really learn much about them and we don’t even get to know the hostages that well either.

This is a case where I think the film needed maybe 15 minutes added on so we could flesh out the characters better so we got the sense of who they were. At the end of the film we get of course titles telling us of what happened to these people and commenting on them, we the reporter played by Abbie Cornish became a household name because of her reporting but we don’t really get to see much of that or get a feel for her. I think we dealt with too many behind the door meetings with politicians that really didn’t add much we hadn’t seem a hundred times before. I’m glad they didn’t cast someone as Margaret Thatcher, that would have been distracting, we do hear what she wants though.

I think in the end what I liked about the film hurt it a bit, by showing us all the different moving parts we didn’t get the focus some of them needed to make it a better film.

Final Thoughts: A well made and a very well acted film, it’s worth the watch.

Rating: 6/10

Before I Go To Sleep (2014) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

Director: Rowan Joffe
Writers: Rowan Joffe, S.J. Watson (based on the novel by)
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong 

Plot:  A woman wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her.

Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Rotten tomatoes score: Critics 36%   Audience 40%

Why I watched it: I almost didn’t, the reviews were bad and the trailer looked boring and a tad silly but I decided to give it a chance mainly because of the cast and the fact that it had a short running time.

Random thoughts: I have to admit I’m not the biggest Nicole Kidman fan,I liked her early work and now she just doesn’t interest me don’t get me wrong a good actress but her choices of roles leave me cold.  I’m a huge Mark Strong fan and I wish he could find that breakout role and also break the stereotypes he keeps playing.

What I liked: Going in I knew this was a Memento knockoff and was prepared to just shake my head but I will say this they handle the gimmick well and I will give credit where credit is due Nicole Kidman is very good here, it’s a showy part but also a tough one, every time she wakes up she’s a blank slate and this good have been silly but Kidman does give it weight and she does give a very nuanced performance.  She’s the main reason to watch this film. Now I won’t go into spoilers but it’s tricky cause this film is all about the twists and turns and on that level I liked it cause I didn’t know where it was going and some of the twists were pretty good, it got me a few times.

I pretty much knew that someone was lying and it would end up as the whole this is not what it seems bit.  I think one thing the film did well was the casting cause you have Strong who always plays the bad guys and Firth who is charming and always the good guy but since this film wants you to guess what is going on both actors get to play type and against it. The one thing that I thought was different is that Kidman finds out some hard truths about herself and yes she finds out more than she wanted to know.  The film does move pretty well after the first twenty minutes of set up and the film does build tension and does so right to the very end.

What I didn’t like: First things firsts the film is a tad silly and really over the top with some of the twists and you do have to suspend your disbelief hard on this one.  Some of the twists are cool but really make little sense.

Also there is a lot of violence against women here, well against Kidman she gets battered and it was very uncomfortable, I think they pushed a bit to far with it.  Now I also thought they made one character so evil and so deranged that you didn’t believe what came first cause no way they didn’t show their true selves before.

Final thoughts: I actually liked this film more than I thought, yes it has flaws but it sucked me in and I actually invested in the characters, to me this was an old time potboiler didn’t make a lot of sense but it was well acted and compelling.

Rating: 6/10