New York, Mar 24 (AP/UNB) - OK, so it's basically "Big" with superheroes and villains instead of businesspeople and girlfriends, but director David F. Sandberg has infused his film with so much heart and charm that it hardly matters. Even the deficiencies, like the sluggish beginning and the random, ridiculous villains, fade away under a haze of goodwill because unlike so many big spectacle action pics with sequels in mind, "Shazam!" actually sticks the landing.
But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Don't worry if you don't happen to know anything about "Shazam!" or are convinced that you won't care. I certainly didn't. Plus, there are a lot of superheroes to keep track of these days and someone who needs an exclamation point is and should be immediately suspect.
The movie isn't here to judge any lack of knowledge though. It's an origin story about a jaded 14-year-old Philadelphia foster kid, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who's bestowed with superpowers by Djimon Hounsou (naturally). As Shazam, he's physically altered into an adult and takes the form of Zachary Levi. But of course, even with his height, his muscles, his voice and even his powers, he's still very much a kid and has a lot to learn.
Those are the basics, but the spirit really comes from the smart writing, the pitch-perfect casting and the supporting world around Billy and Shazam. Right before he gets his powers, he's placed in a new group foster home led by Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor Vasquez (Cooper Andrews) that's full of quirky characters: Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), a disabled superhero obsessive with a biting wit; Eugene (Ian Chen), a violent video game obsessive; Darla (Faithe Herman), the adorable youngest; Mary (Grace Fulton) and Pedro (Jovan Armand). The young actors assembled here are astounding, and immediately captivating, especially Grazer as Freddy and Herman as Darla who nearly steal the show. It's why when the film asks you to believe that it's really about family, and not merchandising, you're on board.
Freddy, with his wealth of superhero knowledge, helps Billy/Shazam figure out what to do with these new, strange talents. The training montages have a terrific comedic sensibility and Grazer and Levi are perfectly matched for the job. Levi in particular pulls off the tricky feat of playing a disaffected, but still fairly innocent young teenager while wearing spandex and a cape, no less. Grazer, meanwhile, who we've seen before in "It," is beyond his years with his ability to draw a laugh.
That's not to say the movie is perfect. The beginning gives an extended origin story for both Billy and the little boy who will grow up to become the megalomaniac villain, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Dr. Sivana is woefully underwritten, too, although Strong does his best being the straight, serious guy. For the most part it comes across as less of a threat and more of a buzzkill that gets in the way all the fun we were having with Freddy and Shazam.
Also, as if Dr. Sivana wasn't enough, the script gives him Seven Deadly Sins as henchmen. These sins take the form of unimaginative and indistinguishable CG gargoyles. I'm not exactly sure what lust or greed would look like in gargoyle form, but I'm pretty certain this isn't it. They're also given dubbed voices that feel about as authentic as the voices of the monsters The Power Rangers battled on Saturday mornings.
There's also a running gag about a strip club that seemed a little retrograde for a current film. But, nitpicks aside, "Shazam!" is just a lightning bolt of unexpected joy that is certainly worth your time and money.
"Shazam!," a Warner Bros. release, is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America for "for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material." Running time: 132 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
Dhaka, Mar 18 (UNB) - Veteran Bengali actor Chinmoy Roy breathed his last on Sunday at his Kolkata residence at the age of 78.
The celebrated actor used to leave a life far away from media limelight after the death of his wife, actor Jui Bandopadhyay, reports The Times of India.
Last year in June, he had a near death experience after falling down from his apartment. He was also suffering from age related illness over the last few years.
Sankha Roy, son of Chinmoy, said the actor was not feeling well after the dinner on Sunday and suffered a cardiac arrest at around 10 pm.
The celluloid Tenida, as h was known fondly among his fans, fell down from his 4th floor apartment last year. The neighbours found him lying in a pool of blood by and he was rushed to a city private hospital.
According to his son Sankha Roy, his father was just taking an evening walk on the terrace when he suddenly slipped and fell off. Although he recovered that time after spending quite some time at a private city hospital, his physical condition was not so good since then.
In an illustrious career, the ‘Charmurti’ actor has worked under so many renowned filmmakers such as Tapan Sinha, Satyajit Ray, Tarun Majumdar and many others.
New York, Mar 16 (AP/UNB) — Netflix will remove footage of a real fiery train disaster from its hit post-apocalyptic survival film "Bird Box" months after the streaming giant was criticized for exploiting a tragedy.
The stock footage was taken from a 2013 crash in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic when a train carrying crude oil came off the tracks and exploded into a massive ball of fire, killing 47 people.
Netflix licensed the footage from the stock image vendor Pond 5 and used it in "Bird Box" in an early TV news montage. The Sandra Bullock-led thriller is about monstrous entities that compel any human who sees them to quickly try to kill themselves.
Pond 5 in January said the footage "was taken out of context" and apologized. But Netflix said at the time it wasn't planning to cut the clip, although said it was looking at ways to do things differently moving forward.
Nexflix changed its mind and said Friday it will replace the footage with an outtake from a former TV series in the U.S. The company said it is "sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Megantic community."
The mayor of Lac-Megantic, Julie Morin, had criticized the use of the footage, calling it "a lack of respect." She and Quebec's culture and communications minister, Nathalie Roy, applauded Netflix's latest move. "This result shows that by being united and pooling our efforts, everything is possible," Roy tweeted.
Dhaka, Mar 13 (UNB) - Bangladesh Motion Picture Exhibitors Association is threatening to close all the theatres of the country from April 12 if the government does not officially finalize the decision to increase direct investment in local filmmaking and demanding a more hassle-free policy for importing foreign movies.
The leaders of the association of hall owners announced their decision on Wednesday during a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
Speakers at the conference said that after several meetings with the responsible people, they did not give any effective decision to save cinema houses, increase the country's film production, and remove impediments. That's why such a decision has been taken.
They also said that the number of movie theatres in the country has dropped to 174 from 1,235 while the number of country-made films has also come down to 35 to 40 in a year.
“50 thousand workers of the movie hall are unemployed. Rent, electricity bills are increasing. The movie market is being destroyed. New investment and talented builders are not coming,’’ the statement said.
They said they decided to stop indefinitely from April 12 to come out of this situation. The decision was made to continue until the government’s effective decision.
Advisor of the organisation Sudipta Kumar Das, and President Iftekhar Nowshad, among others, were present at the press conference.
Los Angeles, Mar 13 (AP/UNB) — Batman is turning 80 this year, and Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy is coming back to select theaters to celebrate in high-resolution 70mm IMAX.
Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein said Tuesday that the engagement will kick off in Los Angeles at Universal CityWalk on March 30 with back-to-back screenings of "Batman Begins," ''The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises."
Nolan will participate in a Q&A between the second and third films.
On April 13, the trilogy will screen in New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Indianapolis, where audiences can also see footage from Nolan's Q&A.
Tickets go on sale Wednesday at 9 a.m. Pacific.
The caped crusader first appeared in the comics in 1939.