This week kicks off with one of the surprise gems of the year for me, Shazam! Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a troubled kid who is a pain to the authorities as he searches for his lost mother. When Billy finds himself mysteriously selected by a wizard to be a new champion against evil, he is transformed into an adult sized hero endowed with incredible powers. Along with his new friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy really starts to enjoy the hero life when he encounters Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who was previously rejected by the wizard and is now determined to rule the world with the help of dark forces. Now Billy must find his true calling and find a way to save the world from true evil.
From the trailers for Shazam! I was expecting a very light silly movie but what I got was a well written, very funny and action packed superhero epic with a huge heart. And a fair bit of darkness. Zachary Levi proves himself a very capable leading man and gives a brilliant performance as a kid in a powerful man body. There are definitely elements of Penny Marshall’s classic Big with Tom Hanks in there (even some direct nods!) but Shazam! manages to balance all of its elements cohesively. Give Shazam! a chance, it is pretty much the perfect family superhero movie.
Next up is a new inspirational drama, Breakthrough. John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) is a young boy adopted by loving parents Brian (Josh Lucas) and Joyce (Chrissy Metz) Smith. Though they are openly loving and supportive towards him, John struggles with feelings of abandonment from his birth parents as he goes through puberty and self-discovery, and starts rebelling against his parents and teachers. But after an accident where John and two friends fall through the ice on a frozen lake, John is recovered late from the water and is put into an induced coma at the hospital. Joyce and Brian find themselves questioning their faith and love as they pray for John to somehow pull through and survive.
Breakthrough is one of many films in recent memory that is produced with a faith based audience in mind, but thanks to a good script and solid performances, especially by Chrissy Metz of This Is Us, Breakthrough is an inspirational story of courage and perseverance that can be appreciated by anyone.
Lastly this week is a fascinating documentary called Scary Stories. The film explores the history of one of the most controversial books in children’s literature, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which scared and continues to scare generations of young readers. The film is an intriguing examination of the iconic book featuring more than 40 interviews from family members of author Alvin Schwartz, to fellow children's book horror authors like R.L Stine "Goosebumps" and Q.L. Pearce, to folklorists, artists and fans discussing the impact that the books have had on both themselves as well as the culture at large.
As we are on the verge of a new big screen adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Scary Stories is a wonderful companion piece to check out before heading to the movie theatre. The interviews are insightful and the history of the book and its incredible artwork is documented in detail including its history of being targeted and banned by parents and religious groups. Scary Stories is the ultimate precursor and essential viewing, especially for anyone who grew up on the books.
Also of note this week is a new Criterion Collection edition of Klute starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, Space 1999: The Complete Series on Blu-ray for the first time and a new 4K edition of Duncan Jones excellent Moon with Sam Rockwell.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday July 16, 2019
Ash is Purest White
Attack of the Robots*
Bong of the Living Dead
Boruto : Naruto Next Generations Set 2
Crime and Punishment (1935)*
From the Earth to the Moon
Girl Number Three
Grace Quigley (1985)*
Hold Back the Dawn (1941)*
Jefferson in Paris (1995)*
Klute (1971)* - Criterion Collection
Last Rites of the Dead
Law and Order (1953)*
Moon (2009) 4K
Satanis, The Devil’s Mass/Satan’s Children Double Feature*
Shortcut to Happiness (2003)*
Space: 1999: The Complete Series*
The Baker's Wife (1938)* - Criterion Collection
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales
The Chill Factor (1991)*
The Devil's Mass/Satan's Children - Double Feature*
The Leopard Man (1943)*
Titans: The Complete First Season
Twelve Pole Manor
Wildland: Special Edition
*Catalog Blu-ray debut