Posts Tagged ‘DC Expanded Universe’

SHAZAM: FURY OF THE GODS – Christophe Beck

March 22, 2023 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 2019 superhero film Shazam remains, for me, the best entry into the DC Extended Universe to date. At the time, I wrote that “its playful tone is a far cry from the grim seriousness of the previous Ben Affleck Batman and Henry Cavill Superman movies, it’s much more intelligent and nuanced than Aquaman, and the less said about Suicide Squad the better. What I love about it the most is how it captures the excitement and eagerness of how an actual kid would behave when given super powers, and much of that is down to Zachary Levi’s central performance, which appears to me to be a combination of Christopher Reeve and Tom Hanks from Big.” Unfortunately the response to this sequel, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, has been less effusive, with some critics calling it “more unfocused and less satisfying than its predecessor,” despite it still retaining much of the source material’s “silly charm”. The film again stars Levi as 17-year old Billy Batson, who transforms into a super hero when he utters the titular magic word; this time, Billy/Shazam finds himself in conflict with the three daughters of the Titan Atlas, played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler, who want to re-claim the staff that gives Shazam his power, saying it was stolen from them eons ago. Read more…

BLACK ADAM – Lorne Balfe

October 25, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest comic book super hero film in the DC Extended Universe is Black Adam, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, starring Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Sarah Shahi, Bodhi Sabongui, and Pierce Brosnan. Johnson stars as the titular character, a man from the city of Kahndaq circa 2500 BC, who helps lead a rebellion against a tyrannical king, and is endowed with magical powers by the Council of Wizards (the same wizards who gave similar powers to Shazam in another DC film). Thousands of years later Adam is brought back to life by an archaeologist who believes he can help defeat the oppressive regime currently ruling present-day Kahndaq; however, Adam’s new presence in the modern world catches the attention of the Justice Society of America (which is, apparently, different from the Justice League), and a team led by super-heroes Hawkman and Doctor Fate is dispatched to Kahndaq to determine whether Adam is a friend or a foe. The film has some potentially interesting things to say about the nature of heroism, and has some fun depicting a contemporary north African culture not usually explored in films like this, but by the end it devolves into yet another massive fight sequence between CGI avatars hurling each other through walls… ho hum. Such is the way with most DC films, although this at least does have a vein of humor in it which stops it being so dreary and self-serious. Read more…

WONDER WOMAN 1984 – Hans Zimmer

December 29, 2020 9 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton


Perhaps the biggest casualty of the COVID-19 cinema apocalypse was Wonder Woman 1984, director Patty Jenkins’s sequel to her massively popular 2017 super hero-smash charting the origins of the titular warrior hero. Wonder Woman 1984 was supposed to be Warner’s summer blockbuster tentpole, and was originally going to be released in theaters in June, then August, then October of 2020, before it mostly bypassed cinemas altogether and debuted on HBO Max on Christmas Day. But, even without the full-blown big-screen release, Wonder Woman 1984 is still a huge dose of unpretentious, action-packed fun. The film is set in the early 1980s and sees Gal Gadot returning in the title role, masquerading as museum curator Diana Prince by day, while continuing to fight crime as Wonder Woman. When Diana’s museum comes into possession of a mysterious ‘dreamstone’ that apparently grants wishes, things quickly spiral out of control, first when Diana wishes for her deceased lover from WWI Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) to be reincarnated, and then when her mousy colleague Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) wishes to be like Diana. Eventually ambitious businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) – who has coveted the dreamstone for years – manipulates Barbara into getting it from the museum for him, and with it he initiates a megalomaniacal plot to take over the world. Read more…

SHAZAM – Benjamin Wallfisch

April 7, 2019 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the race to make a movie about every single comic book character in history, DC have lagged behind Marvel in terms of mining their back catalogue in the search for box office gold. Whereas Marvel have unearthed hitherto little-known gems like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Black Panther to sit alongside Spider-Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Iron Man, the folks over at DC have tended to build everything around their ‘big three’ – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. However, having suffered lackluster critical reviews for their most recent efforts at putting these luminary characters on the silver screen, the producers have now started to dip into their archives in search of characters to explore. The latest of these is Shazam, written by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke, and directed by horror movie veteran David F. Sandberg. The film stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a 14-year-old orphan kid with a ‘pure heart’ who is chosen by an ancient wizard to become a super hero. When he says the wizard’s name – Shazam! – Billy is magically transformed into an adult super hero (Zachary Levi), and together with his best friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy sets about discovering his powers. However, this attracts the attention of the evil Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who has spent his entire life trying to discover the secret of Shazam’s power, and who has harnessed the physical manifestations of the seven deadly sins in order to do so. Read more…

AQUAMAN – Rupert Gregson-Williams

December 26, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been some truly bonkers super-hero films over the years, but Aquaman may take the cake as being the nuttiest of all. It tells the origin story of the much-derided DC Comics character who first appeared on film in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and then again in 2017’s Justice League; it stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, the long-estranged son of the Queen of Atlantis, who after many years living amongst regular humans must return home and reclaim his throne in order to stop the megalomaniacal plans of his brother. The film is directed by James Wan and co-stars Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, and Temuera Morrison and, to give it its due, it looks absolutely phenomenal. Other than some rather ropey de-aging which makes Morrison look like his own bad Madame Tussaud’s waxwork, the special effects in the film are simply mind-blowing; the concept design and seascapes of the underwater Atlantean kingdom are so beautiful and creative, and some of the shot composition – especially during the Trench sequence – is just spectacular. However, all this is undermined by the truly terrible screenplay, the non-existent chemistry between the leads, the bafflingly clichéd dialogue, the plot contrivances that make the deus ex machina of other films seem inspired, and the existence of several utterly weird individual moments. This film contains – and I’m not kidding here – an octopus playing the drums, Heard wearing a dress made of jellyfish, battle-hardened seahorses fighting sentient crab people, sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, flying wine knives, Momoa eating roses as a snack, Kidman eating a goldfish like it’s an outtake from A Fish Called Wanda, a bad guy who calls himself Ocean Master with no hint of irony, a random tourist getting crushed by a building and then walking away like nothing happened, Willem Dafoe sporting a man-bun topknot, and an ancient racist underwater sea monster voiced by Julie Andrews, among many other truly mind-boggling things. You’ll just have to experience it for yourselves. Read more…


November 21, 2017 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The competing comic book franchises of DC and Marvel have arguably hit peak saturation point. Between them they have released 22 movies – 17 from Marvel dating back to Iron Man in 2008, and 5 from DC beginning with Man of Steel in 2013 – and there have been five this year alone: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, and now Justice League. This latter film is a direct sequel to 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and sees the Batman and Wonder Woman attempting to put together a team of similar super heroes in order to combat the existential threat posed by a powerful alien/god named Steppenwolf, who wants to destroy the Earth in the aftermath of Superman’s death. The film stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher as the five members of the Justice League – Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg – with support from Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons, among a large ensemble cast. Read more…

WONDER WOMAN – Rupert Gregson-Williams

June 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s taken more than 70 years for Wonder Woman to appear in her own major live-action movie. The character first appeared in print in 1941, the creation of American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, and has been seen as a feminist icon for more than half a century. Prior to her extended cameo in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the most prominent depiction of her character on screen, prior to this film, was the popular 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter; now she is front and center of her own origin story, with Israeli actress Gal Gadot playing the title role. Read more…

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg

March 29, 2016 10 comments

batmanvsupermanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In an attempt to compete with Marvel and their cadre of interlocking super-hero pictures, DC Comics have begun to develop their own version of a cinematic universe. It began with Man of Steel in 2013, director Zack Snyder’s re-imagining of the Superman story, and continues with this second film, which sees the introduction of Batman and several other DC characters into a single, shared story space, setting up what will eventually become the Justice League. Rather than continuing Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice takes yet another fresh look at Gotham’s cowl-wearing warrior, replacing Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne with Ben Affleck and Michael Caine’s Alfred with Jeremy Irons. The film inserts Wayne into the immediate aftermath of the finale of Man of Steel by having him witness the conclusive fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod over Metropolis, and the devastation that accompanied it, from the ground. Jump forward 18 months, and Wayne has committed himself to exposing Superman as an unstoppable threat to humanity. Meanwhile, Superman’s alter-ego, newspaperman Clark Kent, has become concerned with Batman’s personal brand of vigilante justice in nearby Gotham, and resolves to expose him. However, unbeknownst to either Kent or Wayne, their mutual plans are being manipulated by technology mogul Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who has megalomaniacal tendencies of his own, and wants both Batman and Superman out of his way. Read more…

MAN OF STEEL – Hans Zimmer

June 17, 2013 30 comments

manofsteelOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Before I begin this review of Man of Steel, let me make one or two things perfectly clear. I do not hate Hans Zimmer, or his music. I’ve met him on a couple of occasions, and he’s an extremely nice and friendly man. As a composer, I think he’s very talented. He was a genuinely groundbreaking artist when he first emerged on the scene in the late 1980s, and broke the film music mould when he wrote scores like Black Rain, Backdraft and Crimson Tide. I absolutely adore many of his works, ranging from A League of Their Own to The Prince of Egypt, The Last Samurai and Pearl Harbor. I think Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a masterpiece, and close to being the best score of his entire career. I have a few issues with the way his Remote Control organization has come to dominate the mainstream Hollywood film scoring world, but I admire him as a shrewd businessman, and he did help launch the careers of John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams among others, which is praise-worthy in itself. Having said that, I think Man of Steel is a colossal failure of both musical ingenuity and conceptual approach. Read more…