March Movie Roundup

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March Movie Roundup

Ben Wheeler, Online and Social Media Manager

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“Captive State”

In this Rupert Wyatt – directed film is the story of an insurrection, mostly from the point of view of the group organizing it, with some perspective from officials that this insurrection is targeting.  The governing body that is targeted is an American one with an alliance with alien occupiers, who live underground. These aliens attacked earth in the past, and alliances with these creatures known as the ‘legislators’ were seen as the only way to avoid annihilation. Our main group seeks to expose these alliances as facades.

The big issues with this film are the pacing and the non-sequential storytelling.  The pacing varies wildly from breakneck to garden snail style slow. Basically, the pace of the story regularly changes with little explanation as to why. There is nothing wrong with non-sequential storytelling itself, but the way the film utilizes it is terrible. It mainly relies on this style to reveal twists in the story, but when the film rarely takes the time to explain people’s motivations, this style of storytelling is very jarring and frustrating. Plus, the twists rarely make sense in the moment.

Unfortunately, these flaws make it hard to see anything very worthwhile about “Captive State”. I want my 11 bucks back.

 

“Shazam!”

“Shazam!” doesn’t officially open in theaters until April 4 or 5 (depending on your location), but a buddy and I were lucky to see an early screening.

Directed by David F. Sandberg while starring Jack Dylan Grazer, Zachary Levi and Asher Angel, this film showcases the journey of Billy Batson, a well-intentioned but troubled foster-child who is bouncing around foster homes due to him pulling drastic hijinks in his search for his birth mother. After saving his  foster-brother Freddy Freeman from neighborhood thugs, Batson is teleported to a cave where the wizard Shazam lives and receives Shazam’s powers after the wizard deems him pure of heart. Batson learns he must grow up quickly, as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong II) wants those same powers for himself.

Though the title character lacks Deadpool’s twisted humor or ability to break the fourth wall, he is similar in his ability to make any situation light-hearted and comical through sassy jokes combined with excellent comedic timing. “Shazam!” doesn’t rely solely on comedy however, as it is almost a sampler platter of tones. There are some surprising horror elements, as well as drama throughout. Still, the film is at its best when its comedic moments alternate and mix with its heartfelt, family-themed moments.

The pacing and storytelling are excellent in being fast enough to keep you interested but still giving you plenty of time to digest and enjoy what you are watching. The fight/action scenes are fantastic in their choreography and the comedic elements blend into these scenes seamlessly. There is also a really cool reveal leading into the final fight scene. The less said, the better. Just go see it!

 

“US”

Jordan Peele has been bothered by some interpretations of his first directorial effort (“Get Out”), so it made sense he would turn up the terror dial on his follow up, “US”. As far as I can tell, this second horror effort  knocks it out of the park with many more true scares.

“US” is the story of the Wilson family as they make a trip to their summer house near the beach in Santa Cruz. The mom, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is nervous about this trip, as she suffers recurring nightmares and visions about a traumatic experience where she confronted her doppelganger on the same beach as a child.  Her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke) and her children (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) attempt to comfort her, an effort that ultimately fails when the whole family’s doppelgangers show up in their driveway, aiming for blood.

It is not often that a horror-movie forces you to contemplate complex themes as the movie plays, but “US” is that effective in combining horror and weirdness. The film avoids horror tropes and showcases excellent build in its dramatic and scary scenes.  Most of the build-ups have a really good payoff, and the film is unpredictable. You have never seen a horror movie like this one, not even close. There is still some humor mixed in early on, but this is definitely a horror film. The pacing in this film is borderline chaotic, but the sequences are edited together so perfectly, it is impossible to be lost.

I give this film a strong recommendation, but you may want to skip if you’re not a fan of cerebral plots.

 

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