Double Feature: Shazam! (2019) & Klaus (2019)

The next double feature is here! While an unlikely pair (to those who haven’t seen Shazam!), its actually both films set at Christmas time. Imagine my surprise when I went to watch a superhero movie (in the last remaining hours of the rental, might I add) to find that I had opened one fitting to the current movie theme this month. Catching up to 2019 movies while watching some holiday films, here we go!

Shazam! (2019)

shazam!

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Meagan Goode, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Ian Chen, Ross Butler, Jovan Armand, D. J. Cotrona

A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected super powers and soon gains a powerful enemy. – IMDB

I don’t really know the different superheroes and I’ve already mentioned it before too much. Shazam is one that I’m actually not familiar at all and when I realized that it was from DC, I kind of got a little worried. So far, my favorite movie experience has been Wonder Woman as everything else is a little bit of a mixed bag. Shazam got some pretty good reviews when it was released in theatres so I had it on my list since then to check it out.

Shazam is something of a breath of fresh air. It has some nice moments that feel parallel to some of the Marvel film scenes but, it also has a really nice comedy element to it that works really well with the age of the actors here and just really nailing that age difference and superhero responsibilities and all that fun bits about family and whatnot. It embraces the whole being a child and wanting to be someone different, bigger or stronger or whatnot and somehow as Shazam gets thrown this responsibility out of nowhere, its all a bond with his new foster brother to figure out what is the best way to approach this and all the fame that he has gotten because of it and how to find the balance of his real life. Zachary Levi as Shazam definitely takes it on with so much style and fun. At the same time, his foster brother is played by Jack Dylan Grazer who does a great job (just like he did in IT Chapter 1 & Chapter 2).

Mark Strong plays the villain here which does work. Superhero movies always have the not too threatening villain and here as Black Adam, he does have quite a nice overall appearance and vibe although he never feels like his threats are present enough since its more the second half of the film that the two collide together and then fight it through until the end.

Shazam! does follow the superhero formula but probably because it has that comedic twist and the whole age change between reality and superhero form that it adds a little more charm to the whole experience. There is this innocence and simplicity to Shazam and that works its wonders here. Plus, I’m a sucker for movies set during Christmas, giving it a somewhat alternate Christmas movie vibe, which gives it extra points.

Klaus (2019)

Klaus

Director: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martinez Lopez

Voice Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, Joan Cusack, Norm Macdonald, Will Sasso, Sergio Pablos, Neda Margrethe Labba

A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions. – IMDB

Netflix has had its hit and misses but it really needs to get more of these Netflix Originals where its animated. So far, they have picked up some really nice projects with this one and of course, French-animation I Lost My Body (Review). I’m sure there are others but I still have a lot of Netflix Originals to catch up with other than you know, Super Monsters or something that I happen to keep watching during some kind of holiday. With that said, Klaus is a family animation which goes back to creating an original story of how the concept of Santa Claus started out in the middle of nowhere with a feud tradition between two families and a rich boy of the postal company getting sent to the middle of nowhere by  his father to find some worth. A scheme to boost the almost non-existent need and desire for the postal service  through the kids turns into something of a kind act leading to the quote and powers this movie: “A true selfless act always sparks another.”

Klaus might not sound very special or different as it piles on some rather similar plot points together but no one has really done the origins of Santa Claus (at least from what I know) and that in itself is rather fun and the story itself becomes a heartwarming experience of finding purpose and bringing together the society that was previously filled with hate that had no other reasoning than to keep up a tradition. It is filled with a lot of positive messages and the animation itself is absolutely beautiful to watch with a lot of charming and/or cute characters. Plus, there is some really great voice acting with Klaus voiced by the talent J.K. Simmons and one of the opposing families is lead by Mrs. Krum who is voiced by Joan Cusack, who has been frequently seen in Netflix Originals and very talented as well.

Klaus is a charming little Christmas movie addition for sure that will make it onto my annual line-up in coming years because its so fun to watch. If nothing else charms you, the little girl Margu voiced by Neda Margrethe Labba and there is one scene that always makes me so happy. A surprisingly wonderful film that you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Leatherface (2017) & The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

Welcome to the next double feature as we continue on the A-Z journey through Netflix. As mentioned in the previous one, I did two L selections mostly because I have nothing interesting I wanted to watch for the Q selection. Here we are with a horror franchise addition Leatherface and a YA fantasy novel adaptation in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

Let’s check them out!

Leatherface (2017)

leatherface

Director: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Sam Strike, Vanessa Grasse, Finn Jones, Sam Coleman, Jessica Madsen, James Bloor

A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell, while being pursued by a lawman out for revenge. – IMDB

I’m not going to lie that its been a while since I saw Leatherface (or at least it feels that way). Either that or it was simply one that I didn’t really care too much for because its fading really fast from my memory. I’ve never been really on track with Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. My startoff point was with the 2003 remake where I was so new to horror that I barely even watched that one and then went on to watching Texas Chainsaw in 2016 (Review) which was pointless and disappointing so I wasn’t sure how to feel about this one. Leatherface is something of an origin story. But then Texas Chainsaw was kind of an origin story also. I believe how I feel about Leatherface is probably how people that I’ve talked to who dislike Rob Zombie’s Halloween feels like where the fact of giving Michael Meyers a reason behind why he is the way he is makes it less scary (although I do like Rob Zombie’s Halloween) however for Leatherface, the movie seems to be doing the same thing and in a much less effective way might I say.

There’s a ton of problems here. The story in general does work in the beginning and then it falls apart in the middle and somehow ends up trying to pull off a twist ending because the deal with this is that we never quite know who is meant to turn into Leatherface and that is the big question throughout this entire crew we’re watching. I’m not going to lie that it did work on some levels but then, something just never seems to land.

I’m not sure if its because I’m not familiar with this franchise but I’d really like to hear fans of this franchise tell me whether this one worked for you or not?

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

city of bones

Director: Harald Zwart

Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Robert Sheehan, Robert Maillet, Kevin Durand, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey, Harry Van Gorkum, Jonathan Rhys Meyer

When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called the Shadow World. – IMDB

You can tell from the way the story ended and where it chose to end The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones that it didn’t plan to be a one movie deal but unfortunately, I believe the movie didn’t do too good so somehow it ended up being a TV series instead. Since I haven’t gotten around to writing up the TV binge for Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments quite yet, I’m going to get down to business and say that I have never read the novel series but I do love the TV series a lot and felt pretty sad when it got cancelled. However, we are here for the movie adaptation and I’m going to go straight out with this and say that, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was actually not too bad. Its biggest fault (very similar to what I thought about Death Note) is that it had too much story to stuff into a movie (which is probably why it works better as a TV series).

The movie itself had a decent cast. I actually didn’t mind the chemistry behind the two main leads, Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower playing Clary and Jace respectively. They were pretty decent. Everyone else was also pretty good in their roles. Except, the biggest problem is with a story built through a lot of background lore and connections and deeper relationships (family, love, revenge, friendship), it falls apart because none of the characters get the depth and development because of the lack of screen time. At the same time, there was a whole lot of Shadowhunters things that weren’t really explained or highlighted which made it seem even more confusing for people who haven’t been exposed to this world before. Seeing as the film took 2 hours to get where the TV series took almost a season to achieve, this shows how much was taken out.

In the end, the overall issue with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was its execution and an oversimplification of content making it lacking a lot of substance hence, making it feel disjointed. There are some cute scenes between Jace and Clary which worked but the story was all over the pace. Its always interesting to see how some more known stars end up in these YA adaptation projects and in this case, we have Lena Headey as Clary’s mom and Jonathan Rhys Meyer as the villain Valentine, who pretty much had zero presence, another issue with the movie having too much to cover and not enough time for its characters.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films before?