When DC decided to mimic marvel by creating their own cinematic universe (which was something they should have done a long time ago. As a subordinate of WB, DC didn’t have to go through the Legal gymnastics that Marvel did to bring their most famous characters together on screen. But I digress), DC tried to distance themselves from the comparison by following an internal motto of “NO funny business.” Meaning they would forgo the clever quips in favour of gravitas and seriousness.

It didn’t quite work out as they planned.

The first film in this attempt, Man of Steel, tried to evoke a feeling that what you were watching was realistic and more honest in its depiction of an alien on earth with powers far beyond those of mortal men. It took its inspiration from the Dark Knight films (Which people forget are funny) and its “Realistic” Portrayal of Batman.

But the film was critically panned, especially that ending, and no one knew how to fix it.

Then came the abomination of Batman V Superman, and the less said about that movie the better.

It’s been previously written how DC failed in its marketing and it’s storytelling and how Justice League, which should have smashed box office records but came and went like a summer breeze, failed to turn on audiences. What hasn’t been written is how DC plans to right the ship and hopefully find success by moving away from the Zach Snyder vision of bombastic imagery and shallow characterization, into a more modern, honest, hopeful approach. The same approach that made Wonder Woman such a success.

And they are doing it by adapting the two most unlikely company saviours, Aquaman and Shazam!

The Man who Talks to Fish is Pretty Badass

Aquaman, the upcoming film directed by James Wan, tells the story of Arthur Curry, A Half Breed Atlantean born of royalty but reluctant to take the mantle. He must stop his half Brother, the Ocean Master, from lashing out at surface dwellers for their perceived polluting of the Oceans.

Aquaman has always been a punchline to the public, ever since he was portrayed in the Super Friends Cartoon serious as a useless superhero who’s only power was talking to fish. DC Comics spent years trying to rehabilitate Aquaman’s image, portraying him as a strong, angry leader of Atlantis who could hold his own with any member of the justice league. He even once lost his hand in a battle with Black Mantis and had to make do with a harpoon for an appendage.

But much like Batman before the 1989 Tim Burton film, Aquaman still couldn’t shake the stigma brought on by those early cartoons. The hope is that the new film, with Jason Momoa as the title character, can change that perception and make people rethink the idea of Aquaman as a joke.

And if the trailer is any indication, DC hopes to portray Atlantis as an underwater wonderland that may rival the galactic scenery of Guardians of the Galaxy.

What Do You Get When You Mix Superman with “Big”? Shazam!

Another character with an interesting back story and a misunderstood reputation is Shazam. The character, originally named Captain Marvel, was the main character for a series of stories published by Fawcett Comics back in the 40s and 50s. Striking very similar powers to Superman, DC sued the publisher for copyright infringement before eventually buying the publisher outright and folding the characters of that universe into DC proper.

The character history of Shazam, formerly Captain Marvel, is thus: a young orphan by the name of Billy Batson wanders into a cave where he meets an old wizard who deems him worthy of great power. By saying the name Shazam the young boy is transformed into the mighty Captain Marvel, which allows him to fight crime and do good in the world.

The joke of the character is that he retains his youthful innocence, which makes for awkward encounters with actual adults.

The trailer for the film gives you the sense that they are really going to go hard on the fact that Shazam, when grown, still acts like a teenage kid who would rather play PlayStation than save the world. It seems as if the Film is trying to combine the playful fun of BIG with the hopeful super heroics of Superman.

Zachary Levi plays the title character, the Big Red Cheese himself, and it’s an interesting choice. No doubt Zachary has the comic timing to play the role, but Shazam has always been drawn as a big burly bodybuilder, and Levi doesn’t really exude that kind of intimidating frame. But as always, I remind those who question his casting that once upon a time, People thought Michael Keaton was a terrible choice to play Batman. And now people think he was the best one.

For me? Zachary Levi will always be Chuck.

DC Taking Risks with Unknown IP

It’s not a stretch to say that DC is taking a risk with these films. But what do they have to lose, really?

For far too long DC has taken its cues from the success of the Batman films and have demanded that other films in that universe match the Tone. It’s taken them some colossal failures to realize that taking each character as they come and treating the IP with respect brings about long-term gains.

I’m hoping that both Aquaman and Shazam kick ass in the theatres. And I’m hoping they give Superman another shot at being a cinematic hit.

DC shouldn’t be the little studio that could. They should be on the same level as Marvel. They have been in the Comic business.

It’s time they level up in the film business as well.

This is a review by Thomas Rodriguez

I was afraid that it would buckle under expectations.

I feared it would be a bad movie.

The pre-release reviews were very positive.  But was it because it was a good movie, or because the good intentions behind the film overrode its entertainment value.

It had burned me with Ghostbusters, the remake. I wanted to root for the film’s success because unlike some Neanderthals, I’m not afraid to root for a female protagonist. One of my favorite films of the last decade was Hunger Games. While the sequels were okay, that first film showed that a strong woman, both emotionally and physically, was nothing to be afraid of.

Another protagonist not to fear? The Black superhero.

This wasn’t the first African American Lead in a major superhero film. Wesley Snipes was the day walker in Blade. Before that, Michael Jai White donned the cape and cowl of the supernatural hero Spawn.

But those didn’t have the almost all black cast that Black Panther boasted. and they didn’t feature an African American Director. Black Panther would change the landscape and prove that representation matter.

But it had to be great.

I’m happy to say that Black Panther exceeded even my high expectations.

The film’s brilliance is in the way it’s able to use the fictional country of Wakanda to present questions on isolationism and what a monarchy’s responsibility is to its people when the rest of the world screams for help.

It presents a villain who, much like Magneto in the X-men films, has a valid reason for why he does what he does. It’s a villain with such a solid motivation that, if it were any other film, he would be presented as the hero.

But this movie is not about him. It’s about T’Challa.

The film starts with the history of Wakanda. An alien meteor strikes earth on the land of Wakanda, bringing with it Vibraniam, an alien metal that will allow Wakanda to flourish. It also infects some of the vegetation on the earth. When eaten, the flowers give the consumer powers far beyond those of mortal man. The first Black Panther is born, and like a kingdom, the responsibility is passed down from father to son.

The film then starts in Oakland California in the early nineties. We witness a betrayal. The results of that betrayal will reverberate in T’Challa’s life.

That’s not to say he’s having it easy. He has claimed the throne in the most heartbreaking of ways. While he tries to navigate his newfound responsibilities, his rival, Eric Killmonger, is planning to infiltrate the secure country of Wakanda and reclaim a throne that he believes is rightfully his.

Though the above description may make it sound like the movie is a total drag, it’s anything but. There are many funny moments, especially the interaction between T’Challa and his sister Shuri.

And the Dora Milaje, a group of women warriors, is worth admission alone.

All in all, it’s a fantastic film with thought-provoking commentary on what the responsibly of a country with means is to the world. T’Challa learns that isolation is not the best strategy. Given the oppression minorities have faced, it’s obvious that the black panther feels he must make amends in some way.

The harm that his people did nothing to stop.

Any film that brings forth thought arguments for and against a nationalistic approach and doing it through the entertaining means of superheroism, is a film worth watching.

And re-watching, if you have the chance.

This is a guest review by Fernando Autran. DVD Street is not responsible for any of these views or opinions.

The Thor saga occupies a strange place within the Marvel universe. It’s like that weird cousin in your family or the mysterious friend of your friend that nobody quite likes, but they don’t hate either. What I’m trying to say is that the best way to describe the previous two Thor movies is they were average. Blame it on an uninspiring script or bad direction, but they didn’t leave much of an impression. The question is then, has Thor Ragnarok finally managed to shake the saga from its stupor? Well, I’m happy to say that it has.

The solution came by pouring a big glass of Guardians of the Galaxy essence into the mix, but don’t take this as a lack of originality. Director Taika Waititi managed to take the best elements, implant them seamlessly and make the movie truly his. The humour, the campiness, the colourful characters and settings, are all there to our delight. A feast for the eyes that oozes charisma.

However, an amazing setting is nothing without a good story filling it, and although it’s pretty good overall, there’s a bit of dissonance that drags the experience. You see, the problem is that Thor Ragnarok is two stories packed into one. On one hand, we have Thor and Hulk’s story on the planet Sakaar, and on the other, we have Hela’s conquest of Asgard. From the two, the first one is clearly the best, and the jumps to the second one feel more like an intrusion than a progression of the story. The movie could have been perfect for just the first story.

This is not fault of any of the actors, they all perform their roles perfectly. That said, I would like to give a special mention to Cate Blanchett. She does a fantastic Job as Hela, she devours every scene she’s in. In a movie with so many characters that fell larger than life, you truly believe her when she says she’s the goddess of death.

That said the stars of the movie are definitively the Hulk-Thor duo. The banter and puns between the two wouldn’t have work if there wasn’t chemistry between the actors, but they both deliver, giving us a hilarious performance. The sibling relationship between Thor and Loki also gets developed and although not as humorous, it carries a lot of the drama of the movie, and it helps develop Loki’s character.

I’m talking a lot about the acting and the story, what about the action? It’s pretty much what you can expect from a Marvel movie: frenetic, tense, and exciting without dragging too long. It doesn’t have anything to envy from Guardians of the Galaxy. It speaks volumes of Taika Waititi’s skill as a director that the serious and comedic moments never clash during the action, they nicely flow from one to the other.

Thor Ragnarok is probably the funniest Marvel movie to date. That is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The virtues do outnumber the flaws, but they do not suppress them. Marvel has found a good equilibrium between comedy, action, and drama, but when the moments that stand out the most are the jokes you run out the risk of taking away the gravity of the story. So far, the movie manages to stay on balance with a few missteps. Time will tell if they’re capable of maintaining that balance with the rest of the movies.

Before we go on, I must stand up and confess something about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What I’m about to say has nothing to do with the quality of the movie itself, I think it was great, and I enjoyed it a lot. That said, there’s something I must take off my chest. Okay, here it goes: I think it was a shameless copy of a new hope.

Yes, I can already see some of you snarking and rolling your eyes, but please stay with me just a bit longer. Again, as much as I enjoyed the movie, its lack of originality disappointed me a lot. I understand why Disney did it, there was too much riding on the film to take any risks.

That said, it’s my sincere hope that Star Wars: The Last Jedi, takes more risks, a new generation deserves new stories. Thankfully, I’m happy to say that based on the limited information available I think it’s on the right track. With that said here are 5 things to expect in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi:

1. The end of the Jedi.

I love Star Wars, I Love the Jedi, I love the Sith, but man I’m tired of the conflict between the two. You could quickly summarize the story of the whole galaxy as the war between the light side and the dark side, sometimes the light wins, and sometimes the dark wins, but in the end, nothing really changes. I get the feeling that Luke has finally understood this, the best he can do to end the cycle is to get rid of the Jedi once and for all.

2. The beginning of something new.

Rey and Kylo are force users, but at the same time, they’re something more. If as Luke said the Jedi are finished, then what will take their place? New sith? I don’t think so. I believe that Rey and Kylo will become a new kind of force users, with a preference for the light side or the dark side of course, but different. Perhaps they will become the “grey Jedis” everyone is talking about, a force user that seeks balance above everything else.

3. Luke won’t be Yoda, and Rey won’t be Luke.

It’s clear that Luke is going to be Rey’s mentor, what is not clear is the kind of relationship they will have. What we can see from the trailers and the information so far is that there’s going to be a lot of tension between the two. Luke has been described several times as jaded and cynical after the incident that destroyed his school. He’s terrified he’s going to make the same mistakes with Rey, and so he keeps her at a distance, not fully trusting her. This will certainly affect Rey’s development as a force user in ways it didn’t affect Luke.

4. The bigger picture will take form.

How are Kylo and Rey related? Are they even related at all? Who’s supreme leader Snoke? Why does he have an interest in Kylo and Rey? What happened between Luke and Kylo? A thousand theories surround these questions, some more solid than others. I’m not sure which ones will end being true, but what I know is this: this movie will answer those questions, or at least provide enough information to start discarding theories finally.

5. A war of influence and leadership.

The situation in the galaxy is different from previous Star Wars movies. Both the resistance and the first order suffered devastating loses and the collateral damage left the galaxy in chaos. As such, this means that the war will be as much as making alliances and gaining influence as it is about winning battles. The thing is Leia is old, and she’s exhausted. Perhaps we will see someone else take the mantle? Poe Dameron maybe?

This is a guest post by Fernando Autran.

One of the only redeeming qualities of the fall season is the holidays that follow. First up is Halloween, which is the best of the three. Christmas brings hope. New Year’s brings renewal. Halloween brings darkness and terror, and laughs in the face of impending death. It’s the sexiest of the three. It’s the holiday that comes to the party dressed in black, and doesn’t give a crap about your happiness or joy.

Halloween is Punk.

Halloween is also that time when one can indulge in fictional horrors through television and film. Many of us try to get into the spirit of the holiday through horror films and scary tv.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions that help you celebrate the macabre. At the very least, you’ll get a good fright.

  1. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (with special shout out to “IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN”)

For some of a certain age, Halloween didn’t kick off until you watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The story of Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive is as timeless as it is simple. It was a great kickoff to the holiday season.

Now, thanks to Netflix, a new holiday tradition has begun for the wee ones. Released in 1993, The film tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident of “Halloween town” who discovers a doorway to other holidays and, out of boredom, decides to take Santa’s place. It’s a delightfully dark film with memorable music and a fantastic score.

Netflix plays it every year now and Disney has caught on to its popularity. You can’t miss Nightmare products at the stores in October.

Watch it soon as the calendar changes. It will set the proper mood for the next 31 days.

  1. THE SHINING

For adults, Halloween often means two things: Dressing up as a “Sexy” Version of whatever’s hip in pop culture, and Scary movies. and while most often go for a slasher flick (like, say, “Halloween”) I tend to go for something with a bit more heft to it.

Something considered a classic of the cinema.

Something that originated from the mind of Stephen King.

THE SHINING has everything you would want in a horror film. A haunted hotel. A boy with the ability to see Ghosts. And a father consumed by madness until he becomes the lumbering monster with murder on the mind.

A suspenseful Classic, The Shining is the one to watch this Halloween . . . with the lights on.

  1. THE WALKING DEAD PILOT

Walking Dead is in its 8th season now, with no signs of slowing down. The Popular show has become the definitive Zombie horror story. And as story about survival against all odds

The Pilot episode stands out as a fantastic hour of horror television. It’s directed by Frank Darabont, and it’s the most cinematic episode of the series.

One scene stands out. Rick, walking down a dark corridor, with nothing to light the way but matches. It’s a close shot of his face, as he’s walking this hallway. Every few moments, the light extinguishes, and for a moment it’s pitch black. And then Rick lights another match. It’s the most suspenseful two minutes on TV. Seven years later I still remember it.

Watch the first episode for that scene alone.

  1. GHOSTBUSTER ‘84

It can’t be all Doom and Gloom, right? Sometimes you want something you can laugh at.

Ghostbusters (the 84 version) still holds up. Staring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Harold Ramis, the film tells the story of three paranormal scientist who figure out how to contain the supernatural and keep them from pestering society. The film was wildly popular, spawning a sequel, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a remake. Kids still dress up as Ghostbusters today, asking “Who You gonna Call?”

  1. STRANGER THINGS SEASON ONE AND TWO

And speaking of the eighties, “Stranger Things” Season 2 starts in time to take advantage of the holiday. The Second Season builds on what happened before and specifically, what happened to Will.

If you haven’t seen the first season, get on it. If you’ve wondered what a collaboration between Stephen King and Stephen Spielberg would have looked like, this is the closest you may get.

There are many ways that one gets into the Halloween spirit, but these five films and television programs are staples. They are but a small selection of media that can chill you to the bone and get your heart rate up. I recommend watching with the lights off and remember, it’s only make-believe.

And that knock at the window? It’s only the wind.

Or is it?