Shazam! was seen as a bit of a renaissance for DC and received plenty of positive reviews upon its release. High hopes will soon come crashing down to earth in a matter of minutes as you begin to realise that Shazam! is another poorly written, cheese fest from Marvel’s little cousin.
The foster family element of the film feels too saccharine and perfect as themes smack us round the face with about as much subtly as our hero’s transformation from human to superhero. It has a certain level of predictability and the conclusion feels dull as we’ve seen films end the same way about a million times. The actual superhero felt overdone and ultimately unbelievable as he shares almost no personality with Billy, the boy who acquires the power, it feels as if you are watching two entirely different people despite the fact that they’re supposed to be the same person.
Shazam! does have its moments and is an easy, fun watch but there’s a lot wrong with it and has nothing on the many other superior superhero films out there.
7. Alita: Battle Angel
James Cameron penned the script and Robert Rodriguez directed this CGI heavy, unimaginative sci-fi romp which received a fair few good reviews outweighing the negative. It’s puzzling to see how the majority liked Alita as it’s a film we’ve all seen ten thousand times disguised by a bombardment of special effects and poor writing.
The main storyline of a girl trying to find her identity and place in a world in which she was conceived rather than nurtured is a well-trodden path and Cameron can’t seem to keep the mega cringe out of his script for more than about 5 minutes with cliched and lazy dialogue. In fairness, it does look great which slightly covers up the cracks, but the story is too simplistic to make any of it impressive. Cameron seems to suit spectacle rather than substance and should probably have directed the film as it’s set in such a specific Cameron-esque world that it would be hard for even the most competent of directors to share his vision.
Alita is not memorable in the slightest and you’ll have forgotten about it within hours of seeing it.
8. A Hidden Life
Terrence Mallick has become incredibly hit and miss in recent times with reviews for his recent films experiencing a lot of criticism, although there are always a select few devotees who seem to think he’s a cinematic genius. A Hidden Life, as many have said is Mallick back to his best, praised for its beautiful visuals and powerful storytelling. No.
At three hours you know that you’re going to have to get fully on board with his meandering style and try and find beauty in things like fields, swaying grass and shots of mountains. A Hidden Life is no doubt an incredible story but Mallick has made it about as interesting and enjoyable as a three-hour advert for the Austrian countryside.
It’s not unfair to say that so much of the film is just plain dull, we get all the aforementioned shots of landscape and setting sun merged with scenes of little girls pottering about while their mother scythes corn. Mallick still finds a way of making this more indulgent with pondering monologues taken straight out of a brooding teenage artists diary about the sheer pain of the two protagonists being torn from each other. You really get the feeling whilst watching the film that Terrence Mallick thinks he’s the most profound man in the world and a studio would let him make a five-hour film with a solitary shot of a rock if he asked.
By the end you’re so bored that the message loses all impact thus turning a really interesting story into something instantly forgettable.
9. Apollo 11
The moon landing is an incredible achievement in human history and Apollo 11 delivers some extraordinary behind the scenes footage, but the trouble is; it’s just not that entertaining.
It’s all well and good watching the workings of the mission and the subject is very interesting but after a while the same grainy shots of communication rooms and the side of the rocket grow rather tiresome and the documentary lacks spark. Much like A Hidden Life a lot of it is unfortunately pretty dull and the spectacle grows less impressive by the minute. Some of the shots of scientists feel as if they’re mere wallpaper and you find yourself forgetting a lot of the mission detail when the film has finished, which is much of its strength and intrigue. Despite only being 93 minutes, it feels much longer which is never a good sign.
It’s in no way a bad documentary and worth seeing for all the brilliant archival footage, but with the near perfect reviews you have to ask, is it that good?
10. Doctor Sleep
It was always going to be hard to follow up an American horror classic like the Shining and Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep does an admirable job but a lot of it ends up feeling mediocre and half cooked despite the films mostly positive reception.
Doctor Sleep works best when it’s trying to do its own thing, the cheap looking imitations of scenes from The Shining ultimately feel cringey and ridiculous due to the fact that they’re never going to live up to the original’s definitive status. Ewan McGregor’s performance feels phoned in as he attempts to bring out his inner Jack Nicholson, which is pretty much impossible rendering his character somewhat unbelievable.
There are similarities between this and IT: Chapter Two not least because they’re both much too long and Doctor Sleep does start to wear on you towards the end at two and a half hours. It’s also not scary at all only featuring one or two rather gruesome scenes that don’t end up feeling very uncomfortable as it all looks rather fake. A few of the quirky special effect choices work and give the film a surreal feeling but it looks oddly cheap and lacks authenticity.
Everything about the film basically screams competent which is fine, but The Shining was far from just competent and Doctor Sleep turns out to be very disappointing.