The State of the Movies: Joker – Is it Really Worth all the Trouble?

Joker is a new comic book movie that recounts the origin of renowned comic book villain Joker. It stars Joaquin Pheonix as the titular character and is directed by Todd Phillips, the director of the Hangover Trilogy.

If you roam social media at all you’ll know that many are almost afraid of this movie. They argue that this will inspire more mass shootings from disgruntled individuals which is something nobody obviously wants to have happened. When I first heard these arguments made though, I shrugged them off and thought we would stop talking about this once the movie actually comes out. I never was one to believe that media will cause violence, and I still hold that stance to this day. But then more users started weighing in on the discussion and they started getting intense about it too. This is something that tends to happen whenever you browse a social media platform, especially Twitter. A person with extreme opinions will usually be rewarded with clout and it makes for an incredibly toxic place to have a public discussion. I for the most part never chose to comment until I actually saw the movie but I still held my argument that media does not and will not cause violence.

The MSM began to almost slander the movie in any way they could in an effort to make film-goers “beware the joker movie”. Article after article was released with varying headlines some of which included a report that the US Military issued a warning for Joker screenings and that NYPD officers would be going undercover attending screenings of the movie to stop anyone who has any tricks up their sleeves. They reported on it so much they were almost subliminally begging for someone to shoot up a screening of Joker just so they could get those “I told ya so” clicks. It felt really uncomfortable to browse and even a little scummy.

The movie finally premiered last Thursday and the 70mm screening I attended at the Grossmont Center was equipped with more security than normal. Before the film started, employees went up to several audience members and asked to inspect their bags on the spot. It was safe to say for theaters, safety was a number one priority, which is great. I just question the media’s rampant reporting of the film in such a way.

An example of a headline warning its viewers about the “dangers” of Joker.
This one came out after the movie was released, likely because people had now seen the movie and they were no longer able to frame this movie as a dangerous one. This is clearly reaching for any amount of outrage to be generated and is extremely meaningless at that (just so we’re clear, statutory rape is bad, but this is not relevant to the movie in question).
The most accurate way to describe the way the MSM is treating Joker at the moment.

Having seen the movie now I can understand why critics do not like this movie. I don’t agree with them at all, but it is understandable. The movie is very critical of modern SOCIETY (as the meme goes) and even the media and the facade of wholesome values they try to display. The film was shocking for me not because I found its message controversial but because I was surprised a major film distributor like Warner Bros. went ahead and released a film with this message. I’m really glad they did though because I think this is a movie that will be talked about for a long time.

This is a bold and daring picture that asks its audience harsh questions about the way we treat others and the effects those actions have on our modern world. It also highlights the dangers of what can happen when one disgruntled person feels as if they’ve been abandoned by society and even what we can do to prevent this from happening. I would say this film promotes mental health care and the coming together of classes more than it does violence.

In order to make a case in point as to why I believe this is not only a phenomenal but important as well, I once again will want to discuss this movie with SPOILERS. If you’re at all curious about this movie, you should definitely rush out and see this movie. It has a brilliant and even at times challenging message that is complimented by gorgeous cinematography, great acting, and extremely tense and uncomfortable moments. It may be challenging to watch for some viewers, but it’s definitely worth your time and attention.

*****SPOILERS*****

Joker is a movie about a man who slowly discovers who he is and how the world truly feels about people like him.

From the first few moments of Joker we’re told that Gotham City is in its worst state yet. The city is run by loads of trash and super rats (Google pictures of them, they’re disgusting), and the working class are struggling to live and survive in such horrible conditions. We are then introduced to Arthur Fleck, a clown for hire, who lives with his mother in a disgusting dilapidated apartment in the middle of the most trash-filled areas of Gotham. We also are told that he regularly attends his therapist sessions in which we find out that he has a mental condition in which he laughs hysterically whenever he gets nervous. The therapist asks to see his journal and she finds the statement, “I just hope my death makes more cents than my life”. This suggests that Arthur possibly suffers from frequent suicidal thoughts as well.

From the first moment Arthur arrives home, we see his mother ask him if they have received a written response to her letter from Thomas Wayne, a very wealthy businessman running for mayor who she once worked as a maid for in their manor. We find she writes to him in hopes that they can get them out of the old apartment and maybe into a newer cleaner place to live. The mother, Penny, insists to Arthur that Mr. Wayne and her have a “very special connection” that she simply cannot explain.

Things start to turn worse for Arthur though after he’s fired from his job as a clown after he accidentally drops a gun a co-worker gave to him for protection during a performance (the opening scene of the film involves Arthur being jumped by a group of street kids). The first moment of “grace” comes for Arthur while on the way home on the subway when a group of wall street boys harasses Arthur which leads him to use the gun he was fired over to shoot and murder them on the spot. He also finds out that Gotham has cut funding for mental health, meaning he will no longer be able to talk to any doctors or receive his medication.

Arthur also finds a new letter that Penny writes to Thomas Wayne that reveals that he possibly is in fact Arthur’s father. Arthur becomes understandably distraught that his mother never told him about this and he takes action into his own hands and visits Mr. Wayne himself. He is sent away by Alfred after he performs magic tricks for a young Bruce Wayne but Arthur is able to eventually track Mr. Wayne down in the bathroom of an old movie theater. This is when Mr. Wayne reveals to Arthur that Penny is actually mentally insane and adopted Arthur.

This leads him down an even deeper rabbit hole as he gains access to Penny’s personal medical files while she was incarcerated at Arkham Asylum. This is when he realizes that his adopted mother abused him as a child as he was tied to a radiator and beaten over the head. To make things worse, after Arthur finally has the courage to go on stage at a comedy club and pursue his dream of stand up comedy, the clip of him bombing on stage is found by famed talk show host “Murray Franklin” who mocks Arthur for his uncontrollable laughter and unfunny jokes. The stage is now set for Arthur as he slowly begins to realize that nobody actually cares about him and that his life has been a lie.

Arthur finding out the way he has been mistreated is ultimately what causes him to snap and seek revenge.

The more information Arthur receives about his life and the world around him, the more he boils and eventually reaches a breaking point. He first seeks revenge on his mother who is in the hospital as a result of a heart attack and suffocates her with a pillow. He then shortly after receives a phone call from a representative for “The Murray Franklin Show” who mentions that Murray wants to invite him to the show. As he’s getting ready for the show, a few former co-workers come by and visit Arthur just to check in on him to see how he was doing during these times. One of these co-workers, the man who gave the gun to Arthur, also framed him as he told their boss he asked him for the gun which was never the case. He gets revenge on this man and stabs him in the eye and throat with a pair of scissors, and the other co-worker, who happens to be a little person, runs away in fear.

In one of my favorite moments of the film, Arthur dismisses the man as he “had always been nice to him” and as he tries to leave, he realizes he can’t reach the lock on the door to open it. This is an incredibly suspenseful scene and one that seems accurate to the persona of the Joker. You never know what he wants to do next or how he’s going to treat his victims right before he ultimately does his worst onto them.

Arthur finally arrives on the set of the show afterward in his clown get up and he admits to everyone on national television that he was the one that in fact murdered the boys on the subway, a moment which this movie earlier explains has started a riot in the city of Gotham. Rioters wear clown masks and cause chaos on the streets as they finally begin to protest the horrible conditions they have been forced to suffer for so long.

Once Arthur admits to every one of his crimes, he challenges the audience’s horror as he says “if it were me being killed you’d walk right over me and no one would bat an eye”. He then shoots Murray Franklin in the face on national television and everyone runs away in horror. The movie ends with rioters lifting the Joker in celebration of everything he’s done for the common man and he is eventually incarcerated (likely at Arkham Asylum as well) where he murders a therapist there who only seeks to help Arthur.

Joker is a film that teaches you to love and respect others rather than incite pain and suffering onto them.

One of my favorite aspects of this movie is its themes about the actions we inflict on each other and the possible consequences of those actions. The truth is in this movie there are no good guys. Obviously Arthur Fleck is not a good person, but neither is Thomas Wayne, Penny Fleck, or even Murray Franklin. They all represent a form of evil that really shapes the chaos that is society in Gotham City. Thomas Wayne and Murray Franklin act as the rich elite who put on their own masks as they pretend to care about the working class below them in an effort to win the sympathy and respect of society. Penny and Arthur Fleck both represent the evil that rises as a result of a society that seemingly abandons those who need help the most.

One of the biggest messages I personally picked up from this movie is no matter who you are or where you stand in the world, always show love and respect to all your brothers and sisters around you. Your actions towards others really could mean more than you possibly realize. The film forces you to consider if looking down upon those less fortunate than ourselves leaves us responsible for the madness and chaos we bring onto others even if we aren’t the ones pulling the trigger. It’s understandable if some may find that idea abhorrent as that is admittedly a very controversial concept to promote.

I loved though that this movie actually had the balls to give this harsh reality check to its audience. It’s especially a different and even harsh take on the ongoing debate of what our government needs to do to prevent more mass shootings from occurring. I truly think we need a movie like this to really highlight what really causes a monster to rise and what we, the average person, can do to prevent it if the government refuses to get involved.

This film is very controversial but I would argue that Director Todd Phillips intentionally designed the movie to be this way.

Without delving too much into modern politics, this film widely ignores and even rebuts talking points that the MSM today chooses to continually regurgitate onto its viewers. The film is mostly anti-rich liberal elite and anti-media. One argument some commentators have pointed out is that the movie possibly argues against cancel culture when Murray Franklin mocks Arthur for his bad jokes on stage.

Although this is possible given that the director Todd Phillips did come out recently criticizing the sensitivity of “woke leftists” (as he puts it) when it comes to humor, I would argue this moment more serves as a way to express that big elite personalities really only care about the common man when they can benefit in viewership and profits. I think this is a bigger blow to obnoxious late-night talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert who really only seem to discuss politics and issues in American society as a way to generate more viewership rather than toxic cancel culture that celebrities and random internet users love to promote.

Thomas Wayne too represents every fake politician who claims to serve the public but instead only really cares about themselves. Some may argue this is a blow to Donald Trump, and while that is the easy go-to person to compare Thomas Wayne to, I think it more accurately reflects the fake nature of any politician and even the MSM. The media similarly seems to only care about issues, just like late-night talk show hosts, to generate clicks and traffic onto their outlets.

The people of Gotham City are suffering from trash and rat infestation and all anyone can think about is how three white wall street boys were murdered on the subway. This hit home for me too because as someone who is from Los Angeles, I see the growing amount of trash on the streets due to homelessness and even the growing number of rats in the city. I just wished politicians did more to help these people and that the media reported on these issues more.

Los Angeles is a complete disaster at the moment and nobody really seems to be doing anything about it. In that way, I think Gotham City is very similar to Los Angeles and Phillips perhaps even developed this metaphor intentionally to criticize the current state of the city. This film is very timely and relevant to today’s world but it never feels like it’s pandering to you. You feel like a smarter person after you’ve watched it and truthfully it will get you to think about its themes long after you finished viewing the film. I’m still thinking about it now and I saw the movie a week ago. It will be interesting to see if this film holds up with time but I’m really happy that this movie has been an eye-opener for some.

Only time will tell if this movie holds up but as of now, I believe this movie is, in fact, a masterpiece.

I recently saw Ad Astra and thought that was my favorite movie of the year due to its visuals and complex characters, but this instead takes the cake for me. I will go so far as to say I believe at the moment that Joker is one of the best movies not only of the year, but the decade as well. I haven’t even mentioned yet that Joaquin Phoenix gave a phenomenal performance! He really understood the nature of Arthur Fleck’s character and embodies him so well. I forgot I was watching Joaquin Pheonix on the screen and believed I was seeing a character who is truly going mad. This film is powerful, intense, beautifully shot and at times challenging to watch. I think the fact that it is controversial and so divisive among critics is what makes this movie more special for me. I think movies that are masterpieces are going to be ones that really challenge the viewer to think in new ways while being presented in a beautiful and interesting way.

What may stop this movie from being a masterpiece in the future is that although this movie looks gorgeous as the colors are vibrant and vivid and the production design is lively and intricate, the film is admittedly somewhat basic when it comes to the cinematography. There were never any intricate or complex shots that I found myself really admiring, it mostly relies on its colors and the actors surrounding the environment to give it beauty. At that point, though this is me really reaching to find a flaw with it, but I still think this movie is wonderful. If you’ve made it to this point and still have not seen the movie yet, well what are you waiting for? Rush out and see this movie as soon as you can if you find yourself intrigued even in the slightest.

Also for all San Diegans and SDSU students, I want to personally recommend that you see this film at the Reading Cinemas at the Grossmont Center as I did in 70mm film. It’s only $10 for a ticket and there’s so much beauty to each and every one of these shots when presented on film that you simply are not going to get out of a digital showing. This blog is NOT sponsored by the cinema, it merely is a recommendation for film buffs in San Diego.

I know I said the word “society” a lot in this blog post, and I know it’s become such a meme to say “we live in a society” at this point I would feel embarrassed not to acknowledge it. So here you go, enjoy this meme:
Written by Christian Scognamillo
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Joker is a new comic book movie that recounts the origin of renowned comic book villain Joker.

We take look here at the new film Joker. Not just the quality of the film but the controversy surrounding it as well and if it’s justified.

The State of the Movies: Ad Astra – A Beautiful, Slow, and Strange Masterpiece

An intergalactic film that explores themes of the imminent future and the search for truth, Ad Astra is an engaging and visually spectacular movie standout.

Ad Astra is one of the most fascinating movies I’ve seen in a while. Directed by James Gray of The Lost City of Z, it’s a film I can safely say is one of my favorite movies of the year. It’s been getting a lot of mixed reviews though as critics and audiences seem to either love or hate this movie. It’s purposely methodical and slow which is bound to frustrate the average moviegoer, but also beautifully shot and extremely complex in its themes despite a simple narrative.

I have seen the movie twice now and both times were very different experiences for me. I was shocked the first time I saw it by its amazing cinematography and visual effects, but more invested in its narrative the second time. This is a very lonely and even at times depressing movie as Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt, searches for his father who is likely up to no good billions of miles away. This is a film that I feel deserves to be discussed in detail. In order to do so, I will need to discuss SPOILERS for the film for the rest of this article. My recommendation to you all is if you’re at least curious about it, try to see it once in the theater and give it a chance, but if you don’t like these types of slow space odyssey like films and were never interested in this film to begin with, you may not find much to win you over. With that being said, let’s discuss this movie in detail from the visual aspects to its themes and ideas.

Check out the trailer released by IMAX here:

One of its strongest themes is the effect space travel can have on a human being and how this can damage someone psychologically. *****SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE*****

The film starts off in the near future where mankind now has the resources to be able to dedicate more time to discovering space. Some countries, particularly the United States, now have stations set up on the moon and in Mars where research is conducted and where space travel commences. It is revealed that Clifford McBride, played by Tommy Lee Jones, began a mission known as the Lima Project many years ago in an effort to discover intelligent alien life to hopefully help humans in the continued discovery of our universe. That mission had since seemingly ended but power surges are now being emitted from the capsule which is destroying bases in space and killing innocent civilians both on Earth and in space. One of these power surges directly affects Roy, Clifford’s son, who, while repairing a satellite in the sky, experiences one of these power surges which propels him off the structure towards Earth. He then is ordered on a mission to Mars to attempt to make communication with his father to see if they can grab his attention so they can track his location and hopefully figure out a way stop these surges.

One of my favorite aspects of the movie is this film’s depiction of the future and the society that surrounds it. As Roy departs for his journey, he must first travel to the moon to reach the base and meet his team that will take him to Mars. They order Roy to travel “commercially”, which this film introduces as a concept, in order to keep a low profile. We also find once Roy has gotten to the moon that there seems to be a little society which has formed there as there is now an airport with restaurant locations like Applebee’s, Yoshinoya, and Subway. This film’s depiction of the future and settlement of intergalactic territories almost reminded me of Rick and Morty in its realism and attention to detail. It was interesting too to find that nations are still fighting over territory on the moon as a Virgin Atlantic PSA warns its passengers to stay in safe spaces as they could be caught in the middle of a war zone if they go outside the safe lines. I can’t help but wonder how many years it will be until humanity has colonized the moon and it becomes widely accepted for passengers to travel to the moon commercially.

One criticism many people had with this movie is that some scenes felt “pointless”.

A scene involving Roy traveling through a war zone in order to get to the military base and a scene in which Roy’s crew responds to a mayday call on the way to Mars some critics determined were exciting but ultimately pointless to the main story. I would argue that these scenes are important as they either develop the environment or the characters in question. The rover scene provides proof to the audience that the moon is essentially a huge war zone. The mayday call scene, however, involves Roy’s crew finding an abandoned craft in which a couple of space primates have broken loose and killed everyone on board. Roy and his crew are able to destroy the chimps but it still seems to have a negative effect on Roy. It is mentioned earlier in the film that Roy’s pulse is never above 80 bpm which means that his anxiety levels remain consistently low. He is forced to take seemingly daily psychological evaluations in order to ensure that it is safe for him to continue on the mission and it is events like this that test him as a competent astronaut. Some have criticized Roy’s character to be dull because Brad Pitt is forced to give an emotionless and calm performance, but it did not bother me as I acknowledge that Roy’s emotionless expressions make up his character. Other actors would have tried to go big in their performance, but Pitt always keeps his performance laid back and subdued which I think is extremely fitting for a character who is forced to remain calm in order to go deeper into space.

One of the most marketed scenes in the trailers that critics found exciting but pointless. See the clip here:

Once Roy gets to Mars he finds that his father is still in his capsule in Neptune, likely still searching for intelligent life. The people in charge of the base at Mars, Space Command, refuse to let Roy travel on the mission to Neptune. It isn’t until later when we find out that the reason is that Roy’s father actually murdered his crew after they hesitated to go beyond the solar system to keep finding alien life. Since it would ruin the reputation of Space Command given that they’ve been able to spread the narrative that his father was a hero for so long, they refuse to let him continue on this journey to find his father. He is able to stow away on the rocket to Mars, but he is forced to kill everyone on board as they try to attack him once he gets on. He must now travel from Mars to Neptune all by himself, a journey which theoretically would take him over 10 years. This is one of the issues I do have with the movie. Although we feel the effects time has on the character psychologically, it never really is shown physically. Roy’s hair never turns grey, his skin doesn’t begin to wrinkle, he looks as if he was the same age by the time he gets to Neptune and by the time he gets home (which again could span over 20 years).

Once Roy reaches Neptune he finds his father still alive as well as the malfunctioning antimatter causing the surges throughout the solar system. Clifford refuses to go home with his son and at this moment admits that he never cared about him or his well being and only really cares to successfully complete his mission. Even though Roy is able to get his father to leave the capsule with him so he can blow it up, Clifford refuses to go home with Roy and forces him to let go. Roy, likely acknowledging the hurt Clifford has caused him, unhooks him from the tether they both are connected to, ultimately killing his own father in the process. The audience at this point now knows that this is the most challenging moment Roy has ever faced as he’s forced to confront the harsh reality that his father is not who he thought he was and further act upon this realization. And even through this, Roy still doesn’t lose his temper or have a mental breakdown as an average audience member may expect him to. I originally did not like the ending of this movie as I thought it was a somewhat disappointing conclusion to a largely built-up story, but upon second viewing I found I liked the ending given that Roy was able to finally gain closure in his life and accept his father for who he truly is.

Ad Astra is the type of movie any serious lover of film needs to see at least once

Ad Astra is a movie I love to death and I think any fan of movies should check out as soon as they can. This is not your average movie-going experience and is definitely not something you watch on a date maybe for fun. James Gray has created a deep, complex, and lonely tale of a man who must accept the reality his father is not the man he thought he was through an interstellar journey. Many people are also going to call this a rip off of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I too noticed the similarity between the two movies. But what kept this movie consistently engaging for me though was the main character and the journey he took. Gray’s direction and the cinematography as done excellently by Hoyte Van Hoytema is just icing on the cake to this intergalactic masterpiece. See this on the biggest screen you can, and I hope you all enjoy!

Written by: Christian Scognamillo

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Avengers Endgame: Analysis, Themes, and Theories

Despite some plot holes and other minor complaints, Avengers: Endgame is great, and all Marvel fans should rush out to see it!

Avengers: Endgame is finally here! I have been so excited to see this movie, and I know you guys have been too. It seems like everyone and their grandma has seen this movie by now. It’s everything it’s hyped up to be, the culmination of eleven years of movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is it. This is the finale! Just like for the film, Us, I will be doing a spoiler filled analysis of this movie. The trailers of this movie give so little away that any little aspect of the plot I discuss with you would be considered a spoiler. I will be sure to let you know when I am about to spoil the movie before it happens. If you’re wondering if this film is “worth your time”, the answer is absolutely! This film is an epic cinematic event that any Marvel fan should see as soon as they can! The film is wonderfully and impressively constructed, and despite its lack of “artistic aspects” as some people have complained about with this film, you can’t deny that as a fan this is hugely satisfying! So, yes, see this film as soon as you can, and see it in IMAX because the whole film was shot using their cameras. This means that the film will be presented in an expanded aspect ratio then you get in any other showing, and I can safely say it looks very nice on the big screen.

SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE YET! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

I will admit that I was mostly surprised at the direction this film decided to take. That being they decided to have this film take place five years after the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Although looking back this decision makes the most sense for the characters and for the plot, it’s disappointing that they kill Thanos off as easy as they do in the beginning. I was so looking forward to seeing Thanos confront the Avengers once again, and although it happens, it’s much more anti climatic then you’d expect. In the beginning of this movie, Thanos has his own farm, he’s retired, and has even destroyed the Infinity Stones. When the Avengers realize this, they beat him up, and Thor slices off Thanos’ head with his ax. Thor then talks off into the distance as the camera goes out of focus and the film slowly cuts to five years later.

We then see as the characters try to get over their losses and the lives they lead after the events of Infinity War. There’s trash all over cities, everyone’s pissed off all the time, and plants are not being attended to. We see as Captain America leads a support group to help everyone get over the loss of their loved ones, Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow, takes calls from other members of the Avengers, and Thor lives at the remote little civilization of New Asgard where he is an alcoholic that plays Fortnite with his friend Korg, who thankfully is still alive. The only one who seems to have truly moved on is Tony Stark, Iron Man, who is now married to Pepper Potts and has a daughter. Also, ummmmm Bruce Banner, who is now professor Hulk, dabs while taking a picture with some fans, so there’s that. Anyways, the possibility of time travel becomes relevant when the Avengers discover that Scott Lang has been through the quantum realm in what felt like five hours. This is when Tony Stark uses what he knows about the quantum realm to figure out time travel, and when they decide to try to go back in time to retrieve the stones. They explain that this would be better than perhaps killing baby Thanos stopping him from ever getting the stones in the first place because going back in time and changing something only makes a new timeline.

I understand the reasoning behind the rules they present, but the problem is that it makes this movie very complicated and hard to follow.

If you haven’t noticed, the rules that this film presents for time travel is unconventional to what we are used to seeing in films. This makes time travel aspect of the movie very complicated and difficult to follow. I understand why they chose to go with the rules they have here, but I don’t think it worked as well as they thought it would. They seem to break their own rules when Captain America at the end, after he delivers the Infinity Stones back to where they belong, decides to live a life with Peggy Carter, only to have him meet Bucky and Sam back at the bench as an old man in order to give him back the shield. How is Steve able to meet Sam and Bucky back on the bench many years after he reunites with Peggy? Shouldn’t he now just be gone forever living in a different timeline? It’s very confusing and honestly doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it wraps up an arc for Steve’s character, and it feels very satisfying.

What makes this film as exciting and fun to watch, though, is that climatic final battle!

It’s no secret that what everyone truly came here for was that climatic final battle at the end of the film, and wow it is insane! Every major character you’ve ever known from the MCU (except Black Widow of course) is there fighting Thanos and his huge army, and everyone’s entrance is incredible! It’s so satisfying to see all these characters who were once killed in Infinity War come back from the dead fully ready to fight Thanos. Both times I saw the film, people seemed to have a very strong reaction when Spider-Man appeared again, given that his death was one of the most emotional from Infinity War. And don’t forget, of course, when Captain America finally becomes worthy of the hammer Mjonlir, and uses it to fight Thanos. That was incredible! Another stand out moment was seeing Captain America summon Mjonlir towards him as all the Avengers came together to fight Thanos where he utters the line “Avengers…. assemble”. This was for sure the best part of the movie, and definitely worth the price of a ticket alone.
The only disappointing element of the fight is that the Thanos they fight is one from 2014 after their time travel mission goes wrong, as opposed to the one we grew to know in Infinity War. Other than that, I absolutely loved this scene and thought it was a blast!

Despite its flaws, this film is everything I wanted it to be and more!

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I’d be surprised! Avengers: Endgame is a blast! Even when the plot gets complicated or don’t make sense, the film still feels satisfying and important! It may be a little long and you can definitely feel the length, but the film is nothing short of spectacular! It is already one of my favorite movies of the year, and I’m excited to see it for a third time this weekend! I feel like I certainly neglected to discuss some aspect of the movie here, but I feel that everything that needs to be said about this movie has already been said. Everyone’s seen it and talked about it to death at this point. At this point, I feel like a fan boy talking to a bunch of people on an online forum who have already seen the movie and have developed very similar thoughts on it. I’m so happy the Marvel movies have been as good as they have been for this long and I hope that they continue to keep it up for many more years to come!

So that has been all my film reviews for this semester! And wow what a great film to wrap up the semester with! It’s been a blast talking about these movies and I hope you’ve all enjoyed too. My hope is that I’ve been able to encourage others to think about the films they see differently and to think more analytically about them. Filmmaking is one of the most tiring and stressful crafts out there, and I know as a fellow TFM student how it is. But in the end of the day, making your own art and viewing other people’s art is a ton of fun to me! I hope I can keep talking about films and making films next semester, and I hope I can continue to share that with you all next semester! You’re probably going to see a change in content next semester, but I promise it’s not gonna let you down! So with all that said and done, stay safe and have a great summer! Go Aztecs!

Written by: Christian Scognamillo

Is Shazam! Worth Your Time?

Shazam! is a very fun, likable, superhero film! One of the best in the DCEU!

Shazam! (not the music app on your phone) was directed by David F. Sandberg and stars Zachary Levi. The best way to describe this movie is the superhero version of Big, starring Tom Hanks. In this film, young Billy Batson is a foster child who was abandoned by his mother when he was very young, and now roams from place to place looking for his mother once again, while running off from all the foster homes who attempt to take care of him. However, he one day gets zapped away while on a subway in Philadelphia, and meets the wizard Shazam who quickly informs Billy that he needs to transfers his powers to him in order to fight an oncoming threat. When the wizards manages to do so, Billy finds that he now becomes a god like super hero whenever he yells the word “Shazam!”. Not knowing how to handle these powers, he gets help from his roommate, Freddy Freeman, who helps him test out what powers he does and doesn’t have.

Shazam! was a ton of fun! Super light hearted, very funny, and very touching. This seems to be the DCEU film with the most amount of heart and thought placed into it. I still think Aquaman is better for its technical scope and as an epic action film, but Shazam! is a better film altogether, despite its down to earth setting.

The film doesn’t really boast much visual grandeur. Instead, it simply gives the audience a good experience.

Shazam! definitely seems to be a movie that is more concerned with developing its characters and its themes rather than boasting grand action scenes with elaborate cinematography. I will say, at times I was disappointed as I wish this film could have more epic action scenes and grand shots, but I really admired the characters and the journeys they all went through. Billy Batson is a very likable character that I found myself rooting for given his snarky personality and tragic backstory. Freddy Freeman was a character I really admired as I found myself oftentimes relating to him, which was a pleasant surprise. He tries to be very funny and in your face, but ends up coming off as aggressive which is a struggle I know many kids can definitely relate to. These two characters essentially make up this entire film. The relationships Billy develops with every character, in fact, is really the bread and butter of this film. It was really fun seeing Billy Batson as “Shazam” as he does many things that a fourteen year old boy would absolutely do if he was able to transform into an adult himself. Although many of these moments are expected and even at times obvious, having the added factor of him being a super hero as well made these moments not feel tired.

After seeing this film I was able to discern a trend that seems to be going on in many Hollywood films. Many of these films disguise themselves as Hollywood blockbusters, but actually end up serving as coming of age comedies instead. The first instance I would say where I noticed this recent trend was in Spider-Man: Homecomig and Bumblebee, and Shazam! seems to follow in that trend. When I realized this is what has been happening in films recently, I initially wasn’t sure what to think. One the one hand this is a flawed concept as we go to coming of age comedies and blockbuster films on different occasions depending on the mood, but it also serves as an opportunity to present some very clever and creative stories that could potentially be interesting on a budget. Personally, I probably wouldn’t make a movie like this because I think what makes them both work are very different, but I can understand that from a business decision, this makes sense. My one hope for this trend going forward, however, is that they can manage to properly mix the tones that these movies intend to present so that it doesn’t feel uneven. That’s been my main issue with these movies so far, and that is my main issue with Shazam!. The characters and the struggles they go through are great, but it undermines the action at times. It’s almost as if the action really isn’t given a ton of time to shine, which is unfortunate. With that being said, I’m curious to see the route in which these movies will take, and I even support it.

So do I think you should See Shazam?

Yes, I absolutely think you should see Shazam! at some point if you haven’t already. I know that will be challenging as Avengers: Endgame is right around the corner, and this movie came out about a month ago, but I feel that it is at some point worth your time. The movie is an absolute delight from start to finish and I think it is a great time for all. The characters are great, the story can get very interesting and even at times dark, and the action scenes, while not spectacular, are fun and offer some fun surprises too. If you are concerned because you feel DC has never made a good movie in their own cinematic universe, I think you’ll find yourself enjoying this one. From the reviews I’ve seen, it has even the toughest of film critics cheering and on board, which is awesome!

Written by: Christian Scognamillo