DC isn’t taking its foot of the gas in the war for your cinema-going money as it takes on Marvel with another superhero movie, this time an anti-hero almost, if only we hadn’t had that already.
Shazam! strikes onto our screens, though it’s taken the long way round to get here, bringing us the back story to kid Billy Batson, Asher Angel (“Andi Mack (TV)”, “Asher Angel: Getaway [Short]”), before he becomes Shazam!, Zachary Levi (“Thor: Ragnarok“, “Chuck (TV)”).
Batson finds himself lost at a fairground when he’s a child and his mother, for some reason, doesn’t come looking for him, but he looks for her, running away from homes and families in the search for his own.
When he winds up with Victor Vasquez, Cooper Andrews (“The Walking Dead (TV)”, “Den Of Thieves“), and Rosa Vasquez, Marta Milans (“The Pier (TV)”, “Shame”), and their many, many orphan children, including Freddy Freeman, Jack Dylan Grazer (“It“, “Beautiful Boy”), he doesn’t realise what he has, though they do and eventually help him find his mother.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town Dr. Sivana, Mark Strong (“Kingsman: The Golden Circle“, “Miss Sloane“), has spent his life looking for the Wizard, Djimon Hounsou (“Captain Marvel“, “Serenity“), who gave him a chance to have some power when he was younger, a chance he now wants back.
But he doesn’t get that power, instead choosing the evil way, whilst Batson is given the good, turning him into Shazam! From here on out, our new superhero, who’s really a 13-year old kid, must find his superpowers whilst also finding his family, whilst our new supervillain tracks him down.
To kick things off Shazam! is funny, it has more than a few laugh out loud moments alongside its slightly silly nature and overdone superhero costumes.
The downside with Shazam! is that it’s far too long, over two-hours, and it takes an age to get to the actual superhero business. Leading up to that, the backstory, the orphan kid looking for a family when it’s right in front of him, is all too predictable.
You are always at least one-step ahead of the film and you feel like you’re waiting for it to catch up to you. We’ve seen it all before, we’ve seen it done better, and rather than skipping straight to the point, writers Henry Gayden (“Earth To Echo”, “Zombie Roadkill (TV)”) and Darren Lemke (“Goosebumps“, “Turbo”), laboriously go over every minutia of Batson’s backstory.
Even when Batson becomes Shazam! it feels like it takes an age for him to get the point, meanwhile you got it some time ago.
This is bad, obviously, and whilst the film is rated a 12A (the same as Iron Man) it feels like it’s aimed at a much younger market, a lot like a kids version of Deadpool, the end credits with the cartoon Shazam! don’t help the “here’s what we wanted to make” feeling.
Shazam! is a decent film, it’s funny, it has a good story, Levi is decent, Angel a touch too moody, Grazer is spot-on as always, I think we’re going to see great things from this kid, and you know what you’re getting with Strong, a strong, dependable performance (pardon the pun).
It’s a good film, funny and heart-warming, but it’s far too long and far too predictable to take on the might of Marvel, but let’s hope it sparks a DC comeback, it’s gonna’ be a shame when all we can watch is what Disney want us to see.
I’m too young to remember first-hand the siege that took place on April 30th1980 in which six armed gun-men took the occupants of the Iranian Embassy in London hostage.
I have, like many people, subsequently seen the footage of the Special Air Services (SAS) storming the embassy to bring the hostage situation to an end, but don’t ever remember knowing too much about the who and why.
Writer Glenn Standring (McLaren, Truth About Demons) and director Toa Fraser (The Dead Lands, Giselle) bring the story to the big screen.
Jamie Bell (Snowpiercer, The Adventures Of Tintin), stars as Rusty Firmin who was one of the 30-something SAS soldiers to take part in the original raid. He also later wrote a book about the siege and served as a technical advisor to the film.
Mark Strong (Kingsman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) plays Max Vernon, the main negotiator to the hostages during the siege with Abbie Cornish (Limitless, RoboCop) as BBC news presenter Kate Adie.
The six-men took the hostages and requested that Iran release 91 Arab prisoners. Iran refused to play-ball, instead saying they were happy for the hostages to be used as martyrs.
Whilst you may be hoping for a guns-blazing, embassy storming action flick, what you get focuses much more on the work of Mark Strong and the position he finds himself in whilst the powers that be in Whitehall discuss what to do.
Tim Pigott-Smith (Gangs Of New York, Quantum Of Solace) plays Margaret Thatcher’s right-hand man, the one telling Robert Portal (The King’s Speech, The Iron Lady), Colonel Mike Rose of the SAS, what she wants to do.
Exactly what Thatcher wanted to do has gone on to be the hard-line and default way Britain now deals with terrorists.
Despite the SAS coming up with numerous plans that involved not storming the embassy, something they didn’t want to entertain as there were too many unknowns, Thatcher wanted to show the world how Britain dealt with terrorists.
She ordered that, should a hostage be killed, the SAS should storm the embassy, night or day, in full view of the world’s press that were camped outside.
As we follow the sterling work Vernon does as he tries to negotiate with the terrorists despite a lack of help from other countries, including Iran, Jamie Bell and co plan for an attack.
They look at various options, from a storm, giving the terrorists a bus and taking them at Heathrow, even creeping into the embassy at night and taking the men out whilst they sleep. Something Whitehall refuses for fear of it being branded an ‘SAS assassination’.
In the end, Thatcher got what she wanted as Vernon is unable to deliver on any of the terrorists demands and they, after six days, lose patient and kill a hostage.
The subsequent raid doesn’t go entirely smoothly, with one of the SAS getting caught up as he abseils down the side of the building, but just two hostages were killed, both by the terrorists.
The film uses a good mix of original footage and original news stories mixed into the modern take. This then, makes Abbie Cornish’s portrayal of Kate Adie a little odd.
I don’t see why they didn’t use the original footage as they do elsewhere. I found Cornish’s portrayal aggravating, as if she was trying to portray Adie on a sketch show.
Apart from that, and the relatively slow pace until the storm in the last five minutes, 6 Days is a good film.
Both Mark Strong and Jamie Bell are fantastic in their roles. Strong as the negotiator caught between a rock and a hard place whilst Bell wonderfully shows the frustration as the SAS gear-up then stand down, then gear-up again, then stand down again before finally getting the green light.
6 Days may not be perfect, but it does a good job of bringing the tension to a situation where most people will already know the outcome.