My initial take on Shazam was going to be that by the time the liquor store scene comes around, in which Billy (Asher Angel/Zachary Levi) and Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) uses Billy’s newfound superhero transformation powers to go to buy some cheap beer, only to find out that beer is absolutely disgusting— it’s pretty clear that Shazam has a spark; a spark that sets it apart from every other DC releases thus far. A spark that makes the experience of watching it in theaters an absolute joy all the way through despite all of its studio blemishes, and that spark is a soul. But I remembered how great that dinner table scene with Billy and Freddy is and I realized that I lied, actually. This movie has two sparks in its arsenal, the other being sublime child performances. With these two simple but crucial traits, Shazam manages to overcome most of its own hurdles to cement it as the absolute best and most satisfying DCEU release so far.
This is an exciting video this month for many reasons! First, this is the first time we’ve reached out to Twitter to choose the theme for the video. On March 3rd, we posted a poll asking you all what actress would you like to see spotlighted and the people have spoken! And here we are, with a Rachel Weisz supercut set to Mitski. But another reason why this is such a special post is that it marks the debut of Lucy (@iconicaesthetic) on our video team. That’s right, video TEAM! Here at Much Ado, we’ve ganged up and now we’re working on new types of content that you’ll be seeing very soon. There will still be lots of supercuts coming, but there’s a lot more in store for us in the future.
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The power of great genre films, to me, is that they are able to tackle larger abstractions and broad truths about humanity under layers of subtext, whilst still letting us go through an out of this world, moviegoing experience. When I think of the idea of the doppelganger, a traditional horror/sci-fi staple, the being that looks exactly like ourselves invading our own bubbles, I think of the stories that often seek to shed light on our own insecurities. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Possession, and more recently, Annihilation and Enemy, all films that use this specific symbol are based on a destructive, human feeling; a depressive itch you can’t scratch, the demon on your shoulder telling you that you’re not quite the person you project yourself to be. My relationship with social media in the last few months has made me realize that this imposter syndrome I feel is a mode of my own living, but when I’m aware of it, there lies an insidious feeling in my gut, and my sense of self melts away. All of these concepts were stirred up in my brain once again, but this time, instead of just the focus on the self, there’s a broader statement here about our society as a whole. This is America. This is Us.
Jordan Peele’s Us is the sophomore follow-up to his Academy-Award winning social horror thriller, Get Out, which took the film landscape by storm. While following up a film like Get Out is an immense amount of pressure, Peele handles it with so much grace. Here he is, channeling that history he made with his debut and recentering the energy into something entirely new. Just add in Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elisabeth Moss, and you have a mid-level budget effort that feels so much like an event film of its own. While previously he worked with Blumhouse, which houses a specific model for their films, Peele now has his screenwriting Oscar, a production company of his own, Monkeypaw Productions, and an unhinged amount of ambition to craft yet another social horror film to instigate our worst nightmares and how they blend with our own reality.
It’s all been building up to this! Sure, this season might be bleak, but that doesn’t mean we should stop celebrating our love for film and filmmaking! We’re hoping that at the very least, our second annual Oscar nominees video gives you some joy in spite of the incoming doom. Like Lady Gaga’s rendition of “La Vie En Rose” from A Star Is Born, we hope your night is glamorous and star-studded.
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No one, absolutely no one, could have ever suspected that The Lego Movie would be as good as it was. Boasting a stop-motion inspired, completely-made-out-of-bricks animation style, countless different franchises and IPs, and a loud, catchy pop song in “Everything is Awesome,” it was evident that it would look and sound the part at the very least. In a Hollywood landscape where it seemed that just about every movie was a reboot, a sequel, or an adaptation of some obscure toy, imagine how audiences and critics alike were caught off guard when The Lego Movie itself directly knew all of our anxieties and used them to its advantage. Stealthily, we got a movie that used one of the biggest toy brands and some of the biggest franchises to create a narrative about the beauty of individuality and creative self-expression, a heartwarming tale about a father and son reconnecting, and the dangers of conformity under a capitalist society (no, seriously).
In short, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directors of the first film (and most recently Into the Spider-Verse), know what the hell they’re doing. There have been a few Lego spin-offs in the meantime since 2014, but here we finally are with a sequel to the original The Lego Movie. This time around, Lord and Miller have producing credits, with director Mike Mitchell (Trolls) taking the reigns. But, rest assured, their under-99-layers-of-irony-but-still-as-genuine-as-can-be essence is still everywhere. The result is a sequel that is a lot less subtle about its meta-narratives and has fewer moving parts in its plot structure, but still understands everything that made the original great while excelling at being just as emotionally satisfying.
January is a quiet month, so how about we use this time to highlight some lesser known, quiet dramas that we love? This is Vol. 1, as this is a great concept to revisit with some feedback when I return to it. Enjoy the relaxing, personal video set to Nicholas Britell’s amazing score from If Beale Street Could Talk!
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If you follow me on Twitter, then you’re probably familiar with my weekly “THE GOOD PLACE [Sad Reaction Image]” tweet formula that pops up on Thursday nights. I started the show during the summer of 2018 and devoured the first two seasons in less than three days, which is extremely uncharacteristic of my uncultured-with-television self. I knew from the first few episodes, however, that The Good Place was no ordinary network sitcom. It’s been dubbed by many of its creators as the “smartest, dumbest show on TV”, which perfectly describes the show’s juggling of complex interrogations of morality, deep character studies, humane themes of life and death, emotional trauma, and self-improvement, all while maintaining a Spongebob-Esque absurdist but genuine sense of humor. It’s such a personal show to me that seemed to come at the right time. The first two seasons are masterfully written, and it would not be inappropriate to study the story beats and structure in a screenwriting class as the perfect model of set-up, pay-off, character development and everything in-between.
So of course, Season Three of The Good Place had a lot to live up to. Our starting point takes off where Season Two ended; an arrangement with the Judge (Maya Rudolph) had been made to give our rag-tag group a second chance to prove themselves as “better people” by preventing their deaths back on Earth. Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden), fully understanding of the gang’s positive group dynamic, decide to meddle further and reunite the humans together via a study on near-death experiences led by Chidi in Australia. I emphasize that this is only the starting point of the season – as you already might know, The Good Place is no stranger to the tradition of gigantic plot twists.