Tag Archives: Ross Butler

Cinema Dispatch: Shazam!

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Shazam! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by David F Sandberg

The slow course correction of the DCCU is perhaps not the most surprising thing in the world (you fail at something long enough, you might start to learn from those mistakes), but with Aquaman being a critical hit along with the… let’s say INTERESTING reactions to the Joker trailer, DCCU might just be on the upswing with this movie being the big test to see if this whole experiment can work now that we’re more or less in Phase Two.  Not only is this a fresh start in terms of being the first one more or less completely separate from the Snyder version of the universe, it’s also the first one to FEEL different from all the other ones; same way that Guardians of the Galaxy was a shot in the arm for Marvel after a somewhat serious phase for them.  Does this left turn into sunshine and happiness work turn out to fix many of the problems with the DCCU, or is Warner Bros beating a dead horse at this point?  Let’s find out!!

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical teenager who loves to roam the streets of Philly looking for his mother who disappeared many years ago and is willing to any length to find her!  Okay, maybe that’s not the typical teenage experience, but it’s Billy’s whole deal and the state is getting real tired of him running away from foster homes to search for a person that clearly doesn’t want to be found.  Now they don’t want to just toss his butt into juvy just yet, so they’ve found ONE more family willing to take him in which includes Rosa and Victor as the parents (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews), a bunch of other kids (Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, and Pedro Peña), and his new roommate Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) who’s sassy, handicapable, and REALLY into superheroes.  That last one wouldn’t be TOO bad if it weren’t for the fact that he likes Henry Cavell’s superman, but I guess those are the only toys he can get on clearance, so what are you gonna do?  ANYWAY, while all this is going on (and for several decades prior) a wizard by the name of Shazam (Dijmon Hounsou) has been scouring the Earth for decades to find SOMEONE worthy of taking his power and being the new protector of the planet which depressingly is a much harder task than you’d imagine.  Even with that caveat, I can’t say I’m too fond of his methods as he just pulls kids out of nowhere to give them a test and then send them back to reality when they fail to disappoint; especially when of these candidates is a young Thaddeus Sivanna (Ethan Pugitotto) who will one day grow up to be the ADULT (and doctor) Thaddeus Sivanna (Mark Strong) and is still obsessed with finding that weird dude who told him he wasn’t good enough to be a super hero.  Thaddeus does get his… revenge I guess (perhaps more of a make-up test?) when he finds the secret to accessing this magic realm and steals the EVIL version of Shazam’s power for himself.  Well darn it!  Now that Shazam has plum run out of options, it’s time to just pick one before it’s too late, so Billy?  It’s your lucky day!  The wizard scoops him up, gives him his powers, and then kicks him back to reality as well only now he’s in the rockin’ bod of the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi).  Can Billy learn how to use his powers and be the best superhero on Instagram, or was the wizard’s desperate Hail Mary ultimately a bad move?  Will he be ready by the time Dr. Sivanna realizes the wizard’s champion has been chosen and goes after him to take his power as well?  Be honest!  If you got super powers, you’d be an obnoxious attention seeker as well!

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“Free drinks are part of the superhero tax!  I don’t make up the rules!”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 8 (The Outsiders)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by David Katzenberg

We’re back from the two week hiatus of Riverdale, and while I may be one of the more critical voices out there of the show, I’m honestly glad that it’s back.  The last few episodes have been a marked improvement and the show has been on an upward swing in general since SHE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED has packed her backs and skipped town, and even when the show is at its WORST… well at least it gives me something interesting to write about!  Has the show come back from its break rearing to go and ready to prove itself, or are we in for more of the same old same old?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with a rather helpful recap of what’s been going on for the last few weeks, and not just the PREVIOUSLY ON RIVERDALE one we get every episode.  Jughead is basically summarizing the Jason Blossom /Polly Cooper love affair with some brief snippets of the both of them together before they were ripped violently apart.  Of course, if you’re just reading this then you don’t GET to see the pretty pictures, but I’ll do my best to summarize as it HAS been a few weeks since we’ve last done this song and dance.  AHEM!  Jason Blossom disappeared on the Fourth of July and was found several weeks later with a bullet hole in his head.  He was trying to run away with his pregnant girlfriend Polly who was sent to a Girl’s Home for… I guess being pregnant, but the TRUE reason is that the Coopers and the Blossoms have a Hatfield/McCoy generations long pissing match going on and her parents wanted her out of sight and out of mind.  Jason’s plan was two-fold.  Number one, sneak Polly out of the facility, and number two, deliver some drugs (given to him by the local gang known as the Southside Serpents) to an address upstate so he can have a decent amount of cash to start their new life.  Well, as famed Prussian General Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke once said, “no plan survives contact with a bullet to the head” so now it’s up to the denizens of Riverdale (mostly Betty and Jughead) to figure out who pulled a Romeo and Juliet on these two.  Now I like the way they present these details in this opening bit, but there is a part of Jughead’s narration that’s throwing me off.  The series keeps pushing this point that the Coopers are some sort of ultra-controlling and outwardly perfect dynasty within the Riverdale community, and I just don’t see it.  I mean sure Betty and Polly’s mother (who I delightfully refer to as Lemon Mom) certainly ACTS like that’s the case, but there’s never been a demonstration of clout or even that much opulence (the same way the Blossoms have been portrayed) to have this make any sense.  Hell, I don’t even know what their dad’s JOB is, let alone if it’s anything important, and Lemon Mom is a journalist… for a local newspaper.  Oh, well SAY NO MORE!  DON’T CROSS THESE PEOPLE!

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It’s like the Reynolds Family before Frank lost all sense of decency.

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 7 (In a Lonely Place)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Allison Anders

We’re back with another episode of The Incredible Jughead!  Just like Bruce Banner, our nominal hero of this show (Archie certainly isn’t the star of this) can’t stay in one place for too long as trouble follows wherever he goes.  That, and his last house got torn down, so we should probably get that resolved before too long as well as the whole POLLY WENT MISSING thing from last week.  Does this episode manage to tie up some of the loose ends that have been left dangling as we enter the second half of the season, or will this show double down on making things as needlessly complicated as possible (*cough* Lodge Industries *cough*)?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with… honestly, what looks to be a better show but I guess I’m supposed to find this hilariously dated instead.  It’s a dream that Jughead is having where he looks a bit closer to his comic counterparts and they’re playing Lambs in Clover by Jack Strachey; a song that you probably don’t know by name but you’ll recognize immediately when you look it up.  First, Ren and Stimpy were doing this kind of twisted domesticity set to Lambs in Clover over two decades ago and were doing it WAY better, so I’d hardly call this edgy or even that subversive.  Second, while I will grant them that Jughead has basically looked the same since the 1940s, it’s not like the series was hermetically sealed in the golden age of Boomer Americana!  The series grew over the decades and kept up with the times, and while there were places where it took longer than it should to catch up to society, taking a shot like this feels like mocking Batman for wearing purple gloves which he hasn’t worn since before World War 2.  Granted, I know more about the comics than most people, but then I always thought the public perception of the series was late sixties youth culture; not mid-fifties suburban paradise!!

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“This is not my beautiful house!  This is not my beautiful wife!”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 6 (Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Steven A. Adelson

We’re back with another episode of CSI: Riverdale!  When we last left our intrepid sleuths Betty and Jughead, they were getting one step closer to solving the mystery of Jason’s death, but now the evidence is point to Betty’s parents which makes things a lot more difficult to say the least!  Oh, and Archie was doing stuff too I guess, but JUGHEAD AND BETTY!  They’re next plan is to find out where Polly was sent and see if she has any clues that can lead them to the killer!  Will the dynamic duo manage to save Polly and find the truth that has been eluding them for so long?  What will Betty’s parents do once they find out what she’s been up to with that Jughead boy!?  And uh… is Archie gonna do something of mild interest?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Betty and Jughead who are about to initiate their master plan to find out where Polly’s been locked up.  Step one, have breakfast with Betty’s mom!  Okay, that doesn’t SOUND too hard, but this is Lemon Mom we’re dealing with who has just gotten back from her Women in Journalism retreat and is ready to tear everyone at the kitchen table a new asshole for the indecency and bad taste of merely existing in her presence.

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“THIS BREAKFAST… IS UNACCEPTABBBBBLLLLEEEEE!!”     “WE GET IT!  You hate everything!  Would you PLEASE shut up about it!?”     “The funny thing is, this is still better than breakfast with MY dad.”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 5 (Heart of Darkness)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Jesse Warn

We’re back with another episode of Everybody Hates Cheryl!  The last episode thankfully finished off that abysmal Grundy subplot which means we can FINALLY get to what this show SHOULD be!  Archie solving weird mysteries throughout town!  What is that not good enough!?  I want this show to become the next American Horror Story, damn it!!  AND WHEN DOES SABRINA SHOW UP!?  Well for NOW at least, we still have to find Jason Blossom’s killer which… I GUESS is a kind of horror story even if it’s not supernatural… OR IS IT!?  Can this show manage to stay afloat now that its worst subplot has been jettisoned from this sinking ship?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with yet another Jughead monologue as he tells us all about the Blossom home which looks like the unholy lovechild of Roger Corman and Tim Burton that was delivered by Vincent Price in the Westin Hills Insane Asylum from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.  What I’m saying is that it’s gothic as fuck, and I ABSOLUTELY love it!  Hell, I can’t even tell if it has electricity, though you’d think it would HAVE to considering how many fog machines they’d need to keep that place constantly engulfed in THAT much foreboding atmosphere!

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I don’t know what’s more amazing; that this show now has the Gothic sensibilities of a Guillermo del Toro joint, or that it all makes perfect sense for Cheryl.

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 3 (Body Double)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Lee Toland Krieger

We’re back with another episode of The Way Too Young and the Restless!  When we last left things, Cheryl was FINALLY getting arrested for being the most OBVIOUSLY SUSPICIOUS PERON IMAGINABLE, but chances are that those charges aren’t gonna stick considering we’re only on the third chapter.  What mysteries will be uncovered once Cheryl tells us what REALLY happened on the Fourth of July?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with a recap of what happened at the end of the last episode which, as stated above, was Cheryl Blossom FINALLY being dragged away in handcuffs.  Why?  Well I could probably give you a laundry list of reasons, but SPECIFICALLY she’s being hauled in for questioning because her story about what happened to Jason on the Fourth of July has a few holes in it.  Namely ONE hole that ended up in Jason’s head!  Sheriff Keller (Kevin Keller’s dad played by Martin Cummins) begins to question her in Principal Weatherbee’s office, and we find out what REALLY happened that day, or at least the CURRENT version of the truth before the next big revelation upends everything we learn here.  Jason wanted to run away from home and fake his death.  He and Cheryl took the boat ACROSS the river and I guess Jason just wandered off into the woods with no bags and presumably very little cash (a dead man wouldn’t be using a credit card and a big withdrawal right before he disappeared would have been suspicious) while Cheryl waited around for someone to find her so she can tell the story about Jason drowning.  How she knew that Dilton and his scout troop (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a scout leader in the books, but whatever) would JUST SO HAPPEN to pass by is still a mystery, but maybe that’s the NEXT big revelation.  While the two of them were sharing their tearful goodbye, they heard the gunshot.  You know; the one that Archie and Miss Grundy heard?  Yeah, they heard it too which means that we now know two places were the gun COULDN’T have been fired from.  Now that’s a decent chunk of information to build off of and presumably this take Cheryl off the hook for the murder.  Why the sheriff didn’t ask Cheryl WHY Jason wanted to run away is beyond me, but whatever.  We’ve still got a whole season of shows to fill up, so we can’t be giving away all the surprises NOW!

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“That whole thing where I said I was guilty?  Yeah… not really what I meant.  Still made for a good cliffhanger though, right?”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 2 (A Touch of Evil)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Lee Toland Krieger

We’re back with another episode of Riverdale: The Next Generation!  Now the first episode didn’t give me a WHOLE lot of hope that this is gonna resemble the original comics in the least, and adding some questionable subplots and story decision on top of that only lessened my enthusiasm.  Still, Betty and Veronica are great and Cheryl is fun if completely over the top and goofy, so there are definitely some things to like about it and room to grow as the series goes along.  Does this episode build off of what was good in the first one, or are we already getting the best that this series can offer?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Jughead Marlowe as he narrates to us the events of the last episode with that same pulpy film noir style that continues unabated from the last episode.  Raymond Chandler, this guy is not, BUT it at least adds SOMETHING to the standard PREVIOUSLY ON recap that you see in front of shows like this and we also get a few details on what has happened since last time.  What DID happen last time anyway?  Well it turns out that the body of Cheryl Blossom’s brother Jason finally washed up on shore but it has a bullet hole right between the eyes which points to MURDER instead of merely an accident which is what Cheryl has been telling the police this whole time (the boat tipped over and he drowned) so I’m sure they’ll be wanting another chat with her sometime soon.  Of course, there’ still one piece of the puzzle that the cops aren’t aware of yet and that’s the secret Archie is hiding from everyone.  On The Fourth of July which is the day that Jason went missing, he was at the river where Cheryl and Jason were, and while he didn’t SEE anything, he definitely heard a gunshot.  However, he hasn’t told anyone yet because he was with his WAY older music teacher Miss Grundy (you can read my recap of episode one if you want my thoughts on THAT situation) and she’s convinced him that he can’t go the police.  Of course, finding out that Jason bid farewell to this cruel world with the help of Smith & Wesson isn’t making it any easier to keep this secret from eating away at his hunky insides.

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“All this deception is making my abs sad…”

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