Matt’s Movie Review Roundup

As we continue through March, we’re continuing to see sequels. This time it’s a sequel that will be one of the final entries of the DCEU as we know it. I have thoughts on that and a new Netflix animated film below. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.

The Magician’s Elephant (Netflix)
Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Miranda Richardson, Brian Tyree Henry, and Aasif Mandvi
Synopsis: The latest animated feature for Netflix comes from the novel by Kate DiCamillo. It centers on a young boy, Peter (Jupe), who is a poor orphan living with the former soldier (Patinkin) who rescued him. When a fortune teller tells Peter that he’ll find his sister by following an elephant, he’s confused. There are no elephants. But when a magician’s trick gone wrong brings an elephant to town, Peter knows it’s fate. He makes a bargain with the King (Mandvi) that if he can accomplish three impossible things he can have the elephant. Now, he just has to set out to make good and, hopefully, find his family. This is a solid family story. I enjoyed the animated style and the voice work. There is some joy in this story, too. I enjoyed the three impossible tasks and the way Peter was able to solve them. Netflix has crafted some strong animated films the past few years. Two of the five Best Animated Feature nominees at the Academy Awards, including the winner, came from Netflix. This doesn’t quite rise to that level but it’s an enjoyable, family-friendly option.
Rating: Rated PG for some action/peril and thematic elements.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (Theaters)
: Zachary Levi, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Rachel Zegler, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Glazer, and Djimon Hounsou
Synopsis: What do you do when you finally find a family? Do you end up holding on too tight? That’s the challenge for Billy Batson (Angel) as we begin this sequel. In the original film in 2019, Batson was an orphan who was perpetually seeking his mother and his place of belonging, even after a wizard (Hounsou) gave him superpowers. It took a while for him to realize the family he was looking for had been there for him all along. Now, that family is in the superhero business. While they are doing good, Billy and his alter-ego (Levi) are always trying to do better. The fear that he might lose the family he struggled so long to find drives him to keep pushing his brothers and sister, and they’ve had enough. When some Gods (Mirren and Liu) recover the staff and threaten the world, Billy springs back into action but the threat to his family—and his city—is bigger than it’s ever been. In a sequel, the stakes and action is often raised. That’s true here. But we miss some of the humor and emotional beats that helped the origin story have some pop. I didn’t mind the villains here but many of the new characters lacked solid development. The effects are fine but the most of the action sequences lack some pop. One actor who does get to shine is Glazer’s Freddy Freeman. He has a fun arc and has some great scenes opposite Hounsou and Zegler. He’s the MVP of the film for me. The other issue at play here is this Shazam! sequel and its post-credit sequence are part of a cinematic universe that has ended. We just have a few more films playing out the string, which limits some of the stakes here. Still, I enjoyed it for what it is. It doesn’t reach the heights of the first film but it’s a solid follow up with some fun moments.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and language.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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