Rinzy Reviews ‘Shazam!’ (2019)

Release Date: April 5

Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, et al.

***

As more comic book characters find their way into live-action, Shazam! is the latest to make it to the big screen.

The greatest thing going for this movie is Zachary Levi as the titular character, and I don’t even mean all the tons of muscles he added to achieve his great physique. Levi’s a perfect fit for the role, and as many online reviews have already pointed out, he was born to play Shazam!

Where this impressiveness falters is in almost every scene we get to see Shazam revert back to his original self as 14-year-old Billy Batson. Actor/musician Asher Angel does his best in the role, but I can’t help but feel he got overwhelmed by the role, a dilemma the director should’ve taken note of during casting. As a standalone character, Angel does a great job bringing Billy to live but when you put him side-by-side Levi’s, the character starts to fall apart.

For most part of his scenes, you see him acting tougher and much older than his alter ego, making it seem like its two different characters when it really should be one character in two different bodies. To me, that’s a great miss.

Mark Strong is an incredible actor, but his work here as Dr. Sivani falls short of expectation especially when you compare it with his more recent roles, like in the Kingsman franchise. This is by no means the actors fault, he’s incredibly talented, but as a result of a script laddened with cranky dialogues, fewer action scenes, and an elongated runtime. I believe a shorter, more concise story would’ve worked more in its favor. Because of this major setback, we get a villain who’s more powerful than the protagonist, but we never get to feel the gravity of the movie’s stakes. This in turn translates to an easily forgettable villain. Good news is, if the mid-credit scene is anything to go by, Dr. Silvana might be returning in the sequel; this provides the opportunity to right the wrongs done with the character.

Shazam! is a family movie, and would’ve been perfect for a Christmas release. And as a family movie it takes it’s time to preach the gospel of why family doesn’t always have to do with blood. It speaks on acceptance, especially on self-acceptance, and is a good message for children still having difficulty being the best version of themselves. Billy’s relationship with Freddy and the rest of his foster siblings is the kind of thing you want you two children always at lodgerhead to see; that despite our seeming differences we can always be there for each other.

Jack Dylan Grazer does excellent work as Freddy/Shazam’ sidekick/ Shazam’s manager. He really holds his own throughout the movie beside Levi and Angel, and so do the rest of the supporting cast.

Lest I forget, I really liked the twist in the last act. Oh my gosh! I felt electricity course through my veins when the foster kids (yeah, I’m sticking with calling them that) put their hands on the staff and yelled Shazam. Being that I’ve never read a Shazam comic book before, I didn’t know what to expect, and liked that the movie didn’t toe the line of Dr. Silvana collecting Shazam’s powers only to have it returned later in the movie for the final battle.

Shazam! is a magical, really fun movie with good comedy. Since magic in movies is almost always fun, and, also, because we’re expecting a sequel, I hope the director gets a larger budget to work with, so that it’ll have a much grander feel, and the CGI of subsequent magical creatures can look better than the seven deadly sins did in this one.

Directed by: Adam F. Sandberg

Rinzy’s Rating: 3.5/5

Rinzy Reviews ‘When They See Us’ (2019)

Network: Netflix

Release Date: May 31

Starring: Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Jharrel Jerome, Marquis Rodriguez, Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, et al.

***

On the night of April 19, 1989, a 28-year-old female jogger, Trish Meili, gets brutally beaten and raped in Central Park. Five boys of color between the ages of 14-16 are coerced by the police department, spearheaded by over-ambitious Linda Fairstein, into accepting the charges and confessing on tape. This leads to all of them doing time for varying years.

If you ever think of police brutality in recent time, I want you to think of these five boys –Antron, Kevin, Yusef, Raymond, and Korey- and what they went through in the hands of the American justice system skewed to disfavor people of color. The boys were all convicted by juries of charges of rape, assault, and related crimes in two separate trials in 1990. They were sentenced to maximum terms and Korey, at 16, was sent to adult prison.

In four episodes, Ava DuVarnay told the gruesome story of how five boys were robbed off their childhood. It was at a time when innocence wasn’t cared about as much as solving a case irrespective of the gravity of its racial undertone. The series does a good job examining racism, discrimination, and its destabilizing effect. With beautiful, fast-paced, yet soulful writing and terrific acting, Ava and the actors show the effect of imprisonment on loved ones, and the uncertainty of the future for all of them. She does a great job tackling a topic many would ordinarily shy away from.

Social injustice is still a big issue today; although not as bold as in the case of Central Park Five, it still thrives, and must be fought at all cost until it’s eradicated. This miniseries has reopened interest in the case, and sparked numerous conversations over the many ways the case could’ve proceeded differently. I hear there’ve been calls to prosecute Linda Fairstein for malicious prosecution, and I support this call. She’s the sole reason those boys ever did time; if she’d done her job without prejudice, the real, sole perpetrator of the crime, Matias Reyes, would’ve been caught much earlier. And her rise in career and popularity might’ve still happened. For letting little boys suffer that way, in my eyes, she’s as guilty as Reyes, and I think she deserves a cell beside him.

Lest I forget, the police carried out a shabby investigation, but they didn’t act alone, the press were complicit too. If both of these institutions had done their jobs, five children wouldn’t have been forced to grow up without a childhood. No amount of monetary settlement can ever make up for this.

Favorite scene: When Korey begs refuses to answer the prosecutor questions in court. Touching.

Favorite actor: Jharrel Jerome’s Korey. He’s terrific.

***

Director: Ava DuVernay

Rinzy’s Rating: 4.5/5

Rinzy Reviews ‘Nigerian Prince’ (2018)

Release Date: October 19

Starring: Chinaza Uche, Anthonio J Bell, Tina Mba, Bimbo Manuel, et al.

***

Eze (Anthonio J Bell) is an American lad born to Nigerian parents. After getting into a fight at school, his mother sends him to Nigeria on false pretense to live with her sister (Tina Mba) to better understand himself, and where his roots, much to his displeasure. It’s in this time of despair and desperation to return back to the US that Eze falls into the hands of charismatic and wily Pius (Chinaza Uche), his cousin, who scams people for a living – the titular Nigerian prince.

It’s not everyday you see a Nigerian movie tell a story away from the glitz and glamor of parties, as has trended since the release of The Wedding Party (2016). It’s on this note Nigerian Prince checks a crucial box. It dares to be different, toes the line, and actually does right by itself for most of its run-time. Most importantly, what this movie really excels at is to call out unscrupulous Nigerians who’ve taken to scams as a means of survival, without mincing words. I can’t begin to stress how important this is in this present time.

Most of the popular parlor tricks that’ve trended over the last two decades get an honorable mention; perfectly painting vivid pictures of what a scam might look like to unsuspecting members of the public who might be inclined to fall victim. The most beautiful part, however, is the continuous reiteration that ANYONE can fall for a scam, which I believe is a valuable lesson to always keep at the back of one’s mind.

British born Nigerian actor, Chinaza Uche, does a terrific job bringing Pius to life. I really got immersed in his world, a Lagos born and bred young man hustling to make a living the best way he knows how to. And while i think much depth could’ve been given to the reason he chose to scam for a living he does give a convincing performance that’ll make you want to forgive his Wakanda-ish accent whenever it becomes almost unbearable.

Anthonio J Bell’s Eze is the perfect example of a 21st century reserved, yet internally conflicted kid. A perfect example of how bad communication could corrupt both the good and not-so-good manners. And how most times seeking a person’s approval so much (in this case his parents) causes us to fail to see how powerful and independent we can actually be. I loved everything about this character; he was quite relatable even though I’m not remotely American 😁.

The Nigerian police’s ability to track someone to an exact location was a shocker; they were able to know Pius and Eze’s exact location swift enough to apprehend them in a moving vehicle. Push this and a few other unrealistic scenes aside -the easy dismissal of Pius’ case at the EFCC’s office and the wack ending- and you’ve got yourself a movie that succeeds in passing its message across. That, I believe, is a win.

Say no to FRAUD of any kind!

Yahoo Yahoo no be hustle!

Directed by: Faraday Okoro

Rinzy’s Rating: 3/5