THE MANDATE Episode 39: From the Pages to the Big Screen With SHAZAM! and PET SEMATARY (2019)

What’s up, Mandaters?! I promised a quick turnaround from the last episode and I’m happy to be here delivering on that promise with not one but two films I had the pleasure of reviewing moments after seeing.

OK, let’s get right to it. First up is the first time feature film adaptation of the original Captain Marvel, SHAZAM! For those who are unaware, I’ll spare the lengthy explanation, but Shazam was created for Fawcett Comics in 1940 and was then known as Captain Marvel. Due to a lawsuit with DC comics over a likeness rights issue related to Superman, Fawcett stopped creating new content in 1953. Some years later, the rights were sold to DC, but by that point, Marvel Comics had entered the fold and created their own Captain Marvel. Not to confuse publications, the character was rebranded as Shazam. Admittedly, Shazam was not a character I was all too familiar with. I knew the basics and have read exactly one trade, years ago, that involved Black Adam, who was not in this film. From what I’ve been told, this film follows the New 52 reboot of the character’s origins. How closely it does is unknown to me, but what we get is a young Billy Batson (Asher Angel) bouncing around through foster families before he’s summoned by the wizard Shazam and is given his powers. Once the name is spoken, a very buff Zachary Levi (TV’s Chuck) appears with all the powers of Shazam. While he’s figuring it all out, the very sinister Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) has summoned the powers of the Seven Deadly Sins in order to be the most powerful person on Earth. Obviously, that can’t happen and a showdown ensues.

Returning with me to this screening is my typical “Marvel Guy,” Brian Carola. Due to missing out on seeing the actual Captain Marvel together, like we do with every single MCU film, I figured it was fitting to bring him on for this. We both discuss how little we knew about the character, but Brian sets his expectations rather high as he’s an admitted mark for Zachary Levi. I make the bold prediction that it was going to be too hokey for my liking and that I’d end up walking out of the film disappointed. After the film, we have fun breaking down this genuinely fun film. The film was far from perfect but it was interesting to hear that there were differences in what Brian and I both liked about it as well as a difference in opinion of what we thought could have been improved.

Lastly, if you go all the way back to Brian’s first appearance on the podcast, I plugged his now defunct band, East Of Anything. If you happened to check that out and dug what you heard, Brian was happy to report that the main writing force of that project, Gene Micofsky, has released a brand new solo record that you should really check out.

In the second half of the episode, I bring back for a third time Mr. Dennis McGonigal (Iron Price & Cancer Priest) for viewing of the second feature, an adaptation of the 1983 novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary. For those who are unaware, there was a very competent film made in 1989 that stars Dale Midkiff and Fred “Herman Munster” Gwynne. However, much in the vein of It, there are thoughts that this original film could have used an update. So here we are.

The novel has existed for 36 years and the original film has been around for 30, so I’ll skip the summary of the story. With that said, while I think the original film is still effective, especially with the Zelda scenes and Miko Hughes doing an excellent job of being creepy as the resurrected Gage, there are elements from the book that were left out of the original. Recently, Stephen King properties have been handled with much more care than they were in the ’80s and ’90s and I ate crow on my expectations with It. Only The Dark Tower is the standout stinker of the bunch. So with all that going on, I dialed back my anti-remake stance and was willing to give this an honest shot. Judging from the trailers, it looked like they were going to be adding a lot of the wendigo and Mirmac lore that is explained in the book, which was one element I really thought they missed in the original film. I also was on board with the change to make Ellie the child that is killed in the accident. (Not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer). Dennis, who had just finished reading the book, essentially agreed with me on all of the above.

It’s unfortunate, but this joins the ranks of The Dark Tower as another swing and a miss for the Stephen King Film Universe, although not nearly as bad. Although we do find some areas where this film exceeds its predecessor, Dennis and I spend most of the review portion of the segment discussing where the film failed to meet expectations. The overall conclusion is that most of the issues we had could have been corrected with about 20 more minutes of film. 90 minutea used to be the standard for feature films, but more and more, films are starting to push the two hour mark instead. This is an instance that some ideas could have been expanded on, thus fleshing out the story more, with that additional time. The film felt rushed and disingenuous. There is an emotionless cover of The Ramones’ song in the closing credits that really summed up the feeling of the film. Sometimes dead really is better.

Thanks again for checking out another episode of The Mandate. Make sure to continue to follow and support the rest of the Cinepunx family on all the social media platforms. Don’t forget to tell your friends, because sharing is caring. Now go see some movies!

 

 

 

John Wren

I am John Wren; a Delco original, and thanks to a cartoon Chihuahua (surprisingly, not the small bird), most know me only by my last name. Although people think I it’s due to self-hatred, I do actually enjoy running in ridiculous races up and down mountains and have recently ventured into the world of triathlons. I used to sing for the Jersey based metalcore band Bottomfeeder (www.facebook.com/bottomfeederhxc) but am now bandless. I’m the worst Buddhist known to man and if I’m given the opportunity, I will ramble on about anything and everything at great lengths, with lots of profanity. I’ve read every Stephen King book, my favorite band of all time is White Zombie, and I will need to take a week of bereavement the day Bruce Campbell dies.

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Comments

  1. Matt D Snyder

    I liked it, it was creepy and made me jump. It wasn’t perfect but it sure wasn’t boring or awful.

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