This week, an unlikely hero soars in “Shazam!,” the highlighted title coming to Blu-Ray/DVD. The rest of the crop today includes a few notable independent options as well, making for a nice variety. Read on for more.
PICK OF THE WEEK
This incredibly fun entry into the DC Extended Universe showed how this side of the superhero coin doesn’t have to be dark and gritty. There’s heart and even joy on display here in “Shazam!,” making it the most purely enjoyable comic book release that DC and Warner Bros. has put out in years. Our rave review here on the site goes into why:
“Shazam!” plays like a cross between “Big” and “Kick-Ass,” though in some ways that’s reductive. The film is giving a different kind of spin to the superhero origin story. If the beats are familiar, the fun, the heart, and the soul, not to mention the humor, are all new.
“Shazam!” is a blast. As we wait to see where both DC and Marvel choose to go from here, this movie is wholly deserving of another watch. For pure fun, it’s hard to beat.
Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $140,240,394
Major Awards: None yet
A far more indie superhero origin story, this film is buoyed by some phenomenal work from Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She grounds it and helps overcome some occasionally uneven execution. The New Yorker was taken by how different a path this project takes from other efforts of its ilk. A sampling:
It’s the rare superhero film that proceeds without a devotion to the spectacular that filters out, from the start, all the interest that’s generated from close attention to ordinary life.
“Fast Color” is more evidence that Mbatha-Raw is on the verge of becoming a huge star. She makes this one well worth seeing.
Special Features: Audio Commentary
Total Box Office: $76,916
Major Awards: None yet
In honor of this week’s release of “The Lion King,” the pick today is a slam dunk choice. It’s, of course, the original animated feature. Yes, it’s “The Lion King,” part of Disney’s second Golden Age of animation. Top to bottom, it’s a masterwork, winning praise from all parts of the industry. Here’s a bit from the late Roger Ebert, who was taken by the animated feature:
The saga of Simba, which in its deeply buried origins owes something to Greek tragedy and certainly to “Hamlet,” is a learning experience as well as an entertainment.
Prepare yourself for the new version with this one today!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the pair of recommended titles in “Fast Color” and “Shazam!”:
This Italian character study featuring dogs, drugs, and revenge, was a full meal when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. Matteo Garrone‘s flick was overshadowed by some higher profile titles, but still received some strong reviews, including this Rolling Stone one:
A bare-bones breakdown of Matteo Garrone’s David-and-Goliath parable hardly does justice to the violent agony and modest ecstasy you get on screen.
Garrone’s fans should definitely give this one a shot.
Box Office: $145,152
Tessa Thompson gets a lead role to shine in here with this independent drama. She’s been doing great work for years now, but often in a supporting role. Here, she’s front and center. As Rolling Stone details, she’s part of why the film succeeds:
Featuring a dynamite turn from Tessa Thompson as a parolee looking for one last opiod score before going straight, Nia DaCosta’s uneven but compelling drama tells you what’s it like living down-and-out in the USA.
A timely tale worth considering this week.
Box Office: $150,010
Elle Fanning quietly received raves for her work in actor Max Minghella‘s directorial debut. Coming so soon after “A Star Is Born,” some saw it as more of the same, but especially in regards to Fanning’s turn, there’s plenty of specific enthusiasm on display. Richard Roeper had this to say in his positive take:
As we’ve learned from Daniel LaRusso and a host of other underdogs in any manner of competitions, it’s not impossible for heart to triumph over technique.
Another strong option for potential pick up today.
Box Office: $441,366
A dramedy utilizing one of Bruce Springsteen‘s iconic tunes? Yes please. Filmmaker Jim Cummings turned some heads with this feature adaptation of his well regarded short of the same name. Time Out thinks that Cummings is someone to watch out for:
In the spirit of many great comedians, Jim Cummings has a knack for taking lines that shouldn’t be funny and transforming them into accidental zingers.
One more solid indie option to contemplate acquiring.
Box Office: N/A
Special Criterion Collection Section
“The Baker’s Wife”
The first of two strong options coming to Criterion today is this 1938 French offering. This is the sort of film that just might not be on anyone’s radar if not for this company. Consider it an act of cinematic service. The Collection pitches it to the world like so:
The warmth and wit of celebrated playwright turned cinema auteur Marcel Pagnol shine in this enchanting slice-of-life comedy.
Give it a shot!
For the other choice joining the Collection this week, we have this Alan J. Pakula film, one that won Jane Fonda an Academy Award. A character study with that talent at the forefront, not to mention cinematographer Gordon Willis contributing his work? Criterion doesn’t have to sell this one too hard, but they go all out for it anyway:
With her Oscar-winning turn in Klute, Jane Fonda reinvented herself as a new kind of movie star. Bringing nervy audacity and counterculture style to the role of Bree Daniels—a call girl and aspiring actor who becomes the focal point of a missing-person investigation when detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) turns up at her door—Fonda made the film her own, putting an independent woman and escort on-screen with a frankness that had not yet been attempted in Hollywood.
Fonda fans should definitely pick this one up!
“Criminal Minds: Season 14”
“The Practice: The Complete Series”
“From the Earth to the Moon”
“Space: 1999 – The Complete Series”