Shazam (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Shazam (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Shazam is the best modern (post Nolan) DCEU film to date.  Okay so other than Wonder Woman that’s still a pretty low bar but regardless Shazam is a genuinely funny, genuinely charming and probably top 10 of the year film with loads to entertain kids and adults of all ages.  Of course it’s the cast that make this work and Zachary Levi especially nails the titular character, with Mark Strong once again laying it down thick and fast as the villain.  Okay so the last thirty minute plus smash-em-crash-em goes on too long (the film really shines in the smaller moments) but it, and you, are having so much fun you can pretty much forgive it. Shazam delivers.  See DC CAN make a good film.

Best Bit: Testing powers

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Aquaman 


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Batman Ninja (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Batman Ninja (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Well Batman Ninja takes the rule book and throws it right out the door.  Take Batman and his considerable rogues gallery and plant them back into Feudal Japan, throw in a sprinkling of traditional Anime trappings, some Mechas and a whole bundle of crazy and you get what is one of the most fun Batman films ever made.  And that’s the thing – Batman films often lack the fun of Marvel movies but Batman Ninja delivers bright colours, impressive visuals and some insane ideas from start to end.  In short Batman Ninja is a must for fans.

Best Bit: Mecha-Fights

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: The Killing Joke


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Aquaman (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Aquaman (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Aquaman is not going to convert naysayers of the DC extended universe movies into putting aside past failures and embracing a new world.  It’s a hot mess of a film that is far too heavy on FX and far too light on comprehensible story.  But when it hits (which it does about 30% of the time) it’s a bombastic, crazy, inventive and frankly insane mix of Thor, Star Wars, The Karate Kid (yes really) and The Matrix.  Momoa does a good enough job but is sidelined for a lot of the film and the support cast range from bored (Kidman) to confused (Heard) to ;God have I really landed a role in this film; (Dolph!).  With very few mentions of the extended Universe this feels like a stand alone film and is probably the better for it but much like Cyborg you end up with the feeling that less is very much more with Aquaman and he shines far better in a support role alongside more established heroes.  See in the cinema but check brain at the door.

Best Bit: Dolph!

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man Of Steel, Thor: Ragnarok 


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My Favourite… Margot Kidder Film

My Favourite… Margot Kidder Film

My Favourite… Other Cr*p


As death continues it’s relentless march through the gifted and talented of TV and film, My Favourite… celebrates those we have lost by taking a look at a slice of their best work. Well sometimes best, sometimes just the one I like the most.

This time out: My Favourite…. Margot Kidder (1948-2018) Film



Just before the destruction of the planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship to Earth. Raised by kindly farmers Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter), young Clark (Christopher Reeve) discovers the source of his superhuman powers and moves to Metropolis to fight evil. As Superman, he battles the villainous Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), while, as novice reporter Clark Kent, he attempts to woo co-worker Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie broke ground and set the stall out for ever modern Superhero movie ever made.  In fact it’s so good few, if any, superhero movies have ever come close.  It also made a star out of it’s cast, the late Christopher Reeve (Superman) and a young Margot Kidder who made a generation of fans fall in love with her portrayal of reporter Lane. Long before girl power was a thing, Kidder gave Lane a soul beyond the pages of the comic book.  She remains the best on screen Lois Lane to date.  Sadly her career never lived up to it’s promise but if you are going to be remembered for one thing you could do much worse.


See also: Superman 2, The Amityville Horror




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Black Panther  – Review Round Up

Black Panther  – Review Round Up

Other Cr*p

Want to know what the critics think of the latest hot releases but don’t want to have to search for them?  Well look no further as we round up the reviews from 5 of the most influential sources for the latest BIG RELEASE movie.

This time out: Black Panther 

Overall Critics Say


“Not everything about Black Panther works across the board but a huge amount of it does – and does so wonderfully.”- 9.0


“Confident, assured and athletic filmmaking. And with Boseman on such dignified, dynamic form, his Infinity War return can’t come soon enough. ” – 4/5



” Ryan Coogler gives the Marvel template a bold auteurist twist with an African extravaganza that packs a muscular intensity and challenges as much as it exhilarates. ” – 4/5


“Now on its 18th film, Marvel Studios greenlights a movie that feels quite unlike the other Avengers one-offs, featuring a superhero with purpose.”

Black Panther makes the MCU, and the world, bigger just by the fact of its long-needed existence, and like the character himself, wears that mantle with dignity, grace, and pride. ” -4/5



Full credit to original sources.  Links to websites provided. 

Podcast: The Smoking Lamb #079 – Justice League (Non-Spoiler + Spoiler)

Podcast: The Smoking Lamb #079 – Justice League (Non-Spoiler + Spoiler)

The Podcasts The Smoking Lamb Podcast

It’s The Smoking Lamb Movie Podcast. A weekly, no-holds-baa-aa-arred, and R-rated look at the world of movies.

On this episode: After ages and ages of waiting, bringing with it a whole load of baggage in its wake, it’s finally here at last. Episode 79 of The Smoking Lamb.

By which I mean of course Justice League has finally reached the cinemas, dragging behind it a weight of expectations and a whole tea shop’s worth of gossip and rumours.

We delve into all of that with our review, split into a non-spoiler and spoiler section (which you can find after the end credits of the podcast). In addition we have our top five Sidekicks to discuss, both Josh AND Steve get a dose of education and then go head-to-head in Address the Lamb!

Check it out and BLEAT THE WORLD and don’t forget to follow up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

#TheSmokingLamb #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts #FilmPodcast


Phil’s Top 5… 2017’s Superhero Films! 

Phil’s Top 5… 2017’s Superhero Films! 

Other Cr*p Top 5

Each week Phil, from Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, takes a look at a different movie or TV related Top Five.  This time out: 2017’s Superhero Films!


Close but no cigar: Wonder Woman, Justice League


5 – The LEGO Batman Movie 
The LEGO Batman Movie isn’t quite as good as the original LEGO movie but in terms of jokes per second it pretty much delivers more than any film I’ve seen this year.  Smart, funny and very knowing.

4 – Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2
GOTG2 was great fun that, on reflection, wasn’t quite as good as most of us originally thought falling apart somewhat in the final act.  BUT the journey to get there was damn good fun!

3 – Logan
Logan finally gave us the Wolverine movie we’ve been waiting for.  Violent, sweary and brutal it takes the Old Man Logan story and brilliantly puts it on screen.

2 – Thor Ragnorok 
Damn Thor Ragnorok was good.  In the long run it may even pip Spiderman to the top spot here.  With an unusual choice of director, added Hulk and a witty script this was a Marvel film from left field that actually massively out delivered expectation.

1 – Spiderman: Homecoming
It’s been a long time coming but Spiderman: Homecoming gave us one of our best Spiderman films since, arguably, Spiderman 2.  Marvel delivered a charming coming of age Spiderman which was much closer to the original comic book.



Justice League – Motion Picture Maniac

Justice League – Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

Justice League! It’s finally here, a movie I was very much looking forward to as a fan of comic books and the movies based on them, a Snyder apologist and proud defender of the DCEU thus far, what we have is a superhero team-up movie featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg going up against a big bad named Steppenwolf who wants to destroy the world, obviously, sounds simple enough if not for the most tragic and unfortunate production histories I have ever read about in my life; let’s see how it did.

Coming up with a rock-solid summary of how I feel about Justice League is about as difficult as deciding on what shoes to buy without actually trying them on, it feels unfair to judge it so soon without first seeing a more complete version first, free of studio interference and akin to the auteur’s original, uncompromised vision. This is a film I enjoyed, one with scenes of true cinematic brilliance worth recommending the whole thing for, the kind of craftsmanship I hope to see in a film credited to the underrated Zack Snyder; but that right there is the problem, when it’s allowed to be a Snyder film it works just fine but it’s not entirely a Snyder film is it? Outside of the scenes of greatness are several problems, much of the film feels desperate, disjointed and paranoid, but pointing the finger simply at whomever’s name lies under the director credit just isn’t sensible knowing the production history.

Snyder’s name may be at the helm and the film’s best scenes are all thanks to him, but because this cut of the film probably wouldn’t be his first choice and there are so many problems that aren’t his fault, I think reviewing it now, before seeing some kind of director’s cut, just feels a little premature. As we all know by now, Snyder finished the film, showed it to the studio, they wanted it shorter and funnier, Joss Whedon is brought in to rewrite some scenes, Snyder suddenly leaves production due to the death of his daughter and Whedon is tasked with directing the reshoots under the mighty studio microscope; what could possibly go wrong? This is a film that feels physically botched, one without a clear, singular vision and comes off more like a product rather than a film with an actual story.

As with every film I want to look past and forget about any kind of manic production process and just get on with it but in this case, with the studio fingerprints all over the picture, it’s really difficult to ignore. I want to stress, I enjoyed this movie, when what is obviously Snyder is able to go on for long stretches without interruption it’s legitimately great, the fights scenes in Themyscira, Atlantis and the big silo are a joy to behold. I love the costumes, the cast, the visual aesthetic (when it’s allowed to have one of course), the jokes are funny and when it comes to a possible release of Snyder’s original cut there is a solar system of potential and I wish I was reviewing that right now; but I’m not.

The footage Whedon shot sticks out like a sore thumb, the forced short runtime, that the studio must have been crazy to implement, robs the film of depth and character development, an important action scene that was set at night when it appeared in trailers is now set during the day and makes the CGI look fake, which it wouldn’t have if it took place within the light setting it was meant to and speaking of the CGI; oh dear. It’s not all bad, there are times where it looks very well done, close-ups on Cyborg are realistic, parademons often look seamless, the underwater stuff with Aquaman is pretty good and Steppenwolf, well… his close-ups also look alright, but poor Henry Cavill’s moustache, holy Christ is it embarrassing; why did they have to do that? I know the reasons but still, why?

It feels incomplete, all that missing footage doesn’t help the situation, I want to like the film more than I did, the creative forces tried very hard with this one and there’s undeniably a great film buried somewhere in here, other than the fact that this is Justice League for goodness sake, it’s finally happened and there are scenes, sequences no less, very worthy of such a moment in cinematic history but the studio went and soiled the bed, it’s terrible what happened to Snyder and his family and I applaud the man for his dignified handling of a horrible situation, but it looks like the studio went behind his back the moment he was gone and as a result we have a fun but flawed, entertaining but botched mishandled science monster that I want to give credit to for its troubled upbringing for lack of a better word.

It’s fun and easy to watch, the actors all do well, Steppenwolf may be a weak CGI villain but Ciaran Hinds’ performance is excellent, I could watch the action sequences all day and it is nice seeing a Justice League movie that leans more on positive than negative, at least for me, especially when a director’s cut could very well fix all of my problems. But for now those problems have to remain; it’s been cut to pieces in the editing room, has painfully obvious reshoot footage among other things and they hold it back quite a bit, I would give it thumbs up but that’s just me.

Grosse Point Geek – Justice League

Grosse Point Geek – Justice League

A Blog Grosse Point Geek

With the world in mourning after the death of Superman, a guilt ridden Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sets about assembling a team of  super warriors to combat galactic mega villain Steppenwolf  and his army of Parademons  – who are hell bent on a mission to retrieve three ancient all powerful mother boxes  and put an end to life on Earth.

After the extremely divisive Batman V Superman and the serious letdown that was Suicide Squad, it is safe to say that Warner Bros. and DC’s expanded universe is in a bit  of trouble. To be fair this summer’s Wonder Woman went a long way in getting it back on track but without doubt Zack Snyder’s Justice League absolutely had to deliver the goods both commercially and (most importantly) critically for the franchise to have any hopes of long term survival.

Now despite what the highbrow critics and rabid comic book fanboys might be saying, Justice League is not in any way a total disaster- not even close, but dear lord does it have its issues  – ill get to those in a sec – first i’ll go into what worked.

Firstly, at its core, Justice League is an entirely watchable, well directed,  entertaining blockbuster, with a more than passable script. The entire cast are all impressive –  newcomers Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman) are particularly good – both giving charismatic performances and providing some sorely needed comic relief. Jeremy Irons is again flawless as Alfred, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill impress once more as Batman and Superman and Gal Gadot is  fantastic in her third go around as Wonder Woman. In addition alot of the action scenes are very well handled  – an opening sequence featuring Wonder Woman saving an entire building full of innocents from a mad bomber is outstanding, then an hour in we get a rollicking set piece where the (almost) entire team have their first proper tear up with Steppenwolf and the Parademons.

So far so good right? – Well yes and very much no.

The first issue is that tonally its all over the place  – and this is obviously down to the involvement of Joss Whedon who stepped in to carry out extensive re-shoots and  story rewrites after Zack Snyder left in post production to deal with a horrific family tragedy. As a result Whedon’s somewhat lighter comedic contribution sticks out like a sore thumb and is at odds with Snyder’s  somewhat different vision for the film. Then there is the villain Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) who is nothing more than a second rate Thanos , totally and utterly bland and brought to life by some decidedly iffy CGI. The plot is also decidedly unoriginal  – Steppenwolf’s mission to unite the three mother boxes and destroy humanity is  simply not good enough and seems to have been lifted from the entire running story arc of The Avengers.

I mentioned earlier that the action was mostly pretty impressive  – i say mostly as the final showdown between the League and Steppenwolf is decidedly underwhelming and lacks any excitement or sense of danger. It is here that the film should have completely blown the roof off and flown sky high, but instead we get nothing more than an over abundance of pixellated fights and explosions that fail on every level to even come close to the epic Battle of New York in The Avengers or that awesome Bifrost scrap in Thor:Ragnarok.

Then we have the special effects  – of which there are way too many and rendered in some eye bleedingly awful colours. Speaking of SFX  – there is the issue of Henry Cavill’s ‘tache which he had grown for his role in Mission Impossible 6. To cut a long story short, when Cavill was called back for the aforementioned re-shoots  on Justice League he was in the middle of  filming MI6 and obviously couldn’t shave off said offending facial fuzz – so naturally it had to be digitally erased in post production. To say that the sfx team has made a bang up job of catastrophic proportions here is quite possibly the under statement of the millennium. The result being that in at least two major scenes Cavill’s face is horribly distorted, then in most of his other appearances on screen his mouth has been visibly and badly CGI’d.  Simply put, this is  an absolutely unforgivable error that simply cannot and should not happen in a $300 million dollar tentpole movie  – and certainly not one with so much riding on it.


Overall i have to say that all of the above issues should not have happened full stop. Prior to Justice League, DC and Warner’s had four films to get it right plus they’ve seen the success that Marvel have enjoyed with their Avengers franchise – so why on Earth haven’t they learned from their mistakes?

To begin with after Batman V Superman (which i hasten to add i actually liked) they should have hired a different director to Zack Snyder and got rid of the writing team – specifically David S Goyer – as a completely fresh pair of eyes was (and still is) so desperately needed. Also they should have introduced Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg in their own individual films before embarking on making Justice League to give audiences time to get to know them  – just like Marvel did with Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America etc. And finally they need one person, similar to Marvel’s Kevin Feige to “Godfather” the whole franchise instead of involving lots of different people and practicing movie making by committee -for a prime example of this see Suicide Squad if you don’t believe me.

So where do we go from here? Certainly there are some positive signs – next year we have James Wan’s Aquaman which sounds like it could be good fun, Wonder Woman 2 has recently been given the green light, Joss Whedon says he is going to  direct Batgirl which could be good and the supremely talented Matt Reeves is gearing up for a new Batman trilogy. However  we still  don’t know about fate of the Flash movie which has gone through more than one director before a single frame has been shot, Green Lantern Corps is still in limbo,  Affleck wont say if he’ll play Batman again (and who could blame him) a Man Of Steel sequel possibly has George Miller attached to direct but nothing has been announced,  Suicide Squad 2 is going ahead  – but who cares?  Then there seems to be vague plans of a Justice League Dark project, plus rumors abound that Warners and DC are moving away from the expanded universe all together. All i can say is that Marvel must be rubbing their hands with glee.

To conclude i have to say that I very much wanted Justice League to work better than it did. As mentioned it was entertaining and there were parts that were great fun. But too many silly issues, tonal inconsistencies and lazy film making decisions  badly dragged it down. My hope now is that perhaps there will be a blu ray directors cut which (like BVS) will improve on the cinematic version and if there is  i’ll certainly be the first in line to buy it. Whatever happens –  Warners and DC have a hell of alot of serious thinking to do if they are going to compete with Kevin Feige and the mighty Marvel Studios  – on the strength of their output so far they’ve got their work cut out big time.


Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek


Phil’s Top 5… DC Live Action Superhero Films

Phil’s Top 5… DC Live Action Superhero Films

Other Cr*p Top 5

Each week Phil, from Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, takes a look at a different movie or TV related Top Five.  This time out: DC’s Live Action Superhero Films


Close but no cigar: Batman The Movie, Batman, Wonder Woman

5 –  Superman
It’s aged badly for sure but Christopher Reeve is just the quintessential superhero in an age where superhero didn’t exist.  And don’t undersell how much Reeve MAKES this film.

4 – Batman Begins
Another Batman, but unlike any other origin movie Batman Begins takes the character right back to the start  in a brilliant way.

3 – Superman 2
Superman 2 is great.  It mostly holds up well, it’s got greta villains and the central relationship between Clark and Lois holds the film together well.

2 – Batman Returns
Controversial maybe but for me the second best Batman film and the BEST of the two Tim Burton films.  Its dark, brutal and unlike any other film produced in that era.  Mainstream comic book films will NEVER be like this again.

1 – The Dark Knight
The best film of the 2000’s with an iconic performance by Ledger, a cracking story and a “real world” fee that recent DC films have lacked.  In short: The Dark Knight Rises is near perfect