I was frustrated to discover my DVD of DIE NIBELUNGEN: Siegfried (1924) was scratched enough the last 40 minutes were unwatchable (I compensated with a German edition uploaded to YouTube). Fritz Lang’s film itself, though, is superb, telling the legend of Siegfried who over the course of the film forges a sword, slays a dragon (a really impressive sequence — Full Metal Alchemist: The Movie has Lang filming it during a visit by Elric to our world) and then helps the weakling king Gunther win the warrior queen Brunhilde under false pretenses (helping the king invisibly during trials of strength) in return for the hand of the king’s sister. Hmm, it’s possible this will not end well …Great-looking and impressively epic; I do hope Part Two is in better condition. “Whoever forsakes loyalty to the blood brother shall perish at the wayside, all honor lost.”
Alfred Hitchcock’s THE RING (1927) is a romance about a small-time boxer whose rise in the rankings becomes a personal quest when he discovers his wife is stepping out with the current champ. A vast improvement over Easy Virtue, with some excellent visuals, such as the opening scenes of carnival gaiety. However the romance is less than compelling (the wife is so faithless, it’s hard to be happy he wins her back) and one character drops the n-word mid-movie, neither of which is a plus.
SHAZAM! (2019) reworks Geoff Johns’ New 52 version of the original Captain Marvel (the name change is because Marvel’s Captain Marvel has that name trademarked so DC’s version can’t use the name in the title). Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a tough street kid desperate to find his long-lost mother, now stuck in his umpteenth foster home and unable to see it’s a good one. A wizard (Djimon Honsou) gives Billy the power to transform into super-powered Shazam (Zachary Levi) but neglects to tell him that Sivana (Mark Strong), who was turned down for the gig, has now freed the Seven Deadly Sins and plans using their power to steal the Shazam-magic.
I’m glad they shot for an upbeat film rather than grim-and-gritty because Cap — er, Shazam — is a light-hearted character. But Levi’s Shazam comes off more like a nine-year-old than the focused, tough-nosed Angel and Strong’s Sivana is generic in his evil evilness (making him a Child of Abuse is a cliche — and having his father played by John Glover makes this feel like a Smallville reboot); the goofy comic-book version would have fit the mood better. The Seven Sins are also surprisingly dull, just big CGI monsters; despite Honsou warning that they’ll corrupt the world, they’re more about killing and destroying. They might as well have been Plutonians.
The best part of the film is Billy bonding with his family and finding a way out of his loneliness. It’s sweet, but it’s not enough to save the film. “You seek a purer soul, old man — but none are worthy.”
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