The Little Things Review

It’s a lot of little things that makes this movie difficult to watch.

Probably Not Worth Your Time

How to talk about my thoughts of The Little Things? I guess to start, I’ll help you understand why I am opening with a question. Have you ever watched a movie or a tv show, or even read a book where while you are experiencing it you begin to understand that this feels very similar to “X” example? And then your second thought is and X was so good why isn’t this? Well that’s kind of the feeling I have with this movie, and I’m struggling to fully express my thoughts without first giving you that background. I have watched plenty of crime/drama/thriller’s in my life, and those prior experiences make this movie feel lesser than what I’m sure someone fresh to the genre may find as a decent if not good starting point.

Me though? I can’t say I was a huge fan. Which is all the more difficult for me since the three leads of this movie are fun to watch. Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, these are all Academy Award winning actors. They are in a genre that suits their talents, and they are playing roles that fit them well, but damn it, this movie falls flat for me.

The general premise of The Little Things is Rami Malek’s Jim Baxter is leading a case to find a murderer who is killing young women in very specific ways. This is a serial killer, with a pattern. Washington’s Joe Deacon is a washed up former detective who once had Baxter’s exact position. Something went wrong though, and it destroyed his life, to where all he has are cases and the inability to let it go. This pair latch onto Leto’s Albert Sparma, a creepy guy who fits the bill of the murderer. Thus begins a story of trying to prove that the slime ball did it. Yet at the same time the film is trying to build up a focus of comparing the two lawmen, showing what happens to someone who let his job consume him, and someone just starting to fall down that path. Both of these stories have promise and could be an interesting journey. The problem is when they come to a head in the end, it’s just not very satisfying.

I’m convinced that if given several more hours this film’s conclusion could have worked. But it also could have simply been a structural problem. The film gives more of a spotlight to Washington’s Baxter, but it’s Malek’s character that actually goes through a significant transformation. If we were given more time with him, it might have felt more consequential, instead it’s focus on following an already relatively ruined man doesn’t really work too well unless the mystery leads to a conclusion that gives him something he didn’t have before. This film doesn’t do that.

Stepping away from the heart of what makes this thing tick, I still have to give it to the trio of leads. They are still entertaining to watch. Yet at times Washington’s character had mannerisms to him that really misled me to an unsatisfying conclusion by the end of the film. It’s like he was trying to will a more interesting story for his character that never got the onscreen moment to confirm it.

All this is to say, somewhere there is a really great crime mini series that these three actors could have been a part of. Instead The Little Things is a movie with missed potential that left me disappointed and thinking about wanting to go and watch HBO’s True Detective again.


Shazam! Review

Shazam! is a superhero blast, with a stellar combination of humor and heart that must be seen!

Score: 4/5


Huh? Awww….

Sorry, I thought… nevermind, hey everyone! Talk about a fun with a capital F superhero movie. For those who don’t like reading, I’ll just spoil the review. Shazam! is awesome, just watch a trailer and if it even makes you smirk a little go get a movie ticket as soon as possible and watch this movie!

Alright, time to call down and get the movie review hat on. Shazam! is a superhero story about Billy Batson, a 14 year old orphan looking for family that also happens to run into a wizard bestowing upon him the powers of superhero. All he has to do is say the name of the wizard (Shazam), a bolt of lightning shoots from the sky and poof! Superhero! Suddenly the 14 year old Batson is a full grown adult in his superhero prime with more powers than he even realizes. Coupled with his crippled superhero obsessed foster brother Freddy, the two embrace in the delight of what it would be like to be a young teenager with superpowers.

It’s Big meets Superhero, and it works so damn well. The heart and joy in this movie is spilling from every scene and it has everything to do with an amazing cast and a script that revels in this premise. Jokes fly fast and furious as Billy and Freddy learn of all of the superpowers Billy actually has, and along the way a story about family and home just warms your insides. One funny gag that plays throughout is the pair trying to come up with a superhero name for Billy. Sparkle Fingers is a personal favorite, and then there is one scene towards the end of the film that just captured the tone of the entire film in one minute. It’s clear there was a lot of love that went into creating a superhero movie that isn’t lost in end of the world stakes, but very human relatable ones. It’s great great great stuff.

Great script or not, it would not have worked nearly as well if it wasn’t for such a great cast. Zachary Levi was the perfect actor to play the role of the super powered Shazam. He captures that child stuck in a superhero’s body with uncanny skill. I’m not convinced that he isn’t actually just a 14 year old that says a special word to become Zachary Levi. I have always enjoyed his career but this is HIS role and I hope we see more of him in the red supersuit. Along with Zachary, is Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy his crippled superhero manager, and Asher Angel as boy version of Billy. The dynamic these three actors share of two growing friends and brothers is great. Make no mistake Freddy is the glue that makes this all work and I give him extra props for really selling this.

But wait! The rest of the cast is a lot of fun as well. Billy’s foster family is just wonderful. Everyone of them a positive light for Billy as well as the audience. It makes for even more fun in the climax when the foster children have their chance to really shine. The twist is great and adds for the most fun end to a superhero movie that I have seen this century. On the villain side Mark Strong slips into his tried true bad guy persona.

This is where the movie is weakest. Not because of Mark Strong, he’s always fun to watch twirling his invisible mustache. No it has to do with missed potential of what Strong’s Dr. Thaddeus Sivana could have been. It appears that the focus on Shazam and the foster family just left a lot of missed opportunities with Sivana and his seven deadly sin monsters. They worked as the typical bad guy fodder save for the monsters felt a little too CGI at points. The rest of the visuals involving Shazam and his powers though were a joy to watch, especially on an IMAX screen.

All that taken into account though, nothing can take away that Shazam! is easily the most positive messaged and joyful superhero movie I have seen. I loved the dynamics of the cast, the messages of home and family, the jokes, and the spirit of fun that was baked into every frame. Shazam! Is the superhero we have been missing in our lives. Now say his name, and fly to theaters!