Shazam! A Movie Review, Sort Of

Shazam! as a superhero origin story is simply magical! No, really, I mean his origin is Harry Potter's. He's not the strange visitor from another planet, no one gave him a lantern powered ring, and he wasn't bitten by a radioactive anything. Billy Batson is an orphan, who wants nothing more in life than to find his real mom. Even if it means calling in an occasional false police report. Young Billy is a bit of a troublemaker.

Family is a theme that runs through the film. The stern father and sterner grandfather of the kid who turns into a super villain, the foster parents and foster kids that young 14 year old Billy finds himself living among. An exploration of what family really means.

Billy Batson made his first appearance in 1939 as the boy who uttered a magic word to turn himself into "Captain Marvel". The magic word Shazam was an acronym for

The wisdom of Solomon

The Strength of Hercules

The stamina of Atlas

The power of Zeus

The invulnerability or courage of Achilles

And the speed of Mercury

We we have an admixture of magic and mythology here, too. And theology. Billy was supposed to acquire the wisdom of Solomon as he fought against the embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins. The element of theology is downplayed in the movie. The foster kids give thanks before every meal, but it isn't exactly clear who they're thanking. Solomon's wisdom is clearly non-existent, as the wizard picks a delinquent 14 year old boy to be his champion, whereas I might have picked a police detective or a Navy SEAL. The fourteen year old exhibited all the wisdom...of a fourteen year old!

In many ways, Shazam! is the movie you would have had in "Big", if the Tom Hanks character had told the magic fortune teller "I want to be Superman!" There's even a small homage to Big as Shazam, nee Captain Marvel, fights the villain in a toy store.

Zachary Levi does a yeoman's job as the "Big" superhero, expressing childlike wonder at all the new and wonderful things he is able to do, yet reluctant when called upon to fight real evil. Shazam is a good solid popcorn movie, suitable for most children and some adults. It's entertaining, without being preachy about anything (a rarity in today's atmosphere). I don't remember a single call to save the planet over global warming, or saving the whales or the rainforests.

It's a comic book movie. No enduring truths. No stirring calls to action. Just sit your behind in the seat, or rent the Blu-ray, and absorb a little semi-mindless fantasy for an hour or so. I'd give it three out of five stars.

Ah, Earth Day...the Irony!

Monday April 22nd. was Earth Day. A day dedicated to saving the planet through energy conservation and...recycling!
STOCKTON — A thick, billowy plume of black smoke visible for miles scarred an otherwise pristine blue sky over the Port of Stockton on Monday afternoon, caused by a stubborn, wind-blown fire at... a recycling center. ...The blaze was fueled mostly by pallets of paper, plastics and other recyclables.
Forget your carbon offsets! Ain't no thicker, blacker smoke than a good plastic fire. Burning tires come close, if you have enough of them, but the irony of filling a pristine blue sky with thick black smoke from recyclables on Earth Day was just too precious not to take note of!And, lest we forget, April 22nd. is also Vladimir Lenin's birthday!

Happy Earth Day from Stockton, California! Happy belated birthday, Vlad!

Socialism in All its Flavors

Pick any flavor of socialism you like...

Sorry. We're all out of that one!

Unplanned - A Movie Review, Sort Of

First, a little background. I went to see the movie "Unplanned" Monday. Seems rather apt, since I wasn't planning on seeing it, until I became aware of the coordinated efforts on the Left to keep this movie from being seen. There was an overall media blackout. I hadn't heard any buzz about it, and aside from an occasional ad on Fox (props to them, by the way), I'd heard nothing about it. Seems that they tried to buy ads on Lifetime, Hallmark and HGTV, who weren't accepting its ads. Twitter was playing Mickey Mouse games with the movie's Twitter account followers, unfollowing them, hiding the account.

And then, irony of ironies, the movie was given an "R" rating! Totally unjustified! I watched a program on broadcast TV a couple of nights ago, where a man was brutally stabbed to death, in a much more graphic display of violence than anything you will see in this movie. So imagine people who think that fifteen year olds should be able to get an abortion without their parents' permission, cannot watch a movie about abortion, without their parents' permission!

Why doesn't the Left want anyone to see this movie? Because it gives an honest portrayal of Planned Parenthood and their place in the abortion industry. Unplanned is the story of Abby Johnson, an idealistic young woman who went to work for PP, and in eight years, became their youngest clinic director in the nation. This story is, as they say in the vernacular, "ripped from the headlines", which provides fodder for countless TV shows and movies, but this movie shows an honest and unflattering peek behind Planned Parenthood's closed doors, which made it  radioactive to the usual media suspects.

But Abby Johnson is no plaster saint. She had one failed marriage and two abortions herself. The pro-life protesters are not air brushed. Some outside the clinics shout "Baby killer", one wears a Grim Reaper outfit. The movie flashes back to Abby's college days where she is recruited as a PP volunteer. The lead actress, Ashley Bratcher, does an excellent job of portraying this woman on her journey to enlightenment. The supporting cast is good, perhaps not as polished as they might be, but considering the size of the budget and the subject matter, the cast is solid. There's even a cameo by "That Pillow Guy", Mike Lindell, who helped finance the project.

The accompanying music was quite good, considering the fact that a number of people refused to license their music for use in the movie.

Unplanned is the 'Little Movie That Could', overcoming opposition and great odds to tell a story that every teenage child in the country should see, before they consider an abortion for themselves, or helping a friend to get one.

In spite of all the obstacles placed in its way, "Unplanned" finished in 5th place at the box office this weekend. It is heart tugging and heart breaking at times, but well worth the price of admission. I give it four out of five stars.

As Alexandra DeSanctis put it, "None of it is easy to watch. But none of it is a lie."