The Oberlin Review

DC Turns out Delightful Superhero Comedy with “Shazam!”

Kabir Karamchandani, Staff Writer

April 12, 2019

The latest Warner Bros.’ DC Comics film, Shazam!, is a pleasant deviation from their usual darker fare such as Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The cheerful, funny Shazam! is the first DC Extended Universe film to go beyond its role as a superhero action movie — it also serves as a coming-of-age story with strong family themes. While the action and visual effects are a little lacking at times, an excellent script with relatable characters, genuine emotional stakes, and spot-on humor more than makes up for it, making Shazam! my personal favorite of the DC films so far. Stars Asher Angel and Zachary Levi do an excellent job playing the protagonist, Billy Batson, and his superhero alter-ego, Shaza...

Nanjiani’s Big Sick Defies Genre Conventions

Jordan Joseph, Contributing Writer

September 1, 2017

The Big Sick, which trailers present as a sickly-sweet romantic comedy with a Pakistani-American protagonist, is currently one of the highest grossing independent films of the year — and for good reason. While the trailer might draw viewers into the theater, beneath its tightly-packaged exterior, The Big Sick is so much more. The film, a mostly autobiographical narrative written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, follows Kumail (played by Nanjiani) as he reconciles budding comedic fame with getting older. Kumail comes from a traditional Pakistani family that expects him to marry a Pakistani woman, so Kumail’s mother sets off to find a wife for her son in her own way. Much to Kumail’s chagrin, this inv...

Off the Cuff: Thais Francis, Actor, Writer and Producer

Off the Cuff: Thais Francis, Actor, Writer and Producer

December 12, 2015

Thais Francis is an actor, dancer, singer, writer, producer and instrumentalist who recently released a short film called Late Expectations. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Francis grew up in suburban Maryland before graduating from the Tisch School of Arts at New York University with an acting degree. Francis has performed at the Historic Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., Radio City Music Hall and Yankee Stadium in New York City. A recipient of the NYU Nia Award for Lorraine Hansberry Arts...

Political Issues Weigh Down Action Film

Christian Bolles, Columnist

September 11, 2015

Content Warning: This review discusses violent and potentially offensive themes that may be disturbing to some readers. In order to properly instill fear in the audience, horror and action filmmakers exploit deep sources of paranoia and thrust them onto the screen. This leverage of the human psyche often manifests itself as a masked man with a knife or a bloodthirsty beast; the former plays on our knowledge of the potential cruelty of other humans and the latter on our wariness of the unknown. No Escape weighs both of these options and settles for a not-so-happy medium. This decision gives rise to one of the greatest narrative miscalculations in recent memory. Brothers John and Drew Dowdle, who wrote and directe...

Fifty Shades of Grey Falls Flat

Clark Sacktor, Columnist

March 6, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey, adapted from the widely popular trilogy of adult novels, made its highly anticipated debut on Feb. 13 and has quickly become one of the most talked-about films of the year. I cannot comment on how faithfully the film adheres to the original storyline given that I have not read the books myself. However, E.L. James — the author of the trilogy, which was originally intended to be Twilight fan fiction — had never worked on a film set before but played an integral role in developing the motion picture. The story revolves around Anastasia Steele, an undergraduate literature student at Washington State University. As a favor to her sick roommate, a reporter for the college newspaper, she interviews a ...

‘Rotten’ Flick Features Last Farley Appearance

February 20, 2015

Nate Levinson Columnist This column is the first in a series that will review movies that receive the dubious distinction of an under-20 percent rating on the Tomatometer on the movies we love that the critics didn’t. This week I turn my attention to Beverly Hills Ninja, a 1997 comedy starring Chris Farley and Nicollette Sheridan with a 14 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Movie critic Pete Vonder Haar hated the movie so much that he wrote, “Maybe Death did Chris Farley a favor by sparing him from making more shit like this.” I definitely wouldn’t go as far as Vonder Haar, as I find it hard to believe anyone who signed up to watch a movie about a fat, idiotic ninja i...

Cast Lends Dramatic Punch to Whiplash

Cast Lends Dramatic Punch to Whiplash

February 6, 2015

Whiplash may not be a thriller, but the movie contains moments more terrifying than any horror film released this year. Despite the lack of buzz over Damien Chazelle’s dramatic jazz flick Whiplash, the movie is a standout in the 2014 Oscar lineup. Miles Teller plays Andrew, a first-year student at the fictional New York conservatory Shaffer, studying drums under Terence Fletcher, a cutthroat professor played by J.K. Simmons. The stirring chemistry between this duo adds a dramatic punch to an alrea...

The Equalizer Entertaining if Conventional

The Equalizer Entertaining if Conventional

October 3, 2014

Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer avoids mediocrity through stylized cinematography despite being an archetypal action film. The movie, which is playing at the Apollo Theatre until Oct. 9, is the second of Fuqua’s productions to star actor Denzel Washington and is based on a 1980s TV show of the same name. While certainly a step down from their previous collaboration, Training Day, the film is not devoid of entertaining moments. The film begins with a meticulous home improvement depot employee na...

A Most Wanted Man Features Stellar Cast

Clark Sacktor, Columnist

September 19, 2014

A Most Wanted Man, which aired briefly at the Apollo Theatre this past week, has a surprisingly straightforward plot for a thriller. Directed by Anton Corbijn, the film is an adaptation of the eponymous book by John le Carré, author of The Constant Gardener and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Corbijn, who directed The American, another restrained spy thriller, makes use of what appears to be a hand-held camera to convey the paranoia seeping through the two-hour runtime. Corbijn does not rely on fancy camerawork, but instead adopts a minimalist approach, using various degrees of close-ups to place a focus on the actors’ individual performances. The movie is concerned with the international workings of spy organizations compe...

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