Films, Netflix and games reviewed
To say this particular DC Comics hero had waited a while to make his big-screen comeback is a massive understatement. It’s been 78 years since CC Beck and Bill Parker’s character was brought to life in the Adventures of Captain Marvel series.
Ignore the trademark wrangles between DC and Marvel that forced a name change for a superhero whose popularity outstripped even that of Superman and enjoy this seventh instalment of the DC Extended Universe for what it is: a jolly romp that will appeal hugely to young fans and comic geeks.
Henry Gayden’s screenplay follows teenage orphan Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who has been shifted from foster home to foster home and been deemed a troublemaker with an increasingly uncertain future. After befriending superhero fan and disable foster brother Freddy Freeman and defending him from the school bully, Billy hops on the subway where he is transported to the realm of an ancient wizard, Shazam (Djimon Hounsou). He hands Billy the power to transform into a full-blown superhero, with the combined skills of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury (ah, so that’s why he’s called Shazam!).
David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) directs with some aplomb given his no-budget horror background. And Zachary Levi is pretty likeable as the chirpy adult superhero who must thwart Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), a villain still smarting from being snubbed for the role of the Wizard Shazam’s champion back in the day. It’s just a lot of fun.
In cinemas April 4
Pet Sematary (18)
Some 30 years since Stephen King adapted his own horror novel for the big screen, Pet Sematary has risen from the grave. Fright-fest specialists Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer have brought this horror masterpiece back from the dead, just like the Creed family’s beloved kitty, Church. After more tragedy befalls the Creeds, Dr. Louis (Jason Clarke) turns to the mysterious powers of the burial ground, unleashing pure evil in the process.
In cinemas April 4
We Die Young (18)
They say actions speak louder than words and that old adage could rarely be epitomised better than by Jean-Claude Van Damme’s turn in this Lior Geller action thriller. You rarely hear a peep out of his war veteran Daniel as he tries to save young brothers Lucas (Elijah Rodriguez) and Miguel (Nicholas Sean Johnny) from a life of crime with a notorious gang. Perhaps it’s the PTSD rendering our hero the strong, silent type.
In cinemas now
Ever the progressive broadcaster (he did commission Monty Python’s Flying Circus, after all) it seemed only natural that David Atteborough would join the Netflix revolution. Our Planet sees him team up once more with Alastair Fothergill (Planet Earth, Blue Planet) for this eight-part series that will look at how climate change is affecting the place we call home, and all the living creatures who we share it with. Another piece of unmissable TV.
Out on Netflix from April 5
Generation Zero (PEGI 16)
This guerilla action game might have upset artist Simon Stålenhag with its similarities to his own work but imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all. You play one of a group of students who’ve returned from an island retreat to find their slice of 1980s Sweden is bereft of human life, with killer robots now in charge. It’s your mission to take the power back, ridding this beautiful open world of its new overlords.
Out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC
Yoshi’s Crafted World
When Nintendo decides it’s finally time to release an exclusive new platformer on its consoles, it’s a big deal. Not just because each of them are few and (very) far between, but mainly because Nintendo completely nails the gameplay, design and overall fun factor of them all (except you, Super Mario Bros. 2). Yoshi’s Crafted World is no exception to that rule, thanks to its stunningly crafted art style, comfortable controls and brilliantly diverse level design. Also, have you seen how adorable developer Good-Feel made Yoshi this time around? That’s reason enough to get the green dinosaur’s solo game.
Don’t fret, there are plenty of other reasons to pick up Yoshi’s latest outing, with a big one being the introduction of it’s 2.5D gameplay. That means it acts like a standard 2D side-scroller, but adds in the magical dimension of, to put it simply, pressing up and down in certain sections. That’s nothing new, but Crafted World takes it a step further by letting players interact with objects out-of-reach from the general path by having Yoshi throw one of his iconic eggs at coins, enemies or even switches to unlock new areas. It brings a whole-new layer to gameplay that will have players take in each and every detail of levels. You would anyway, as the setting is animated with a charming “arts and crafts” style – think cardboard cut-outs of trees and sheep made of paper (hence the title of the game).
Prepare to ogle at all the designs for hours on end too, as the game also adds a level-flipping dynamic that brings a new perspective to each stage. That’s near-endless replayability right there, which means more time to get fully absorbed into the clean-cut controls. Unless gamers are new to Nintendo platformers, there’s nothing to get to grips with. Players will still be jumping and doing Yoshi’s signature mid-air flutter to glide, swallowing enemies with his elongated tongue and turning them into eggs, and hitching a ride on pet-ally Poochy to take down bigger enemies. Simple.
Although, that simplicity begs the question: is Yoshi’s Crafted World too easy? It’s no doubt a game catered for families and their kids to play, but so is Super Mario Odyssey, and adults still scratch their heads over platform elements in that. From what we’ve played, it is, but later levels may give us a bit more of a challenge.
Nevertheless, we can’t wait to get our mitts on this. So should you.
Available on Nintendo Switch. Mar 29.