Shazam!: Don’t Let DC Get Hot…

So it’s been a few days since I’ve thrown up a blog but, as everyone knows, life is about overcoming obstacles. It’s about spitting adversity in the face. It’s about paying nearly $10 to see a Shazam! movie you know nothing about and engaging in 2 hours of psychological warfare over whether or not $5.75 is a reasonable sacrifice in order to get your hands on movie theater popcorn. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t give in…

As always, I have to give my disclaimer when it comes to super hero movies: I’m not a gigantic fan. I used to despise them, but that was before I realized that the only thing worse than the Marvel/DC fuck boys are the elitists who think they’re better than everyone else on Twitter simply because they have a more refined cinematic palette.

So yeah, I’ve come to enjoy these things and I think what really got me on board was the whole genre shift the industry took. Before Iron Man and and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy got off the ground, most super hero movies were pretty dense and predictable in what they attempted. Simply put, there was a 2-dimensional protagonist, a 2-dimensional antagonist, relatively predictable dialogue, and a series of cliché beats. Since then, Marvel has become more hip to things and it’s part of the reason why a movie like Endgame has a chance to surpass Avatar at the box office later this month…

Given the popularity of Downey in the Iron Man franchise, we’ve seen Marvel take some comedic risks recently—Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool—and all have panned out so when I initially saw the trailer for Shazam!, it was pretty easy to tell DC was trying to emulate that success.

And for the most part, they did…

For context: Shazam! follows the story of Billy Batson, a street-wise orphan who, through a series of encounters with some wizard (long story), develops the ability to transform into the adult super hero Shazam simply by shouting his name.

Strictly speaking, I had ZERO idea who Shazam was prior to seeing the trailer for this movie. Personally, I understand I’m not the biggest super hero fan but I can’t be alone on this one. I mean, I don’t remember a single reference to this dude ANYWHERE growing up. At first, I thought it was a remake of that shitty genie move Shaq made in the 90s. Turns out, I guess Shazam is basically just Superman with more powers and a different origin story.

Since this was an origin story, Shazam! starts out slow. And although I understand all origin narratives require appropriate expositional time, there’s always a part of me that’s just screaming my head off for the main actor/actress to get in the suit already.

Once he does though, things tend to pick up almost immediately. Most of the comedy manifests from the fact a 14-year-old just inherited 20-year-old body, as well as super powers; however, it’s done well, and a lot of that credit goes to Zachary Levi.

I wasn’t too familiar with this dude prior to yesterday’s showing but he was a lot of fun in this role. When I reviewed Captain Marvel a few weeks ago, I mentioned one of the main reasons I disliked it was due to poor casting. I felt Marvel tried to continue its run of slick-talking, witty protagonists and Brie Larson flat out didn’t have the comedic chops to make it work. Levi, on the other hand, displayed that boyish charisma that can really draw an audience in. Not to mention, that dude’s fuckin HUGE. I know the suit is a tad ridiculous looking (I think that was intended) but if he’s any shorter than 6’7″, I’ll be floored…

Outside of that, Shazam! missed its mark in some of the more emotional/action parts. One of the main things I look for in super hero movies are “Let’s gooo!” moments. For example, when Thor returns during that Wakanda battle in Infinity War, THAT was a “Let’s gooo!” moment and I couldn’t name a single one in Shazam!

All in all though, it was a fun, borderline Deadpool knockoff that’ll have DC fans feeling optimistic about the direction their franchises could potentially take. In fact, with the commercial success of Aquaman in their rear view as well, I could see DC making one of those runs Disney Animation recently went on in the shadow of Pixar. Fingers crossed…

Final Score: 8.3 out of 10 Boats

– Joey Boats (@joey_boats)

2019-2020 Scores

Fighting With My Family: 9.4
Captain Marvel: 6.4
How To Train Your Dragon 3: 8.9
US: 8.4
Dumbo: 4.3

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