2019, Movies

Shazam! (2019, David F. Sandberg)

Imagine: a light and lighthearted and (shock! horror!) entertaining, low-stakes D.C. movie. Turns out, it’s possible.

This is a refreshingly goofy, light, low-stakes comic book movie that is somehow a D.C. property. Whereas basically every other D.C. film I’ve seen – excepting Birds of Prey and the second Suicide Squad, I guess – is a dour, bleak Marvel rip-off, this film just feels like what a comic book movie is supposed to be. A kid accidentally gets powers and has to battle someone who wants to steal his powers. That’s basically it. In the interim, it is silly, as it should be. It’s even more appropriate given this is the character that Marvel hijacked (if I’m not mistaken).

I can’t say I love Angel, I’m definitely not sold on him as a leading actor. But Grazer and his other siblings, and Strong and Levi – Levi is particularly good – and the rest of the cast are good enough to make up for the lack of charisma in the (pseudo) lead.

The story is relatively simple for a 21st century comic book movie. And it’s nice low stakes, with Strong’s character just trying to steal Angel’s/Levi’s character’s powers. Sure, there may be bigger stakes if he succeeds, but it’s nothing too serious.

The script has enough jokes and enough of a development arc to keep us paying attention even if the runtime is perhaps a little longer than it needs to be. Whether or not this story is from an actual comic book, the angle of the foster kid and his family is a good hook to hang everything else on. It works and it feels fresh enough, even though there are obvious echoes to some other characters.

My biggest quibble is likely with the source material but regardless: the seven deadly sins monsters don’t make any sense as they are all just even blobs, regardless of their name. Couldn’t a little bit of effort been put into making them characters who are actually promoting their specific sin? As they are, they’re just a bunch of monsters and naming them after the sins is pointless.

But, honestly, this worked for me. And I’m shocked. I have such low expectations for D.C. films at this point that maybe that’s why I enjoyed it. But I do think it’s among the best post-Nolan D.C. films – if not the best, which is crazy – and it really does work as a movie. I actually enjoyed watching it, for the most part. I can’t believe I’m saying that.


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