Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shazam! (2019) - Review

Latest DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie is an action-comedy that seemingly won over the critics (91% on Rotten Tomatoes) but is their least ambitious film yet.

The movie's main inspiration came from Geoff Johns' backup stories in the New 52 Justice League comics (i.e., a quarter of each volume) from 2012 - 2013. As a fan of DC comics and Geoff Johns' writing, I enjoyed reading Billy Batson's story. But perhaps that story was better served in small doses (similar to the backup entries in Justice League comics). 

The movie attempts to bring a lot of laughs and heart, and in my opinion, succeeds more in the latter than former. Billy as an orphan searching for his birth mother, goes through a self-discovery journey that has an emotional payoff in the end. But the comedy was underwhelming - as with most highly advertised comedies, all the funny parts had been shown a thousand times in trailers and tv spots before the movie went on screens. 

The other flaw was the dissonance between Zachary Levi's Shazam and Asher Angel's Billy Batson. These two actors are playing the same character as Billy is the alter ego of the Shazam. However, their personalities were completely different. Billy Batson is a cynical and serious 14 year old who's scarred by abandonment issues, while Zachary Levi's portrayal is a happy-go-lucky goofball who doesn't have a serious bone in his body... Both characters are likeable, but they are not the same! Shazam is a young boy in an adult man's body, while Billy is an adult in a young boy's body.

I should give props to other characters though, particularly Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), as they were played by actors who were born to play those roles. 

Overall, the movie had heart but not much spectacle. In that regard, Aquaman was a better movie (funny and full of heroics). I'd give Shazam a 7.5/10.

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