Shazam! (2019): Film Review
Looking back on it, it is truly evident that DC Comics' newest film endeavor, Shazam!, was done dirty by its two trailers. Between the two, the film was pinned out to be a dumb attempt in being like Marvel, but falling flat on all attempts. In fact, the only thing that sold me on even seeing the film in the first place was the fact that it was filmed in Toronto (but sadly not set there). Besides that, the film looked like the equal of a Disney Channel original, complete with corny dialogue and drastically terrible special effects. My best advice for enjoying this film thoroughly: forget everything you know, and saw, from the trailers. Because Shazam! is filled with fun, joy, and spirit - encapsulating what it truly means to have "childhood innocence" in the fullest. And just by doing that, it has proved why DC's new film strategy (a.k.a. getting good directors to tell new stories) has worked so effectively. The film tells the story of Billy Batson, a foster kid who just doesn't know where he belongs in the world. One day, while on the run from bullies, his ride on the Subway leads into the supernatural, when he encounters an old "wizard" living in an abandoned cave. In desperate need of an heir, the wizard hands over all of his powers to Billy, requiring only one thing in return: the word "Shazam", or the wizard's name, as he says. What follows is a mix of any superhero movie, any school life movie, and a specific homage to the iconic Tom Hanks starring Big. All Batson has to do to switch his ego is to say the simple word Shazam! The film succeeds quite easily in the category where most DC films get stuck - it is simply just a lot of fun. Although not all jokes hit with the audience, a majority of them do, bringing light to a story that can get quite dark sometimes. Although the superhero vs. villain fight that encapsulates the movie is pretty decent, the film's footing is strongest when it serves as a coming-of-age story for Batson, striking both emotional cores and humor in perfect balance, the way it should be. To put it in perspective, Shazam! is like the Spider-Man: Homecoming of the DC Extended Universe. It serves as both a superhero movie and a high school movie, not providing too much of either genre. Levi gives an absolutely smashing performance, nailing Batson's childhood attitude perfectly at every moment he's onscreen. Personally, I haven't seen an "adult impersonating kid" performance this good since Jack Black in the Jumanji revival, which is truly saying something. Although the final climatic battle does drag on at multiple points, and is sometimes hard to focus on, it is still filled with the classic humor that proves so prevalent throughout the rest of the film. In conclusion, it all truly comes down to this. To truly enjoy Shazam! in its entirety, you have to do one thing. You have to approach the film with a child-like mindset, the way the film is meant to be viewed. Sit back, relax, and enjoy - because the base of this superhero movie is simply a fun time, which is refreshing for an extended universe that limited fun for years after years. Shazam! is a huge step forward for DC Studios, and signals that if they stay on this route they have decided to take, a bright future lies ahead. Simple as that.