Sorry guys, the DCEU keeps the same crappy identity it had before, and Shazam! proves how much Warner Bros. wastes time with what it wants to be. Off their record of consistently bad films, DC Entertainment thinks sincerity means following impulsive actions, a mindset they convey with their newest addition to the extended universe, Billy (AKA, “Shazam”).
This kid enjoys food, not within a family dinner table, but alone at a burger joint to get high on fructose. Any sense of connection between himself and others is so empty, he barely even conveys any apparent thoughts on the fact that his disabled foster brother wants to be him: a big, tough, handsome man with superpowers and no physical ailments. Billy is so distanced from the viewer, that even an inanimate plush tiger has better character development.
Also embracing those McDonald’s carbs, yet somehow perfectly healthy, is Billy’s absent mom, whose barely present subplot conributes nothing to the point where it only distracts from the other conflicts. As much as it tries to uplift the heart of the feature, it does so in all the wrong places. Other elements within the script that would actually benefit from extra screentime don‘t get it, particularly a wizard with an aged hairstyle that marks him as the only controller of mass hysteria.
It’s better to quench thirst with something actually important, more so than anything that happens to the kid actors of this movie. These youngsters are neither good at acting nor playing decent role models; Billy’s first move is him locking up cops to rob their car, and without any real punishment for it after! Meanwhile, a young girl of Billy’s foster home always looks personally unphased by anything, even sights as miraculous as crocodiles with poker chips. This inactive lassie drags the rhythm of each scene down to the point where a recurring, funny Santa earns more attention than the leads.
Then there’s the unintentionally funny prologue to the film, which expects authenticity when one of the passive twerps of that scene grows up into a monologuing bad guy worth being mocked by some kid. He’s not someone to be taken seriously and should have been much grittier to shine a brighter light against the wisecracking protagonist. If this bad guy was jokingly called, “Thundercrack,” or “Captain Sparklefingers,” he would for sure react too softly to be realistic. But hey, at least those two nicknames serve as great modes of successful laughs during Billy’s hilarious discovery of his powers.
Billy doesn’t accept either of those nicknames as a superhero name, nor does he want to live under anyone besides a biological parent. That ambition is not one that anyone of mature mind would want to connect with, particularly seeing how horrible the mother is as seen through flashbacks, even more so than the stupid-looking CGI demons who throw people out of windows. Not even a teenager on a crutch with three months terminal cancer is successful at generating sympathy. As much as director David F. Sandberg utilizes his horror resume, he still flops at directing emotion while trying to modernize old tropes. There’s one point when an FAO Schwartz piano is incorporated into a mall fight, which is funny alright, but doesn’t flow into the intent of giving comic book movies a new edge.
The problem lies in the screenplay’s logic, which is still the exact same as comic books have been since their inception. Heck, this even takes it a step further by saying that Billy was chosen by the wizard because he’s apparently, “pure in heart.” Yeah, right! Why would an overacting jerk who relies on impulses, Frito’s in hand, be “pure in heart?” The same goes to his irksome ol’ sidekick with the crutch, he’s so annoying that it’s honestly satisfying when he gets beaten up by bullies. Surprising that these two hooligans manage to stay thin with all their freedom, it just boils down to the reality that the goal of these filmmakers is not about protecting Philadelphia, it’s about encouraging kids to misbehave while bodybuilding in a bold, classic costume. If we put ourselves in Billy’s place, and were forced to pick between stopping a bank robbery and a chocolate cake, of course the studio would send mind tricks compelling you to lean toward the bad decision.
The DCEU can try, but it will never top Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; the two standards fans hold to what a comic book movie can be. It’s not about the cool suit, it’s about allowing the viewer to think for him/herself about what tactics will truly redeem the city. Although Nolan’s and Sony’s respective versions of the classic vigilantes are certainly flawed, they hold a grail of genuine perfection compared to this electric lightning-bearing assassin.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Kedia, Megha. “Shazam!: Zachary Levi Suggested Fortnite Floss Dance Idea To Director David F. Sandberg.” Digital image. Pursue News. LOUDDD, 5 Dec 2018. Web. <https://pursuenews.com/shazam-zachary-levi-suggested-fortnite-floss-dance-idea-to-director-david-f-sandberg/>.
Shazam! Warner Bros. Ent. Web. <https://www.shazammovie.com/>.