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I wrote this review on Rotten Tomatoes before, but here it is again for TV Tropes.
SHAZAM! is easily DC Extended Universe's best movie yet, I love the idea of Tom Hanks' BIG being redone as a superhero movie - it was funny and heartwarming at the same time especially of a superhero adult and a teenage boy hanging out together, except Shazam isn't very bright (I mean intellectually, he's very bright in terms of light). Then whenever Shazam tries doing something heroic, he messes up doing even more damage than had he done nothing and so Freddie (who is about 20 years younger than his adult superhero body) keeps pointing it out. A kid having to parent an adult and tell him off for being naive, talk about irony. I thought it was clever the message the movie cranked out that superpowers doesn't bring as much as happiness to you as financial independence (Billy hates orphanages, he wants his own house) or the emotional affection that you receive from your mother and your friends. I mean the first thing that comes to Shazam's mind with superpowers is hacking ATMs and buying video games. Without the love of his own mother and the fact that his own best friend Freddy is starting to think he's an arrogant jerk who wants to show off his superpowers all the time, Billy / Shazam feels unhappy even with the incredible gifts he's received from the old wizard. Then it takes the arrival of the Bald Bad Guy that after a long and hard fight, he becomes more serious and more mature in his adult body and he finally does become an actual superhero who can put his powers to good use. All in all, great story of an adult superhero with the mind of a child caring more about video games and looking for his mother mentally grows to become more like an actual superhero and does develop an adult mind.
My only problem with the movie was that I think the final fight of the movie was less exciting than the entirety of the movie that came before it. We were introduced to ALL of the superpowers, superheroes and supervillains that nothing new or refreshing comes up in the finale where SHAZAM finally saves the day and defeats the Bald Bad Guy and the Seven Sin Demons. In fact, Shazam and Bald Bad Guy already had a long and rough fight around the middle of the movie which trashed the shopping mall (that's where Shazam stepped on the giant floor keyboard), I felt the final fight was just a rehash of the shopping mall fight only in the dark at nighttime and with Shazam being a lot more chatty and less scared this time.
Mr. Mind's sudden appearance helped trigger my memory of the Baron O' Beef Dip prank Eddy played on Ed back in Ed, Edd n' Eddy. Except Mr. Mind didn't tell Sivana to eat his mattress.
I liked this movie. I think. It's a little hard to say, because I certainly didn't enjoy going to see it. And I definitely don't like it's marketing. Which seems like a cop out, so let's explain what I mean.
If you read the tropes pages for this film, you'll see it's consistently described as lighter and fluffier than the other DC films. And the commercials make it seems light and goofy romp of a movie. Having seen the film, it has it's goofy moments. But lighter and fluffier is not the same as light and fluffy. Grey is lighter than black, but that doesn't make it white. You get a pretty good illustration of this when a guy gets thrown out of a window. Light and fluffy that moment was not.
However, thanks to a marketing campaign that made this film seem like the old Batman series, there was a kid sitting in front of me who was around five. A kid who was upset by the movie and whose parents apparently were unwilling to eat the cost of the movie tickets, because they handed him a cell phone and threw a coat over his head so no one would notice. We noticed.
It's hard to figure out how you feel about a movie when you spend most of it annoyed at the people in front of you. But it's also hard to figure out how to feel about a movie that can't seem to decide what it wants to be. Shazam! felt like two different movies. It is perhaps best summed up by the seen of the villain monologuing a serious and sinister threat suited to the overall tone of the DC movies, while Billy,too far away to hear, treats the audience to a joke.
Having seen this movie on opening weekend, I can say that it is a fantastic movie and honestly the best Superman movie in decades. There are a lot of great things about this movie like the humor that feels authentic, the villain who isn't a joke, and the foster family. However, I would say that this movie's true accomplishment is giving us a hero who can be petty and selfish yet ultimately all-loving and idealistic.
At a glance, Billy Batson seems a lot like Clark Kent in the DCEU. They are glum and aloof in their civilian guises and they end up causing property damage. Yet the main difference is that Billy's flaws make sense and he grows as a character. It makes sense that he starts out selfish and petty because he is a foster teen who doesn't have the experience or parental guidance to be a real hero. Yes, he abuses his powers, but he actually learns from his mistakes and grows into the selfless hero we all know in love. Most importantly, he learns to use his intelligence and becomes more altruistic to win the day, showing how much he has grown.
In the end, Shazam! is a terrific film that wins thanks to its character. This character manages to be both fallible yet admirable, juvenile yet mature, and dumb yet smart. If you want a modernized Superman who is both relatable and inspiring, here's your movie.
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