Shazam! (2019) Review

I am not a huge fan of live action superhero movies, but I love them in comics and animation. That said, I really wanted to like this movie. Who doesn’t want to see Captain Marvel in action! Unfortunately, this movie leaves a lot to be desired. This movie follows a foster kid Billy Batson who receives powers from an old order of wizards to protect the world form antient evil. If it already sounds generic, that is because it is incredibly so. It is a troubled hero who is searching for his mother so that he can feel complete, only to have this search complicated by this new condition.

What I thought the movie did well was how Billy initially reacts to his newfound powers. Suddenly, he has the powers to be an adult and he takes full advantage, engaging in adult activities teenage boys fantasize on. He buys beer for he and his friend, he goes to a strip club, and he excuses himself from school. It neat to see that he isn’t a completely good hero because his main interests aren’t to be traditional hero, but to use this power for personal gain. But this novelty quickly dissolves under the same tired formula we see in all origin stories. I for one am tired of watching training montages. It was good in Rocky and it worked in Spiderman but at this point, it just feels like padding for a movie that barely has a story. This montage isn’t anything new, it is the same jokes you see in every other movie where you see Billy fail over and over until he has some small form of mastery. If you are still watching the movie at this point, it doesn’t get any better.

What you get after is an uninspired forgettable villain that he must defeat. And he is forgettable. When he shows up for the big fight, I had honestly forgotten he was part of the movie because there is nothing interesting. You get a bit of backstory, but not enough to set him aside as this menace. There is no pressure for him to become stronger like there is in other movies of the genre because the villain is mostly absent from the movie, save for the times he is sprinkled in to remind the audience. Early on you get the feeling that there aren’t any real consequences, even though people do die in this movie it doesn’t matter because you can probably guess that Captain Marvel will win through the power of friendship. It literally tells you minutes into the movie, and as generic as this movie is, you should not be surprised. It is apparent that this movie was just a cheap attempt to cash in on the super hero craze and it is a shame because I have seen DC movies where they are able to tell a compelling story without reverting to the same old tropes.

Because there is no story, this movie lacks the character development to make even Captain marvel forgettable. The movie will flat out tell you important character traits, it’s an incredibly lazy way to fake a story. For example, there is a scene after the training montage where Billy sneaks back into the foster home his foster parents are disappointed that he ran away after the first night. He conveniently walks in at the end of this conversation and somehow understands the trouble he is causing. This is shown through a zoom cut to a remorseful Billy. There are no scenes where they spend time together, breaking down the metaphoric walls he’s built to protect his heart. There are no heart-warming scenes that suggest that maybe this collection of misfits could be his family. Instead you get a kid playing with his superpowers for a day and the movie telling you that Billy is experience character growth because it is written in the script. I wouldn’t have an issue with this if the movie hadn’t put so much emphasis on it’s importance. In the end when things seem the darkest, it is the love for his newfound family that gives him the power to persevere. See, it’s the same thing you’ve seen over and over again but not very well done.

I wouldn’t pay for this movie. If you were unfortunate to pay for it, I am sorry you got ripped off. I wouldn’t even recommend this film if it were free because there is nothing really worth watching. It is a shame because I do prefer the DC universe, but it seems that they aren’t able to get their formula correct. Oh well, skip it.

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