Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Movie Review: Shazam (2019)

Quick review: I liked it. Lots of fun. Four and a half Starfish

***Spoilers ahead. You've been warned.***

I admit I've never been a huge Captain Marvel fan. And by "Captain Marvel", I'm referring to the real name of Shazam. I gather it's not acceptable to refer to him that way any more because of the whole intellectual property rights thing... but if you look at the character's history, it's been nothing BUT intellectual property rights messes.

Anyway, this movie decided to have fun with the name, since he can't use his actual name anymore. And he can't say his Wizard name without changing. So instead, the character was given new names constantly throughout, which was a lot of fun at times. Although it did begin to get old toward the end of the movie.

Ah, and there's my one criticism of the movie. At a running time of 132 minutes, some of the jokes began to get stale before the end. Yes, we get it. He's a teenage boy in a man's body. You don't have to dwell on it quite that much. Fortunately, the movie didn't let it get too stale, and there were enough other jokes to almost completely make up for the stale ones. I didn't end up rolling my eyes too much.

So, with that criticism out of the way, how did I like it? I enjoyed it a lot. I'm glad I didn't see it in a theater, as I needed a break roughly halfway through, but that's a complaint about the current length of movies, and not this one in particular. With the opportunity to take a break, the movie worked perfectly for me.

When I first heard about Zachary Levi as the main character, I was... um, let's say "skeptical". There's a part of me that didn't find him quite right for the role, but it's a big multiverse and I'm willing to accept that in one of them Captain Marvel looks like this and not... what he looks like in the comics. Other than the look, I think Levi was perfection in the role. The sense of wonder of a child experiencing true power for the first time came across very nicely.

The plot was solid, with much of the movie focusing on Billy learning about his abilities and what it means to have powers. The introduction of Sivana was nice (does John Glover only play bad dads in DC properties?) and his development was sketched out brilliantly in only a few scenes. He didn't have to chew any scenery for his character to work, which is slightly ironic because his character in the comic books is nothing BUT a scenery-chewer.

I haven't been following recent Shazam too closely in comics, but I knew about his "family" of fellow orphans. And I've seen at least one comic where they all got powers. So that bit didn't surprise me much... but it was a heckuva lot of a fun. I also liked the inclusion of the tiger. Anyone who knows the comic knows why that's important.

The Easter Eggs in this movie jumped out at me. I guess I know enough about the character to be tickled by such gems as the name of Billy's father and Darla's last name. The mid-credit sequence was clearly going to happen based on what we saw of that particular character on the Rock of Eternity. Amazing how two shots of a glass terrarium can foretell a potential plot point so perfectly.

While a sequel cannot capture the same magic as this one managed, I hope it manages it's own level of magic. With Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam all turning out to be excellent films, I do hope the DC Movie Universe can manage to maintain the altitude.