Out of the many movies I have seen in theaters this year, “Shazam!” has been the most surprising. Now that “Shazam!” has come out on DVD, I think it’s finally time for me to make a case why you should watch this movie.
I went in expecting another DC flop. Based on their track record, the best I could hope for was to be mildly entertained by a mediocre slop of CGI and jokes, as with “Aquaman.”
The positive astonishment I felt watching “Wonder Woman” was not nearly reached by other recent DC releases. In fact, “Wonder Woman” felt more like a 1 time fluke in DC’s history of poor filmmaking decisions.
“Shazam!”, however made me reconsider my admittedly, overly harsh view of DC movies. And as a big Marvel fan, believe me, it was not easy to put aside my loyalty and admit “Shazam!” was simply an enjoyable movie.
I was smiling practically the entire time. There was a joy to this movie I hadn’t felt in any recent superhero movie, Marvel or DC.
The story was less about some person striking gold with amazing powers against a tragic past and more so a celebration of discovering how to be a superhero.
In previous superhero movies, the heroism and ability to rebound after mistakes came naturally. In this movie, the audience could see themselves far more realistically.
It isn’t about circumstances that breed a superhero. It’s about a life set in the real world with real pain that somehow got set right, against all the odds.
You can’t go into this with the same sort of serious or critical mindset you might use for regular movies. Rather you have to take a leap of faith to suspend your disbelief and go along with the inherent cookiness because by the end, you will be glad you did.
The full impact of what this movie did hadn’t dawned on my until the very end. In those final moments, I realized how I felt I’d watched something completely new.
DC wasn’t trying to replicate Marvel’s classic swagger or breakneck pacing. Therefore, the audience gets the chance to experience a new kind of superhero origin story and that by itself makes the film worth watching, despite it’s other merits.
The optimism and overall wholesomeness promoted is definitely campy, but it also makes sense given the context.
My heart was melted, at first slowly, by jokes I actually found funny, and later on by a cliche story spun anew.
Perhaps what made this movie feel so fresh to me is as a result of how aware the characters were of the world around them. The inevitable destruction caused in battles had consequences and the sacrifices made when a superhero wasn’t on duty were explored.
Watching any sort of action movie nowadays leaves little impact in regards to those important aspects. We see explosions and maybe some people dying, but that doesn’t mean anything as long as the hero walks away virtually unharmed.
“Shazam!” used the ages and positions of the characters in a world already aware of superheroes to its advantage in finally providing the broader perspective, all too often missed.
In short, I was very lenient towards flaws in “Shazam!”, barely taking the time to acknowledge them. With this movie, they honestly didn’t matter to me. New ground was broken in what has unfortunately become an oversaturated, tired market, which deserves recognition. I believe with enough open mindedness, there is something here to make everyone feel happy.