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Review Shazam! (2019)

“SHAZAM!” (2019)
By David F. Sandberg | USA
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Yet another completely different looking film than their previous entry, “Shazam!” shows the direction DC is wisely bringing into their cinematic universe. To combat the repetitive and safe approach Marvel has seemingly fallen into with their latest film (we’ll see if that changes with Endgame), DC decided to went the opposite way and to churn out the most outlandish and ludicrous ideas they can gut out of their decades long of comic book stories. We first felt this change with last year’s “Aquaman”, a film bursting with energy that were lost god knows where during the shaky start of the DCEU. With that film’s release the company promises us more, bold and genre centric films. “Shazam!” is the first we got from that promise. And to put it simply, it does deliver in terms of breaking the mold. Yet it also unfortunately (at least to me) fell a bit shorter than what people’s been hyping for.
It baffles me so to see how people finds this to be refreshing, witty, or innovative. With an absolutely cliched plot and message along with it, also not that interesting visual not stylistic quality, “Shazam!” is I’m afraid, underwhelming and, dare I say, cheap at times. Though its admirable how it kept the promise of doing things differently, it kept failing at standing out from other films of the genre that has done it better. We’ve seen already films that humanizes superheroes; films that deconstruct comic book adaptations; and films with the good ol’ message that tells our protagonist “you already have a family better than your real one”. These all adds up into a broken record of a film. And although it certainly is not a generic pop album record — its more of an underground alternative rock — it still is broken. Which ultimately cuts short the innovative promise it brought.
I think one of the problems I had personally is that the film completely missed the mark on giving its best qualities to me. The biggest praises for “Shazam!” would probably be how entertaining it was, both thanks to its comedy and endearing characters. But I sadly found both to be annoying. The humor, which sounds more like it came out of a 12 year old mouth than a 14 year old one, is beaten to death. It’s funny I guess, for the first fifteen minutes until it became too loud for its own good. And the characters, my god, were they annoying! And I know that’s the point because that’s the arc of the story. But how Billy (the supposed hero) starts of with almost zero redeeming qualities really makes it difficult to click with him immediately. And after a while resonating with him becomes tiring and I was tempted to just root for the way more entertaining screen presence that is Mark Strong’s Dr. Sivana.
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“Shazam!” is a different superhero story for sure but it’s also an underwhelming one. But in this day and age where comic book films feels as industrialized as a fast food burger, an averagely cook home made one just feels all the more rewarding than the usual forte. If this is what DC is going to do in the following years, I predict many would jump the ship from the ever homogeneous factory line of the MCU.
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