Movie reviews by
3 (out of 4)
Where did DC's swift turnaround come from? After Wonder Woman broke the shite streak in 2017, Justice League arrived just in time to remind us why Snyder’s apocalyptic visions could only hypothetically operate in an era free of self-awareness and irony. Aquaman was recently a dynamically divisive change of pace and the global response has been resoundingly celebratory. The muted anticipation for Shazam!, the most prudent installment of the Extended Universe by far, suggested the movie would be worth a chuckle during the trailer. Instead Director David F. Sandberg proved although the superhero origin story is an exhausted template, with a heartfelt approach it remains a specifically sturdy framework for a resilient kind of moviegoing bliss.
A winning cast (young Jack Dylan Grazer is the highlight) brings out the best of an enchanting screenplay that levels out savvy, family friendly humor with situations of wickedness more in line with '80s movies and dark bedtime stories. As much as it plays to a general audience (even though it shares several traits with Deadpool) Shazam! emanates a classic sort of simplicity and understated idealism. After Aquaman successfully dropped the idea of crossover interconnection, Shazam! continues to show the essentials to caring for characters from scratch. You don’t need trilogies and team ups to develop a handful of well-acted personalities – even our generic villain (Mark Strong in his moody mode) has a slyly sympathetic origin.
The movie is a restrained rarity, an unanticipated, unfettered pleasure within a genre so bloated and saturated it could use hours of liposuction. Obviously Shazam! works with a narrative a child could understand but this universality is indicative of sentimental honesty, sharp, clean humor and occasionally profound realism. Orphanhood, estrangement, identity crisis – the film's emotional earnestness overcomes any lack of the expensive spectacle and headlong pacing we’ve been progressively attuned to expect. Shazam!'s whimsically meta delights are enough because the film resists easy, derisive smugness. Did I mention Zachary Levi is an absolute treasure?
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
The Rise of Skywalker
A Hidden Life
"So what've you been up to?"
"Escaping mostly... and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice