The texture of a movie like “Shazam” is to find the balance of tone that creates an interesting diametric and dynamic. Overall in actuality, the movie is a mixed bag with enough energy and might to make it entertaining but with not enough originality to make it transformative. There is a no awesome “ah-ha” moment and, in many points, it devolves into simple fanboy structure without a necessity for logic. Now granted when these are functioning as montages with 80s songs, it can connect. But in comparison to say “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, there is no heart. The intention at the focus of the story about family should feel more connected and meaningingful. The director and star Zachary Levi are certainly trying but you almost see too much of their effort on screen which means it wasn’t inherently natural. Levi is very earnest…maybe too much so though he does convey the awkwardness of Billy Batson very well. The construct of the conflict itself is basic…and perhaps it needs to be but that doesn’t change the fact that it feels at many points unfulfilling.
The actual introduction to the movie which introduces another character has much more breathe of thought but that too is wasted in that character’s development. Mark Strong’s role as an adversary comes off as hollow. It could have been a deep seated regret and texture of family that really would have given the film more texture. Many aspects in this regard seem unfinished. “Shazam” is not a bad film…it just seems very incomplete. And again the aspect of heart and tone within DC, even the standalone films which worked to a good degree in “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” doesn’t connect here. Sometimes, the film goes very dark in places without that balance…and, as a result, feels empty. Even the final sequences which should reflect a culmination seems almost haphazard. But as a takeback, it is great to see a superhero movie like this made since “Shazam” is the most likable superhero at times but seeing these flaws on screen instead of that perfect role model shows that we are all fallible.
By Tim Wassberg
With the new “Shazam” movie with Zachary Levi in post production, this story (or retelling as it were) comes at a very specific time. Now The Rock has always been floated as the idea of Black Adam as well. Those stories blend into the fabric of “Shazam Vol. 1 (The New 52)” [Geoff Johns/DC/192pgs] with the texture of Billy Brayson who inherits the mantle of Shazam. Granted this might just be another iteration of the story but with Johns having been the head of DC’s film division up until recently and the fact that the convenience store scene looking pretty close in the trailer to some of the art here, there might be some comparisons. Returning to brass tacks, the essence of the story is about lost family and finding those that connect. Billy is a foster child who never wants to depend on anyone but doesn’t want to trust in anyone because he knows that he will be let down. However, despite his immaturity there is a texture of wanting to be a protector. So when a wizard summons him (perhaps by mistake) but also when Black Adam is set loose, a domino effect of actions goes into motion. Billy reacts as most kids would but it is the interaction of his new foster family (specifically the kids) that makes it work. The conclusion when it all comes together has the feeling of a “Goonies” or “Explorers” visually and tonally if it was done right. But these transformations as well as the essence of the Seven Sins have a big build up but not the payoff they should have. The resolution is clean but slightly muddled in what it could have been. Black Adam’s perceptions are what does him in but there are those looking for magic who are still rising against Shazam. The fun of the art is reflected in the kids and especially Billy/Shazam’s disbelief at the fact that he is strong, adult and a superhero. Sometimes it only takes that confidence to find the balance.
By Tim Wassberg