Yes. This is one of those posts where I confess my love for a film. This time, it is Shazam! Oh Boy! What a movie going experience this was. I remember chuckling and laughing out loud as Billy and Freddy visit a real estate agent to get a lair. That scene had some of the smartest and wittiest writing I have seen in a superhero movie. Lets get to the topic now.
Billy Batson is not the ideal good guy. He is consistently searching for his mother from whom he was torn away when he was a child. He is not a guy who deserves to be a superhero.
Now, let us look at the bad guy. An old wizard pulled young Sivana to a fantasy for few moments world and told him he wasn’t worthy. Just give it a thought, how does telling a child that he is not worthy impacts him? How badly would that affect anyone telling them they are not worthy of it? This is where Shazam! stands out. It gives a personality to its villain. Properly establishes him and justifies his thirst for power and approval from his father. It is Sad he turned out to be the bad guy. We rarely get a superhero movie where the film starts off with the villain’s backstory. This is just one thing I loved about Shazam! and this not my favorite thing. I have a lot more!
The best part about Shazam! is that it doesn’t try too hard. I love it when movies are self-aware of it and stick to their point without trying to go overboard and blow it out of proportion. Shazam! clearly knows what it wants to be. It doesn’t want to be a visual spectacle nor it tries to be a larger-than-life superhero extravaganza. It doesn’t seduce you to look at its VFX either. Its a simple, silly, sweet, warm little film about this kid who gets superpowers by chance. And in the process of not falling for all the above-mentioned cliches, it turns out to be a better one than what it set out to be adding a little charm of everything.
At times of ‘make it bigger’, Shazam! chooses to be small but has a heart bigger than all the superhero films in a really long time. Victor Vasquez is the warmest human I’ve seen on the big screen in a very long time. Freddy is the most humble friend I wish we all had in our lives. And there is a scene that comes amidst of the end battle where the ‘Big Billy’ hands over a tiger doll to a little girl. This is in reference to the scene to the when little Billy asks his mother he wants the tiger doll at a shooting game in a carnival and his mother couldn’t give him that. Call it melodrama, I call it heart. These little glimpses of soul make Shazam brilliant.
The humor is my favorite thing in Shazam! It is on point. I don’t think I can explain how funny the film is with my mediocre writing, but let me give it a try. There comes a scene in a supermarket right after our protagonist Billy gets his powers. He is soo childish that the first thing he wants to make use out of his new found identity is to try alcohol! After a hilarious follow up of events that also make Billy get to know he is bullet-proof, he and Freddy try beer. The reaction is priceless. They spit it out of their mouths saying it tastes like actual vomit and exchange it for Chips! Classis kids move. And there are countless moments as such. Billy is not the typical good guy, he became the ‘chosen one’ because there was no other way and the real Shazam had to rush things up.
I’m yet to figure out how to feel regarding the whole ‘mother’ episode, maybe I can get a better clarity after another viewing but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t see it yet.
Having not known much about the source material except the trailers for the movie, I expected it to be a happy & silly comedy but was surprised with its visual potential. But it doesn’t rely on any of those and love it when a movie does that. I does give me a kick when a movie puts its story and characters on the frontline instead of the visual aspects which of late, has become a mandatory spice in blockbuster filmmaking. Shazam! says “No” to those with a smile, despite having the privilage to add all the blockbuster toppings. That’s what made me love Shazam! Can’t wait to watch it again.
At times when movies tend to take them too seriously, Shazam aka Captain Sparkle Fingers was a breath of fresh air with its childlike charm. Wish we get to see more movies like this one. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend you give it a try, it’s not something we get to witness often on the big screen. And yes, I’m damn sure Shazam! is going to be one of my favorite movies of this year.