Big, But Superheroes
It’ll be difficult for me to ever look at the DCEU without immediately thinking they’re trying to either match or one-up Marvel. I feel like Marvel is in their own little world, and DCEU is constantly in a one-sided competition that they may never truly get out of, but once in a while, I appreciate the directions they take. While Suicide Squad seems to be their response to Guardians of the Galaxy, Shazam! seems to be, maybe a response to Ant-Man due to the bizarre, mostly unknown character, as well as the comedic childish humor. I also scored the movie exactly the same as Ant-Man in the end, but that’s more of a coincidence.
What is Shazam!? This film focuses on a child superhero who, when he utters the name “Shazam”, is transformed into an adult superhero, so in essence, this is a coming-of-age film. A majority of what this movie is about is self-discovery, and finding out what that means for the character. Self-discovery in defining what powers he has, but also self-discovery in defining what it means to be an orphan, always holding onto the past, limiting his potential for the future. The superhero persona acts as more of a metaphor for his personal journey of self-acceptance.
As with most coming-of-age films, I have an issue with the lack of story goals. Finding oneself is fine, but there’s hardly ever really any plan of action on how he’ll get there. There’s just the “in general” standpoint, and when that’s in effect, the movie can go in any direction, since nothing is really that specific. In other words, I’m talking about the narrative, which really truly depends on who you are, but I see it as the glue for which direction the film takes.
Now, I love Zachary Levi. His role in this film makes a lot of sense, since he plays off the young-at-heart role really, really well. We’ve seen him do it in Chuck first, and he does a lot of the same things here, as well. If anyone were to play a kid in an adult’s body, he would be one of my first picks. That being said, there was something off in the way the kid actor portrayed the character and how Zachary Levi portrayed the same character. The kid was much more grounded, much more mature, and certainly not as goofy as Levi was – and it wasn’t the look that took me out of it, like I thought it was going to be, it was the disbelief that this was supposed to be the same character. Then again, I often felt the same when it came down to Tom Hanks in a very similar concept film – Big.
It’s certainly not a terrible movie, though. I had a lot of fun with it. In a sharp contrast to the often dark themes of the other films in the DCEU, there is something awfully welcome about the light tones brought by Levi and the film in general. I don’t think it really feels like it’s truly a part of the universe, other than some random mentions of other heroes in the universe, though. At the end of the day, I think it’s the coming-of-age theme that blocked its ultimate potential into being scored higher. So, just like Ant-Man, I do have this scored as the worst DCEU film (technically speaking), and it has the same score, as well
TOTAL SCORE – 72%
People Score: 12/20
Acting – 2/4 | Characters – 3/4 | Casting – 2/4 | Importance – 2/4 | Chemistry – 3/4
Writing Score: 7/10
Dialogue – 1/2 | Balance – 1/2 | Story Depth – 2/2 | Originality – 1/2 | Interesting – 2/2
BTS Score: 7/10
Visuals – 1/2 | Cinematography – 1/2 | Editing – 2/2 | Advertising – 2/2 | Music & Sound – 1/2
Narrative Arc: 9/10
Introduction – 2/2 | Inciting Incident – 2/2 | Obstacles – 1/2 | Climax – 2/2 | Resolution – 2/2
Rewatchability – 2/2 | Fun Experience – 2/2 | Impulse to Buy – 2/2 | Impulse to Talk about or Recommend – 1/2 | Engaging & Riveting – 1/2
Zachary Levi – 10/10 | DCEU – 5/10 | Superheroes – 5/10 | Halfway Decent – 10/10