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Review: & # 39; Shazam & # 39; – Thunder And Lightness, just a bit of triteness: NPR

Don't be light … ness: Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) and … well, he goes by many names, long story (Zachary Levi) forgets their problems, come and have fun in Shazam !

Warner Bros. Pictures

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Warner Bros. Pictures

Don't be light … ness: Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) and … well, he goes by many names, long story (Zachary Levi) forgets their problems, come and be fun in Shazam !

Warner Bros. Pictures

The cultural narrative that is built around movies starring in DC Comics super the past decade or so sounds like this: DC movies are too dark and dour, and the company must take a cue from Marvel, whose films always make room for The fun and capricious elements so crucial to the superhero genre.

It's a rough oversimplification, but there's not denied the kryptonite-hard nugget of truth there: Years ago, Warners / DC leaders saw the rapid success of Christopher Nolan's darkness and dour The Dark Knight the trilogy, and concluded that they had blown up how to approach the superhero genre, once and for all.

But they had coincided "once" with "for all." Of course, what they had instead cracked was how to approach a special superhero – a dark and dour one. It was a lack of insight into failing a large forest that was running a green and varied biodiversity into a lonely, particularly eerie and gothic-looking arrow.

Different heroes come not only factory-installed with different sets of powers and color-blocking, but with different prospects, motivations, goals and fears. For films that they have to work, these characters must be contacted in the special narrative mode and tonal selection that best matches them. Spider-Man is not Thor, Thor is not Iron Man. Knowing this really by knowing this provides effective characterization, and effective characterization means that these characters can be confused with each other – defining the contours of their hard edges by basing them into each other over and over again, as in movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and especially Thor: Ragnarok, a movie that worked best when it pleasantly and repeatedly undermined the pregnant Asgardic pomp position as its audience has grown to know and love its hero.

But for DC / Warners came superhero capes -size-fits-all: They followed up with Dark Knight films with the corresponding gloomy, down-colored Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a film attempting to draw its two protagonists in a conflict that did not made sense because there was not so little daylight between their respective characterizations. Wonder Woman represented a welcome and determined step forward, Justice League an Olympic level long shot back and suicide pests … was also a movie that was on one or otherwise made and published.

It would be easy to say that the latest DC superhero excursion, Shazam !, Represents DC / Warners finally learning to turn, how to get to a given hero in the state that best suits them . It is certainly true that the movie is full of thrills with stupid gags and clever flashes, and that the movie's resident good guy (his name is "Shazam!" In the credits, but in the reality of the film, it is more an open question mark) is a puffed-up, square-jawed galoot in a tomato red getup game by Zachary Levi. But it also often stops dead in their tracks for the duty to pay attention to the more familiar, even genre industry.

The funny pieces – the way it transforms the usually short "superhero training assembly" sequence into an extended and rewarding race gag, for example – is so fun and fresh and refreshing, they can & # 39; However, I help to throw history's dull, re-dictated passages into sharper relief. Shazam ! starting with an expanded flashback that turns out to be our crook (Mark Strong) origins story, sets him up with a key characterizing detail that will pay off nicely in the third action (the movie gets better and more joyful as it goes , unusually enough). However, there is much of this background that you will feel every minute of the movie's two-hour and twelve-minute playtime.

(Compare with last year's Aquaman an even longer DC superhero film that also came with lots of cheerful goony elements like a percussionist squid and a cracker with Mary Freaking Poppins intermediate vote – but that the film knew to claim its genre beats (hero motivation, love story) so quickly, easily and perfectly, they appeared purely water-soluble.)

As a young Billy Batson, who is overwhelmed by the ability to To transform into a crimson-longjohnned supermaster, Asher Angel is discreet and naturalistic. As Billy's velvety best friend, Freddy Freeman, Jack Dylan Grazer becomes a standout, eccentric, nicely calibrated performance – one that tiptoes to the edge of annoying and constantly threatening to tumble over to the two school of plays known as Live Action-Disney-Cannel-Weird-Kid, without doing it.

Levi is a charming actor and he enters the title role and into the muscle cloth that comes with it. He plays the adult-super-sleep-Billy with wide, goggle-eyed gusto, who doesn't really jibe with England's performance in any way you can point to – but it doesn't matter much because he's such a goony,

Shazam! is not enough to destroy the "dark film of dark films, Marvel movies fun" story of itself, especially with another Suicide Squad movie threatening, not to mention a capital-D-dark Joaquin Phoenix Joker headed to theaters in the fall. (And keep in mind that the remaining Avengers are currently cycling through the Cuber-Ross & # 39; stages of grief on cosmic scale, necessitating a hard look at our current collective criteria of "fun".)

But What This Movie makes still, to a happy and colorful conclusion – a super hero vs. supervillain battle-royale, convincing, easy to follow, often fun and decisively satisfactory.

It is an end that carries its heart on its sleeve, and it makes history's subtitle – wishful fulfillment, which is the subtitle of all superhero stories – so explicitly and explicitly text. A lonely kid finds a magic word that turns him into a master, and also for nothing, he finds a family. The pure and simple imaginative power thereof.

It's the superhero's sophistication for its thematic essence: so clean, so clear and – happy! Most importantly! unabashedly – so, saw goofy.

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