movies on airplanes

August 29, 2019

I’m really liking this thing where every seat gets their own screen and you have hundreds of choices of what to watch, classics as well as newer stuff. The film library this trip included Casablanca! Even with all that, I only watched two films on airplanes the entire trip. One was a rewatch of Tangled because I needed warm fuzzies.

The other was Shazam!

This film looked ridiculous when the trailers ran. Then the reviews for it were pretty universally positive. So I finally gave it a whirl for myself.

This is great. Just great.

First off, it does that thing that the Marvel films do so well, which is you take a superhero movie skin and pull it over the structural frame of a different kind of story — political thriller, heist comedy, space opera, whatever. In this case, it’s kid fantasy. You know what I’m talking about, where a troubled kid gets access to some kind of fantasy portal/power/creature and then makes mistakes in the course of learning how to handle that responsibility and make his life better? It’s that. With superheroes.

It’s also a bit of a deconstruction of superheroes, but from a kid perspective. Like, these kids live in the DC universe, that’s made clear. (Collectibles? A fully authenticated smashed bullet that bounced off Superman’s own chest? OMG I wish I had thought of that.) So they live in a superhero universe and they’ve been thinking about what that means and they talk about it. It isn’t cynical and dark — it’s very practical. Like why wouldn’t you go to a real estate agent to try to find a superhero lair?

The actor playing Billy Batson, Asher Angel, which sounds like a superhero secret identity name now that I think about it, is really good, clear-eyed and earnest and troubled and all-in.

There’s an absolutely devastating character moment at the end of the second act that has nothing to do with superheroes and superpowers. But the moment completes Billy’s arc and makes the rest of the story possible. Everything is set up. And then there’s the rest of the kids he builds a family with —

But I say too much. And the post-credits scenes, oh my gosh…

I will say I’m getting really, really tired of the trope where a movie starts with a family in the car and the kid in the backseat and the car gets in a horrific wreck to set up a tragic backstory. There’s a mild twist this time. But still.

But yeah. Overall I liked this a lot. I’m now thinking that if the DC movies had started with this instead of rehashing Superman and Batman — going with second-string characters the way Marvel did — we’d have gotten a very different set of movies over the last few years.


One Response to “movies on airplanes”

  1. Dennis O'Brien Says:

    The trailers for Shazam! were terrible – I had no urge to see it until some of my Pathfinder players nabbed my wife and I and DRAGGED us to see it.

    And then the movie was… pretty darned good!

    The fact that one of the Warner execs apologized for the trailers helped too.

    It was almost as if somebody at Warner was trying to kill the thing.

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