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Shazam! - Movie Review

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The DCEU, if it is even called that anymore, has been making significant strides with its output in the last couple of years—and amazingly WITHOUT its two heavy hitters. Wonder Woman and Aquaman have both made commercial and critical strides that the last few entries involving Superman and Batman didn’t.

There is still a lot unknown about where this shared universe of Warner’s heroes is headed. But little bit by little bit, we are seeing some fresh approaches to their collective canon in the films they’re releasing. Shazam! is their next offering.

I have only ever been myopically familiar with this character, despite his long, storied history in comics. Basically, I knew he was once called Captain Marvel and somewhere along the lines his catchphrase “Shazam” became his actual name instead of sharing the same title with Marvel’s hero. I knew he was a boy that became a superhero, and that he was part of the Justice League at various stages of his existence. That’s about it.

"This is a left of field entry into the once dark and gloomy DC Universe that works. It doesn’t tax your brain. It is packed with heart and laughs"

What I didn’t know was how sweet and compelling a hero he was, how endearing his back story is and how damn funny the premise of him could be.

Billy Batson is a fifteen year-old precocious foster kid, who has always kept his various foster-care workers and the cops on their toes. When he runs away for the umpteenth time in search of his natural mother again, he is placed with an eclectic bunch of kids and two kind guardians that quickly start to make their way into his heart. But Billy has been closed off all his life. He’s jaded and guarded and tried valiantly to keep everyone at bay. When mystical forces, both light and dark enter his life, the boy’s true heart is revealed and he is bestowed with great powers. The question then becomes what to do with them, and as he struggles with what is truly important, a powerful enemy rises to test his metal and reveal his true self.

That pitch sounds very dramatic, something the DCEU is renowned for, but this film is FUNNY. Really funny. Star Zachery Levy said some time ago that this would be BIG with superheroes, and for once that’s pretty much exactly what you get. The two main kids (Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer) playing Billy and Freddy are a standout. Their interplay is hysterical, with Grazer’s comedic timing a huge feather in the film’s cap. Levy as Shazam is the perfect man-child and conveys the innocence of a young teen effortlessly.

The script really has fun with the meta aspects of exploring superheroes and is laced with set pieces throughout that are both taking the piss and organically showing what kids or random people might do or say if these type of heroes ever existed.

Mark Strong has his second turn at a DC antagonist (after the Green Lantern bomb); this time playing Thaddeus Sivana, a bitter man who was rebuffed by the ancient Shazam and deemed unworthy when he was a boy. There is a scene where he goes for the generic bad guy monologue too far away from Shazam to be heard that encapsulates the tone of this film. Strong plays it straight and is wonderful as the film’s sour puss.

All the support cast is wonderful and add value and smiles in every scene.

The effects are as outlandish as the film’s plot and hero’s costume, but there are no sloppy CGI moments (*Superman’s moustache *cough) and they serve the story well.Shazam!

Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is a perfect marriage of heroics and off-kilter ham. Not an easy thing to pull off. There are also moments of levity and heart that are aided considerably by his work.

As stated earlier, there are dozens of theories and opinions about just what DC are doing now. After the failure of Justice League, and the upcoming slate of seemingly stand alone projects, we could have been forgiven for thinking that they’d given up on that idea. But there are clever and constant nods to the other heroes in this film that may be suggesting otherwise. They also have chosen to give little credit scenes that speak to possibilities, so make sure you stay on until the end of the credits.

This is a left of field entry into the once dark and gloomy DC Universe that works. It doesn’t tax your brain. It is packed with heart and laughs and is a great night out at the movies--definitely unique and worth watching.

4/5 stars


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material.
132 mins
: David F. Sandberg
Henry Gayden
Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong
: Action | Adventure
Every Hero Has A Secret.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Say my name so that my powers may flow through you."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 5, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).



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