Movie Review: Shazam! (2019)

screencap-from-shazam-trailer

Summary: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.
Full disclosure. This is the only “DCEU” movie I have whole heartedly enjoyed. This is the only one I have to say I enjoyed from start to finish.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as William “Billy” Batson / Shazam. So, this character is played by two people obviously. Billy is a troubled orphaned boy who is searching for his mother. As a child, he was lost at a fair and has searched for his mother ever since. He has a hard time fitting in with his foster families (even if they do want him) because he’s so hell bent on finding his birth mother that this current family really wants to make things work with him. When he meets the new family, he still has a hard time connecting to the kids because he’s so ready to leave. However, Billy isn’t mean though. I mean, he’s hard to connect to and he does do some mean things, but he isn’t like spiteful. He’s sad and really wants to find where he belongs. I quite liked Asher Angel. I’ve never seen him in anything, but he handles that one particular emotional moment really well, I really felt for him. I also think he has good comedic timing when he needed to have it and I wish we got to see more of him, but I guess people go for Shazam! As for Levi who is Shazam, he is basically Billy just physically an adult. He has the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles and the Speed of Mercury. He learns these powers along the way but also, he’s a 14-year-old so he’s having fun. I like Zachary Levi, he has a nice charm to him that makes him fun to watch. He isn’t who I would have pictured when I thought of Shazam but he’s clearly having fun and he does a good job. My only problem is I think Asher Angel kind of has this coolness to him and Zachary Levi, as his adult version, didn’t have that same coolness. Otherwise, I believed they were the same person.
  • Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. He is a physicist who is pretty much the black sheep of his family. His dad is played by Lionel Luther from Smallville! lol, Thad was a kid, he was summoned by the Wizard Shazam but was not chosen so he has dedicated his life to finding out a way to get back there. He’s obsessive and clearly won’t stop at anything to get what he wants. When he does get the powers he gets, he uses them for his goals, which was mostly to get back at his family. Later, he decides he also wants the Champion’s powers, so he goes after Shazam. I mean, Mark Strong is a good actor and Sivana is an interesting character, but I didn’t really care that much about him to see what kind of trouble he might cause. I mostly just loved him physically fighting Shazam. Mark Strong is always imposing though.
  • Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman. Freddy is the first person in the new foster family that Billy connects to. He is disabled but he does his own thing because he doesn’t care. He’s a superhero enthusiast and of course becomes the only person who knows about Shazam. It’s his idea to test out what his powers are, among other things. Freddy is likable, but I think that has a lot to do with Jack Dylan Grazer who is very likable himself. He just truly enjoys life and it’s great to have a character, with his circumstances who is like that without feeling forced or annoying.
The Foster Family. So, the foster family that Billy is “adopted” into has a lot of people floating around. They’re all likable and I won’t go through them all, but I think it’s important to mention them.
  • Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley. Billy’s youngest foster sibling at his new home, an energetic and effusive little girl. She’s very sweet and just pure innocence. I’m so impressed at how much Faithe was close both physically and characteristically to the comic version of her.
  • Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield. Billy’s foster sister at his new home, the “den mother” who helps take care of the other kids and is debating attending college in California. Mary is the oldest, so she takes on the role of making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to and making sure they’re okay at school. She’s also very smart, so she’s thinking about what she might do for college. She’s likable and though her role isn’t large, she seems to be a protector and a kind of ‘go get ’em’ kind of girl.
  • Ian Chen as Eugene Choi. Billy’s foster brother at his new home, an obsessive gaming enthusiast and budding techie. He’s a smarty-pants, as there always needs to be one. We really don’t see a ton from him but he’s cute and likable and you get to know him enough.
  • Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña. Billy’s foster brother at his new home, a shy, sensitive kid who has trouble opening up. We don’t see a lot from him, but I like his willingness to help at the end.
  • Marta Milans as Rosa Vasquez and Cooper Andrews as Victor Vasquez. The foster mother and father of the group home where Billy and his friends live. He is a beautiful man lol. But anyways, they’re fine, they do what they’re supposed to, and they have great chemistry. They’re cute.
Superhero Aspect. I like that the powers of Shazam had to be given to someone who was worthy and while Billy may not be the perfect kid, he is a good kid and he has potential to be great. I liked that that was something that didn’t just happen to him, he was chosen, even if he wasn’t the first choice. That was pretty cool. Plus, he’s a kid who is magically aged up to an adult (I used to think that Shazam inhabited Billy Batson’s body and whenever he said his name, they like switched places, not that Shazam is the aged-up version of whoever has his power) but he’s still a kid. That’s a neat idea. Plus, going on the journey to find out what his powers are, it’s always fun to see a person discover their new abilities along the way. Plus, Billy learns a lot of lessons in there as well.
Awesome Action. The action, especially in the latter half of the film is handled so well. I like the choreography of the fights between Shazam and his villain. I also really liked how Billy was quick enough on his feet to understand how he could use his powers to an even bigger use. Like when he gets smart and “SHAZAM” to evade the fight for a moment, or to make the villain lose him in the crowd. I thought that was handled well. Also, the big battle at the end, was fun. Good job movie.
Fun, Energetic and Hilarious. I didn’t expect much but I laughed quite a bit throughout the movie. It has a light nature to it even with its darker elements. It doesn’t try too hard, it just is. Jack Dylan Grazer and Zachary Levi, and by extension Asher Angel have good chemistry and whenever they’re on screen together, it really builds like a friendship into perhaps a brotherhood. There are some pop culture references, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with the jokes nor does it feel forced. It’s also just a lighthearted movie so it doesn’t feel like a long slog.
Nice Story. In the end, this movie is about family and being true to who you are. Billy’s entire journey is him discovering himself and just how important family is but it’s not always going to be the family you expect. It’s a sweet message and it also makes Billy relatable because sometimes you find family in the places you expected the least. Not to mention, it’s all about who you are on the inside. That is what allows Billy to be chosen and become Shazam and realize his fully powers.
Cons:
Pacing Issues. I think the pacing of the movie is inconsistent. There are some slow moments, or moments where the movie slows down to the point where it begins to feel too long. I think the climax at the end, while cool, took too long to happen.
The Designs of the Deadly Sins. In the comics, these characters have a look that makes them stand out from each other. In the film, they’re all rock creatures and while they seem to have their own design, we never know which sin they are. I guessed throughout the film who might be. Gluttony at least had an obvious design. He looked like Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist. I also know Envy because he was the smallest, other than that, no idea. I just wish they had more of a unique look to them. Plus, they reminded me of the rock generals from TMNT.
Freddy and Billy’s Argument. So, they have an argument about midpoint through the movie, while Billy is full Shazam. People record it, but I thought it was a little left field. I mean, Freddy knows the secret and they’ve been training for a good amount of the movie to test his powers, but then Freddy says something at school that Billy does not agree too but I guess he decided he would do it anyway but Billy forgets about it and Freddy is all upset because Billy didn’t do the thing that Billy never said he would do anyway. So, Freddy calls him out on the things THEY WERE DOING TOGETHER! If anything, I believe what Freddy was accusing Billy of doing was Freddy’s idea first and Billy just went along with it and furthered it. So, I thought, while this argument served its purpose, it came out of nowhere to me. Like Freddy, you aren’t a victim here.
One Dimensional Villain. So, spoiler alert but Mark Strong plays the villain in this movie. I mean, he always does lol, I was surprised when his character in Kingsman was a good guy and remained so lol. Anyways, while I think Mark Strong is a good actor and he looks like his comic book counterpart (from the New 52 anyway), his character left a lot to be desired. I did not care about what he wanted to do at all. I didn’t think he was that much of a threat. After he did what he’s wanted to do for years, his story was really kind of over. They combined his plot in the comics with Black Adam from the first Shazam! (New 52). I don’t mind that, but I just think he was very cookie cutter and I feel like he could have been more sinister than he was. He looked cool but that was about it for me.
Overall, I really liked this movie A LOT. Like I said, this is the only DCEU (is that still a thing these days?) film that I have liked from beginning to end. The main characters are all interesting and I really liked the chemistry between Billy (Both versions) and Freddy. I thought Asher Angel had a coolness about him while also maintaining a kind of tragic feeling considering his background. Zachary Levi, I felt was a little different than Asher Angel, like he had way more childlike glee than Asher did. The superhero aspect was fun in how it was handled and how Billy and Freddy worked it out together. It was fun and energetic, and quite funny. The action is also handled well. I was into it. The story is also nice and has a sweet and relatable message. Now, for a few of the cons, I think the villain was one dimensional even though he was imposing physically, I don’t think he was that interesting once he completes one of his ultimate goals. The is a bit of a pacing issue and I didn’t care for the Seven Sins’ design nor did I think the argument between Freddy and Billy that prompts a lot of the third act was founded. BUT Shazam! is a great movie and I think everyone should give it a chance.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Shazam! What did you think about it? Tell me your thoughts down below!
What is your favorite DC movie overall?
Thanks for reading!
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