Movie Review: Shazam! (2019)

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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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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

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Summary: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.
*There may be spoilers below if you haven’t seen any of the trailers or heard anything about this film.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Taron Egerton as Eggsy Unwin. Eggsy has come a long way from the young man we got to know in the first film. He is the current Galahad due to the tragedy of the first film, he’s acclimated to his new life as a Kingsman (as well as other things). He’s a gentlemen and he’s having to deal with other grownup choices and situations. It’s not like Eggsy wasn’t mature before he just had a lot more baggage then and now it’s like, he carries himself differently. It’s cool to see the change. But I thought he was a strong standout in the first film and I think he is again here, I actually think without him and without him knowing his character so well, it might not have been as good or fun. Taron Egerton is able to in this film to maintain Eggsy’s “gentlemen” side, his more “Eliza Doolittle” side and trying to live a new life. It’s all pretty interesting. I love him.
  • Julianne Moore as Poppy Adams. She is the leader of “The Golden Circle”, a secret organization and the head of a pharmaceutical company. She’s like a Susie Homemaker gone crazy in this film. Poppy has a plan to become a respected business woman in the eyes of the world, she’s been hiding out for so long that she misses being apart of the population. Julianne Moore is good, her delivery is very upbeat even when crazy things are happening and I thought Moore transcended her character because she was way better than what the material for her character was. I wish she had the chance to be more scary or more intimidating or something because I know she totally can be those things even with the type of character Poppy Adams is.
  • Pedro Pascal as Agent Whiskey. A Statesman secret agent. He is pretty cool, he is known for his lasso and electric lasso weapons as well as the cool gun twirling trick. He has a lot of great action scenes and he spends a lot of time working with Eggsy on this mission. He’s older so he kind of has a “wiser agent” mentality and that whole “I have more experience” etc. kind of thing but he trusts Eggsy which is also interesting. I’ve only seen Pedro Pascal in Game of Thrones so I wasn’t sure what to expect with him here but I liked him. I thought he was really cool and I couldn’t wait to see his stunts considering what I saw in the trailers.
  • Mark Strong as Merlin. He is tech support, also Eggsy’s trainer and sometimes he may be a field agent for Kingsman. Merlin is awesome. He always has something insightful to say, sometimes it’s funny and useful and other times it’s useful. He’s super smart and has taken on the role of “mentor” to Eggsy in Harry’s stead. Merlin is the one who goes with Eggsy to America to meet the Statesmen and he seems to create a bonding friendship with Ginger Ale over being the tech support. I was so sure that Mark Strong was going to be a bad guy in the first film as he’s usually always playing the bad guy in movies (or just in Matthew Vaughn’s movies) but I was quite relieved that Merlin wasn’t a bad guy. He remains loyal here and he and Taron Egerton have really good chemistry with each other. He actually works well with everyone. He has a great scene in the third act.
  • Halle Berry as Ginger Ale. She is the Statesman’s tech support and she wants to be a field agent. She is loyal to her team ,though she’s frustrated about not being able to make it onto the field, instead of just being behind the computer screen. She and Merlin manage to bond a bit over their tech support roles. I normally don’t care for Halle Berry but she was fine here, her character is likable and I think she manages to hold her own in this role.
  • Colin Firth as Harry Hart. He returns in this film after being shot in the head in the first film. He’s the former “Galahad” and Eggsy’s mentor. In this film, he starts off a bit different from the Harry we know. Colin Firth is always good though and he’s great in all that he does for this character in this film. He has a great action scene in the third act of the film.
Supporting Characters. Though everyone outside of Eggsy is technically a supporting character here, there are some who are in the movie that don’t have large roles. I also don’t want to talk about people without giving away any surprises in the film or what relevance they might have.
  • Jeff Bridges as Champagne “Champ”. He is the head of Statesman. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jeff Bridges with a shaved face before and it was so weird lol and he’s  cool. Very stereotypical cowboy though.
  • Channing Tatum as Tequila. He’s a Statesmen secret agent and I am not a fan of Tatum but he’s not in the movie enough for me to dislike his character. He’s fine. He has a cool action scene when we first meet him and a funny scene in the second act.
  • Surprise Celebrity. A prisoner of Poppy Adams, he’s like an extreme version of himself. But I quite enjoyed him. Especially his little action scene in the third act. He is actually the source for a lot of the humorous moments.
The Action. I definitely think the action in this movie is fast paced, it’s fun and there is a lot of it. There are some amazing action scenes. The very first scene jumps right into the action and every time there is a large action set piece, it’s very easy to get sucked right into it. The very first scene, has that awesome stunt in it with the car, as the fight is mostly in the car. Very cool. There is also a great scene when Eggsy and Merlin first get to America, where they have a quick encounter with Agent Tequila. It was fast but it was fun. The biggest action set is in Poppyland towards the end. There is a lot of action set pieces in this film, so if you’re expecting action like the first, you get it and a bit more. Eggsy has a one on one fight with one of Poppy’s main henchmen and it’s a good fight, a lot of it is like “DIANA” but it’s still fun. I like the choreography. Eggsy already had experience from his experience in his Army training so seeing him do that coupled with what he’s learned from being in the Kingsman, it’s so graceful most times. IT’S SO COOL!!! I will talk about this in the cons too though.
The Music. The music is done by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson and it’s fun. During a lot of the fight scenes after getting to America and teaming up with the Statesman the music is Country and its so funny hearing it coupled with the fight scenes. It’s so fun to enjoy the fight with the music, especially during Whiskey’s fight scene in the snow.
Cinematography. I have to say that outside of the returning characters and the actors doing well in their roles, this is probably the biggest praise. This film looks so beautiful. George Richmond is the cinematographer and the way he shoots the locations, especially when they have traveled to other places such as the Swiss Alps, so beautiful. The festival Eggsy and Whiskey attends looked beautiful. This film just looks very good.
Emotional. The movie is actually kind of emotional. It may not be like crying emotional but it has a lot of moments where you’re upset about what happened.
Cons:
The Story. I think one of the biggest problems with the movie is the story. Not that it doesn’t make sense but it’s all over the place. There’s so much going on in this movie. There’s the main plot with Poppy, there is Harry’s storyline, there is a storyline with Eggsy, almost each agent from Statesman have little subplots and the heart of the movie just gets lost in the shuffle. Subplots aren’t always bad but they’re crowding when you have a film like this. In the first one, you cared about Eggsy’s family because he cared for them and we got to see a lot of what was going on with his family and you wanted them to be safe considering their circumstances. Here, he has someone else to care about and while I was like “aww” when they were affected by the drugs, I was more invested in Eggsy’s reaction instead of what was actually happening to that person. They weren’t developed enough for me by themselves to care. It was more like “aww, Eggsy is gonna be sad”.
The Villain. A film sometimes is only as good as its antagonist but here… eh. She’s so away from everyone else that she doesn’t feel like much of a threat. Valentine was around, he was doing press and what not, using his platform in plain sight whereas she couldn’t do that and his threats were felt because he was there. But she’s just holed up in her little 1950’s Poppyland. The only people I felt she really posed a threat too is her subordinates and her celebrity hostage. The only time her threat is felt is when someone was exposed to her virus in some drug they took or smoked and someone else is worried about them. It just felt superficial and I feel like she could have been just as upfront and personal as Valentine was. I kind of wanted the hamburger thing to be a thing I feel like that would have been more menacing and it would have been a thing about fast food or meat or something lol.
The Action. A lot of this is for the action, there’s a lot going on in the action. While it’s fun and entertaining to watch there are times where it feels jumpy. In the first film it was over the top but it worked, for this one, they really went for it and it didn’t always work. The whole style of filming where the camera is spinning around the action (most evident in the Church scene from the first one) is used a lot here and while the action itself is fun and I’m like aye it’s still kind of annoying.
Slow Moments. While this film also has some good moments, there are a few times where it feels like it just halted. The first one is fast paced and even in the non action moments or the non spy moments, it was still interesting to watch and this one has a few moments where I’m like “okay, that’s cool”.
Sequelitis. This film suffers what a lot of sequels do, where they try to be bigger and better than the first one, they try to take what made the first one fresh and original and expand on that but go to far where it just feels overdone and cheap *looking at you Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2* and that’s what this film suffers from. It’s trying to hard to be better than the first one that it’s not. For example, there is already some crazy stuff that happens but there’s this one scene at the festival and I just wondered why they couldn’t just make the girl ingest the tracker. You’ll know what I’m talking about. It was so uncomfortable that Taron didn’t even want to do it lol. Sometimes it’s hard to pick up a sequel where the character has already adapted to their new lifestyle, or are in their new job venture. It’s always fun learning about it or watching the character become whatever it is, but once they’re there it has to remain interesting and sometimes it’s not. But anyways, this film could have kept what made the first one so original, surprising and fresh and just pumped more heart into it instead of pumping steroids.
Overall, I did like this film, it was fun to watch and I enjoyed it because I love Eggsy, Harry and Merlin. I liked the characters enough, I thought the actors did well in their roles. Taron Egerton was definitely a standout as he understands his character so well that he just holds the film together. He’s funny, he’s handsome, he can play all sides of his character well and I’m interested to see where he goes next. I think the action is fun to watch, it’s over the top but it’s still fun, plus coupled with the music choices it makes me feel energized watching it. The look of this film is absolutely gorgeous, all the locations look crisp like I was right there with the characters. I like the celebrity guest, they were fantastic and funny. However, this film does suffer from the “sequelitis” in which it tries to be better than the first one, by being bigger, better and more outrageous and it doesn’t succeed, it just feels like it’s trying too hard. The villain character wasn’t very interesting, menacing or fearsome even though Julianne Moore was really great at playing the character. The story is also very crowded. But I overall enjoyed the movie.
Rating: 3.0 out of 5 stars.
Are you going to see Kingsman: The Golden Circle?
What is your favorite SPY movie?
Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to keep an eye out for future reviews and other writings on my blog.