Set pretty low. This is a DC movie after all.
Shazam! killed it.
I don’t think that I will see a more fun movie all year.
Shazam is really a pretty old character. He was originally introduced in Fawcett Comics in the 1940’s. Since then, the character’s rights have been transferred to DC. Over the years, there have been a few lawsuits over him concerning copyright infringement with Superman, and later with Marvel Comics’s Captain Marvel.
Once DC acquired the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, they re-branded him under the name Shazam. This is, of course, the magic word young Billy Batson says to turn him into the powerful super-hero. I grew up watching the Captain Marvel live-action television show as a kid. To be honest, though, I was really watching the Power Hour because I had a crush on The Mighty Isis…
Let me put it this way, the entire theater was erupting in laughter within a few minutes of Shazam starting. The movie played with all sorts of comedy, from physical comedy to humorous references. I know that I am going to be watching this movie any time I want a good laugh.
Not A KID’S Film:
A lot of people have the impression that this movie is a “kid’s film”. It’s not. It’s got some pretty violent scenes and plays with some more adult themes. Kids will love it. It doesn’t treat them like they are children, but rather treats them like they are people. There is also a fair bit of cursing int it. That’s surprising for a super-hero film, but I thought it was true to life, and not thrown in for shock. Someone also mentioned that this was a film made for boys. It isn’t.
This is really where the movie succeeds over all the other DCEU films. The big baddy in Shazam, Dr. Sivana, is played to the proverbial “T” by Mark Strong. The audience gets to know this character and empathize with him. He has pretty valid reasons for being a going down the path of evil.
His story is just about as interesting as that of our main characters. Unlike Harry Potter Troll Doomsday or whatever that blobby looking thing was supposed to be, or I so didn’t see that twist coming at all, you mean he was the bad guy all along? Ares, or so “evil” he was boring Steppenwolf, that I actually look forward to this guy potentially coming back in future movies. He isn’t quite so good that I would want to see a movie about him, but he’s close. Sivana is the equal of Shazam across the board, and not just in his “power level”. He matches him throughout the film in a variety of ways and heightens the tension throughout.
Whoever cast this film did a bang up job. Working with young people can be tough. One kids bad acting can totally ruin a film (yes, I am looking right at you Deric McCabe. He played Charles Wallace in A Wrinkle in Time, and knocked Jake Lloyd off that throne). These kids did a fantastic job all around. Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer both do really good work on screen, but Faithe Herman, who plays Darla, is great, and she really pulls off the look of the comic character.
Herman’s reactions and timing are spot on for the scenes that she is in. Zachary Levi really plays in several worlds. He is both a super-hero and a child in an adult’s body. He brings an energy to the role that makes it totally believable. His experience is used to create comedy gold. The film really plays with this aspect of the character very well. The interplay between the kids is one of the best things about the movie. I have to say, Zachary Levi has certainly earned his honorary teenager badge after this.
Mark Strong, an actor who I normally don’t like, was the right choice for this role. Maybe it’s partly that I already don’t like him. I have to say, though, that he really nailed the role of Dr. Sivana. The casting for Shazam was really well done all around.
Shazam takes place in the world of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC heroes. The kids in the movie are well aware of this fact. They collect ephemera and memorabilia of those heroes. Everyone is aware of heroes. You should keep your eyes out for every reference to DC heroes as they pop up throughout the film. They are everywhere. They are on t-shirts, backpacks, posters, and all over. You see them everywhere.
The way in which the characters talk about DC heroes seems very real. This is exactly what would happen in a world populated by beloved heroes. Jokes about the other DC heroes come up constantly, and they are some of the funniest ones in the film. Keep your eyes peeled true believers. Uh-oh crossed teams there for a second. If you look for all those references, then that will add an extra level of play to an already fun movie.
TWIST(S) (or unexpected moments for some people:
Yep. There are a few. From hints in the film, I had some pretty good ideas as to what they were going to be. Even though I sat there hoping for them to happen, they exceeded everything I wanted from them when they finally did.
ENDS ON TOP:
Let me just say that at least for me, the final battle and following scene end up on top of the energy in the film. You have to see it to know what I am talking about (and you should go see it).
POST CREDITS SCENES:
There is more than one. Stay for the post credit sequences.
Thank you DC for not taking this film seriously. They just let the characters be the odd characters that they are. They did not force them into the gritty, dark mess that so much of the DCEU has been. Shazam totally works. I really don’t know how a better Shazam movie could have been made. As I said, I have a sneaking feeling that this will the most fun film I will see all year. The energy reminded me of my favorite film, Flash Gordon. I don’t know what can tell you how much I liked it more than that.
Go see it. Enjoy!
David F. Sandberg (“Annabelle: Creation”) directs New Line Cinema’s “Shazam!,” the origin story that stars Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Mark Strong (the “Kingsman” movies) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, and Asher Angel (TV’s “Andi Mack”) as Billy Batson. Peter Safran (“Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle” films) serves as the film’s producer.
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).