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A boy given abilities to become an adult superhero in times of need enters the DC Cinematic Universe when young Billy Batson finds himself gifted with the power of the wizard Shazam. What this means is the teenager, when he says "shazam!", transforms into a costumed, musclebound hero (Zachary Levi)... but doesn't develop the brain to match.
The latest champion in an age-old battle between good and evil, Billy Batson mostly enjoys goofing off with his new-found powers, despite the urging of his best friend and superhero enthusiast, Freddy. When he's sought out by a villainous physicist (Mark Strong) embodying ancient evils, Batson will need to transform himself into an actual hero, not just someone that looks like one.
- David F. Sandberg('Lights Out', 'Annabelle: Creation')
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Blockbuster
Rating: M Mature themes and action violence
In 2015 Steven Spielberg made headlines when he predicted superhero films would ‘go the way of the western’. Sure, he was taken massively out of context, but it is interesting to see how, four years on, the genre shows no signs of slowing, either financially or creatively.
Faced with the box office-destroying assembly line of Marvel product, DC has loosened up, and after unleashing the technicolour eyegasm that was James Wan’s Aquaman, here’s another relatively distinct take on the genre. Where Wan went full maximalist though, director David F. Sandberg has made Shazam! intentionally small, leaning into the goofiness of its concept and leaving some time for small-scale human drama.
Like a turbo-charged ‘Big’ riff, Zachary Levi is a teen in a (super)man’s body. It’s a great spin on the standard origin story, allowing for jokes about buying beer alongside the usual scenes of power-learning. It’s also nice to see one of these where acquiring said powers is shown as joyful rather than dreary. Levi brings boatloads of charisma to the role, although it’s slightly jarring that his teen alter ego Billy (Asher Angel) is such a damp squib. Perhaps those powers include charm? His best bud Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) fares much better, all nervous energy and wisecracks.
Shazam! is being sold as a family-friendly effort, but Sandberg’s background in horror filmmaking comes to the fore in scenes involving the baddies, which get pretty nasty. They’re also some of the best scenes in the film, building on some very odd mythology involving a wizard and a magic cave. A few curveballs near the end help things go out on a high, again aiming for maximum fun rather than the usual hero/villain fistfight (although that happens too). By honing in on its own unique, weird energy, Shazam! succeeds, along the way proving there are plenty of new ways to tell these super-stories.
Total Film (UK)
NZ Herald (Toby Woollaston)
Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)
A nice break from all the angsty DC films
It's nice to see some DC films beginning to stray away from their dark and angsty style and incorporating some comedy especially with Shazam where it fits in the most. It consists of the DCEU style from Zack Synder but done better.
The film introduces us to a new and more unknown DC Comic's character Shazam, and it is a relief they did the character justice with with it's comedic nature and child like manner from 'Billy Batson' even when transformed to the amazing Shazamt isn't the worst either. It is light-hearted but also has deep character arks through the characters!
The film's storyline isn't perfect but it's easy to follow and understand. It can be silly at times especially with the villain who indeed is your stereotypical mysterious and brooding 'bad guy' but the movie is fully aware of it and goes along with it.
It's an entertaining and easy-going film. A great origin story film and honestly did not disappoint.
Funny, sort of
I have no background for comics now movies, so my review is based predominantly on the viewing of it. The movie definitely had some laughs, I'm unsure if I'm hard to please with humour, the trailer showed a lot of the funny moments, Zachary Levi played a great role and there was some great, unexpected actors in the movie. My friend and I thought this movie was more for the younger generation that for the older. Great movie for the school holidays.
A rare win for the horror/comedy genre.
In some respects this is a hard movie to peg. The trailer made it appear to be aimed at a young audience. Good natured goofy fun. And there was much of that. However the first half leaned heavily towards horror. And did it well.
Shazam! opens with the origin story of it's super-villain. Ably carried by both the junior and senior versions' actors, this sequence covers familiar territory of an emotionally abused child growing to a resentful adult. Mark Strong's turn as the worm that turns is, possibly, the darkest moment in this movie. You might not want to take the whole family to this movie. Watching some one lashing out with murderous rage at bullies has a grim reality, even with the magical bells and whistles.
The second half sees a lot of light hearted bumbling into heroism. Zack Levi does a delightful job in the child-in-an-adult's body bit, leading to a number of out loud laughs from the audience. And me! Once or twice I wondered if the street savy Billy Baston would be so gawky but I decided to put it down to a rush of hormones, adrenalin and super-powers. Enough to throw anyone.
Angel Asher as Billy Baston did a fine job for one so young. Taking his character through a plausible growth arch while engaging with a likeable ensemble cast of a quickly established support network in the form of his foster family. I found myself wondering if the resemblance between Asher and Levi was intentional. One, perhaps, of the many insider references in this movie. Fortunately those references weren't belaboured enough to be distracting. Just present enough to raise a few extra smiles.
The last 10-15 minuets managed to blend tones successfully. Comedy came out on top as it should in any family friendly movie. The arrival of the Marvel Family - or, more likely, the Shazam Family - most welcome. All and all, a well rounded movie. A solid foundation to a new branch for the DC franchise and another step in a more confident, more successful DC Movie Univers.
Another Win for DC
Shazam is directed by David F. Sandberg, it stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong and Djimon Hounsou.
Shazam tells the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who’s been chosen by the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) to take up his mantle
As a comicbook movie Shazam works in many ways, the movie in general is fun and it’s highly entertaining. Zachary Levi plays Shazam and he perfectly embodies an adult with a 15 year old mind. His chemistry with Freddy Freeman who’s played by Jack Dylan Grazer is great and they create this odd mentor, men-tee relationship that’s very fun to watch.
Asher Angel is also great as Billy Batson, you understand why he is the way he is. He’s got a very emotional arc which elevates the movie even further. There’s an underlying message about family and the movie hits this perfectly.
Unfortunately much like the majority of comicbook films the movie suffers from it’s villains. Mark Strong plays Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and though the movie gives a sympathetic backstory as the movie progresses there’s nothing much to his character other than someone who wants power. There are also CGI monsters which aren’t that great.
Overall Shazam is definitely one of the better DC comic book movies, alongside Wonder Woman and to some extent Aquaman. It delivers plenty of laughs and the chemistry between the actors are great, you buy that Zachary Levi is an adult with a child’s mind and he plays this perfectly.
Other characters are also great especially the other foster kids as well as their foster parents and even with very little screen time Djimon Hounsou is great as a wizard who just wants his mantle to be passed. Shazam is highly recommended, though caution there are several scary scenes that might not be good younger children.
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