So I had the liberty of seeing this movie way early last week and I must say I was surprised. DC’s Shazam was a breath of air alongside 2018’s Aquaman. All of this following the darkness that was the previous DC/WB & Justice League flicks, which to the this day have most people on the fence about. But was it awesome or unworthy if anyone’s time? Read more below…
First off, this review is coming handwritten for several reasons… plus I prefer writing these things out sometimes so you are just going to “up” your attention span a bit & read if you want to know if this movie is worth your $10 or $15!
Anyways, Shazam follows young Billy Batson, a 15 year orphan kid from Philly, played by Asher Angel (which also seems like a comic book name). This was one of the updated changes to recent comics that I actually thought was cool. I mean all we have is Rocky when it comes to fictional heroes and whatever it is M. Night Shyamalan puts out. Nothing wrong with Rocky but NY & California pretty much squander us in the superhero comics. Just saying…
Anyways, Billy bounces from foster parent to group home & vice versa…much like that kid from the Problem Child flicks. (BTW If you haven’t seen it, rent it or something…it’s friggin hilarious.) Billy’s dilemma stems from the fact that as a kid, his mother loses him at a carnival… I won’t divulge nothing more on this because I meant what I say when this is totally spoiler free!! This lands him in a group home amid other foster kids who are raised by former foster kids. You see off the bat they these folks genuinely love these kids and are an adorable, non-traditional couple.
It is here that he meets and gets closer to another orphan, Freddy Freeman, the handicapped comic guru, played by Jack Dylan Grazer. You may remember from the 2017 film It as Eddie Kaspbrak. I thought it was a tad of irony as he play someone with issues (although his mother had Munchausen Syndrome by proxy). Moving forward, it is after he and Billy befriend each other that Billy defends him from local bullies. [Which side note I’m kinda happy to see. Like they aren’t PC bullies written to appease a more sensitive audience and not over the top as they were in It.]
But moving forward, Billy runs and hides on the El train (which actually isn’t the El at all). He then finds himself in another dimension to become Shazam or what comic book fans once knew as the OG Captain Marvel. Not to be confused with the Marvel comics moniker, which is actually a mantle passed down from comic book character Mar-Vell.
This Captain Marvel pertains to the one that caused legal matters between DC vs. Fawcett and Marvel vs. DC. Perhaps the reason why the character himself when donning his cape, isn’t actually called Shazam or even Captain Marvel in the movie. Also you will pick up on the lack of subtlety when it comes to mentioning other DC heroes like Superman especially.
What I like about this movie is that it is a big nod to fun flicks from the 80s & 90s where its a feel good movie. I mean it’s about a kid who becomes an adult with super powers no less. You have probably heard this flick is Big meets Superman and that could not be any truer. This is a definitely a family film that has a lot of depth & heart despite its advertising of pure comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was surprised and happy to hear about director David Sandberg chosen to take the reigns, despite his serious films. You may know his work from films like Lights Out and Annabelle Creation, which surpassed its predecessor in every way. Even if you don’t know the back story, you will enjoy Shazam nonetheless. I mean it’s definitely a breath of fresh air when you don’t have to explain things to non-comic book fans.
Zachery Levi steals the scene every time he is on screen. He is funny and truly embodies what would happen if a 15 year old became an adult with super powers. His costar who you would assume is loud or annoying is well not! Grazer is actually the perfect sidekick (wink wink)… ok that’s not a spoiler…but comic fans will get it!
The fight scenes, which you don’t see much of in the trailers are actually well done, the costume…well at first I thought good grief but it grows on you and we all know how much shape Levi got into for the role.
There are several nods to the comic origins especially that of their school, Fawcett Central which if you are a Philly native you will know it doesn’t exist but if you are familiar with the OG Captain Marvel origin, it’ll make sense as the comic actually created by Fawcett comics. That being said Shazam is chocked full of Easter eggs and goodies for everyone. And if you are wondering what and why he is called SHAZAM… It references those that inspire all of his powers: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles & Mercury.
That being said I had very little gripes with the movie. The only one was that of being set in Philly but not filmed in Philly. I think it would have made it more authentic to have more shots of the city as the only is the one on top of the Art Museum’s famous Rocky Steps. I won’t lie that Septa logo still bothers me (ok that’s your only spoiler). Other than that the visuals are stunning and not overly CGI like a lot of action/superhero movies these days. The action and visuals are believable so much that the darker/creepy scenes are done superbly. This is one of the reasons why I was happy to hear Sandberg was directing. The buildup and setup are actually what will make me look forward to Black Adam who will be played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The irony is that this was the film that was supposed to come out first as it was mentioned back in 2017. But nods are made when the Wizard Shazam mentions “the one that betrayed me”
That being said the movie’s villain, Dr. Sivana is played by the awesome Brit actor, Mark Strong. His intoxicating voice almost gives me the same feels as James Spader did in Age of Ultron. He is quite menacing and creepy as he proceeds to hunt down poor Billy/Shazam. I think the fact he isn’t campy or cliché gives this film balance. Each scene with both him and Shazam proves just that.
I won’t lie this film is has some parts that are fairly dark and serious. Despite this fact, it doesn’t hurt the movie. It is a fun film that is funny but not goofy and stupid. It gives you “awwww” feel good moments and really shows the not so fun/cool part about growing up too fast just as it shows you the awesomeness possibilities. Most important it shows the importance of family. Besides you are going to need all the feel goods once 4/26 comes around with Endgame.
FINALLY DC IS GETTING THEIR SHIT TOGETHER! What made Superman and Batman work were their solo acts and the buildup. We weren’t forced into the cash grab that was Justice League, which we know I liked but was not without sin.
Overall my take on Shazam is that it is Awesome!!! Go see it. I know I will be giving it another looksee. Plus that ending…OMG this film is perfect!!
Til Later Kiddies,