By James Davidson
“Shazam!” is the story every kid dreams will happen to them. Fourteen-year-old, troubled orphan, Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel) gets placed in a new foster home after running away from all of his old homes. Along with his new foster parents, Billy has five new foster siblings; Mary, Freddy, Pedro, Eugene, and Darla. Billy is skeptical of his new family and doesn’t want to get close to them because he believes that he has to look out for himself and no one else.
After getting chased into the subway by some bullies at school, Billy is magically transported to a strange cave with a strange old man who claims to be a wizard. The Wizard tells Billy that he has been chosen to take over for him as protector of the magical realms. After receiving the Wizard’s magical powers, all Billy has to do is say the Wizard’s name, “Shazam”, and he is transformed into a powerful superhero and by repeating the name he is changed back into a kid.
I have been looking forward to this movie since it was announced over a year ago. Shazam is my favorite DC superhero. Something about a little kid getting superpowers by saying a magical word appeals to my inner child; it’s basically every kids dream. Given DC’s track record with bad movies though, I was a little worried that they might not do this great character justice.
However, my worries were totally unwarranted and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The casting was perfect. Billy and his foster siblings look and act exactly like their comic counterparts. Additionally, Zachary Levi, who plays Shazam, perfectly captures the essence of a teenager in an adult superhero’s body. The acting is a little cheesy, but it is done purposefully and adds a lot of humor to the movie.
The director did a great job at adding humor in the perfect places to keep the movie light and fun. The entire feel of the movie was fresh, fun, and fast-paced. The fact that the main character is essentially a teenager in a superpowered adult’s body causes a lot of funny situations. Shazam uses his powers and adult appearance for a lot of obvious juvenile reasons at first, which I found pretty funny,.
Dr. Savan (played by Mark Strong) is the main villain in this film. He is being used by the Seven Deadly Sins to attempt to take Shazam’s powers which is the only way they can take over the magical realms. Even though there are some dark aspects to the bad guy, the humor still lightens the mood of the movie and makes it fun and sets it apart from other superhero movies by DC.
The major issue with this movie is the superhero name. Shazam can’t call himself “Shazam” without changing back into Billy. In the comics this was solved by Shazam’s name being Captain Marvel, however, that wasn’t an option for this movie due to copyright reasons. The director even took this challenge and turned it into a running joke of Shazam being called many horrible superhero names.
I also enjoyed that this movie had a moral lesson throughout. Billy is used to being on his own and not relying on anyone else, but he must learn the importance of family and how to trust other, especially his foster siblings. He also must learn that he can’t do everything himself. These lessons are also running themes in the comics and I loved how they were worked into the film.
The movie has a very comic-like feel to it and is very true to the Shazam! comics. Any comic fan will most likely love this movie, I know I did. It felt like a fresher take on the superhero movies we are used to from the DC Universe.
‘Shazam!” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material. It might not be appropriate for small children, but is perfect for families with teenagers or a night out with friends.
“Shazam!” is a hilarious, fresh, superhero movie that teaches the importance of family and trusting others. It might be the best superhero movie to come out so far this year. I can’t wait for this movie to come out on DVD, so I can add it to my collection to watch again and again. It earns 5 out of 5 stars.