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 adult superhero Shazam.
Contains some spoilers…
DC Comics character Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) has been described as a fun light-hearted version of Superman. So it makes sense that the trailer for Shazam! makes the character’s origin story look like a fun time. Young Billy Batson is gifted superhero abilities from a wizard and must face his arch-nemesis Doctor Sivana before he loses everything & everyone he loves.
Riding on the coattails of Aquaman (which, as of this post, is still playing in almost 300 theaters after 3 months), there has been a lot of anticipation building up for Shazam. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a while so I was pretty excited to get a sneak peek. I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Here’s the breakdown:
Story: 9 – It’s not everyday you see a boy become a superhero on a whim with the mention of 1 word! Even though 14 year old Billy is still a kid with real kid problems, he also has to face real consequences as a hero – and a hero in training, at that. And even though it takes him some time to finally become “Shazam”, this origin story flows smoothly and quickly, all without jeopardizing continuity or character development… which leads to:
Casting: 9 – There aren’t too many characters you need to familiarize yourself with… and that’s because this movie focuses on family & what a family is, and you can tell this is a tight-knit cast. In fact, I was quite amazed by all the young actors! Not only did the casting department nail it with their abilities, but matching their counterparts’ mannerisms and looks, even! From the “old” cast, Zachary Levi’s boyish charisma works really well and is evenly countered by Mark Strong’s brooding personality. And kudos to DC for bringing John Glover (Smallville’s Lionel Luthor) back into the fold!
Visuals: 9 – One of the parts I worry about in these kind of comic book blockbuster movies is that the CGI won’t be believable (even though this year’s Alita blew me away in that department). But DC Comics stepped up their game in Shazam! with some seamless looks. With main characters hailing from magical realms, you’re bound to encounter a lot of unbelievable creatures & beings. But things like the uncanny valley or rubberiness from slow-mo was almost unnoticeable this time around! And though some fans were slightly skeptical of the costume designs from early images, I thought they were done very nicely in the end.
Action: 9 – You’ll find yourself saying “OH!” here & there during action sequences. It isn’t a “fight choreography” type of movie, but an exciting, popcorn popping, “cheering for the heroes” kind of film. With someone as strong as Captain Marvel, you need to make sure the villain is on par, and Mark Strong’s Doctor Silvana certainly had tricks of his own. And just like he would in the comics or the cartoon, Captain Marvel keeps even the toughest encounters a little upbeat with quips & witty remarks. Which brings us to:
Humor: 9 – I think a lot of people weren’t sure just how much comedy to expect… with each DCEU movie, there seems to be more & more jokes written into the dialogue. But Shazam! takes the comedy to a whole new level, and justly so! I can’t describe how satisfying it was to be part of a packed theater collectively laughing at all the jokes. With the clever writing and awesome delivery, I think I just might have laughed more in Shazam! than some of the recent comedy movies I’ve seen!
I also have to recognize the great music throughout the movie. Composer Benjamin Wallfisch locked down a lot of fantastic elements that made the score as “superhero-ish” as possible – it was fun & reminiscent of the first superhero movies while capturing the epic sounds we’re used to today.
The movie is also chock-full of easter eggs! You may need to brush up on your Captain Marvel/Shazam trivia to catch some of them but there were some excellent nods sprinkled from beginning to end (plus a handful of other DCEU superhero mentions). But even if you have zero knowledge about the comics, everything else is explained pretty clearly for the uninitiated!
All in all, I think this is another major win for DC – 9’s across the board and obviously leaves room for a sequel, which I hope Warner Brothers will pursue… hopefully sooner rather than later, since we are dealing with actual growing children! And with a nice balance of action, heart, and comedy, Shazam! was quite the breath of fresh air.
P.S. Stick around because there’s 1 mid-credits scene and 1 post-credits scene!
Shazam! is rated PG-13 with a running time of 122 minutes and hits theaters April 5, 2019.
Directed by David Sandberg.
Starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer.