Shazam!: Recommended For Ages 5 and Up (Movie Review)

Shazam! Movie ReviewI remember seeing the first production stills of Shazam! online and thinking how awful/embarrassing our hero’s inflated muscle outfit looked.  Surely this was a joke and they were keeping his real superhero suit under wraps or inserting it digitally later in post.  Wrong!  Then something happened and I was like whoa this actually looks not only legit, but fun and hysterical as well.  That moment I speak of was when the film’s first theatrical trailer dropped.  Not only was the inflated muscle bound costume the real thing, but for the first time since I saw those stills I breathed a sigh of relief.  This feature looked like a blast.  Couple that with the initial wave of early reviews that were not only favorable, but claiming this was one of the best DCEU movies yet and you had my attention dripping whet with anticipation.  So here we are!


Needless to say Shazam! has been in development hell for a very long, long time.  Many attached names have come and gone over the years, but here we are in 2019 and Shazam! is officially the seventh installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).  After the rocky reception of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad I’m surprised we actually made it to a number seven here.  I guess we have Wonder Woman to thank for all that, but I digress.  Our superhero feature here is directed by David F. Sandberg from a screenplay by Henry Gayden.  The film stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who transforms into our adult superhero, played by Chuck‘s Zachary Levi.  Actors Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer and Djimon Hounsou round out the package.  It’s also the first live-action film version of the character since the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel, which believe it or not is the character’s original name.  However, I digress.  I’m not here to start a Marvel versus DC war.  We all know who the clear winner there is.


According to online research I conducted Shazam! takes place one year after Steppenwolf’s failed invasion in Justice League.  We follow troubled 14-year-old orphan Billy Batson as he moves in with the Vazquez family and their other five foster kids.  One fateful day, while riding on a subway car, young Billy finds himself transported to a different realm where he meets a wizard.  No this is not the Harry Potter universe.  Thank you New Gods for that!   This particular wizard gives Billy the power to transform into a godlike adult superhero simply by speaking the word “Shazam!”  The fun and games of this includes Billy and his new foster brother Freddy Freeman discovering Billy’s new powers and how to use them.  They better hurry though if they are to prevent the villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong), who has “seven” treacherous powers…um I mean “sins” of his own.


Here’s the deal folks.  I went into Shazam! both wanting and expecting to love it like I did every other DCEU film thus far (although I was initially not fond of Suicide Squad truth be told).  I left feeling utterly meh about the overall feature here.  I like my DCEU dark and brooding.  This one felt like I was watching a movie made for kids like maybe they got the Pokemon plot mixed up with this one.  I know.  I am not getting any young and maybe the bah humbug in me is coming out here.  The crux of my story though is while there’s nothing to seriously harp on or ding this one in the story department the overall execution did very little to excite me.  I loved the fact that this takes place in the DCEU, but every chance they got I feel like the filmmakers belittled the 7 picture franchise.  If this is their idea of paying homage, then I’d rather they leave Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman as fictional characters in this tale.  The coolest Easter egg for me wasn’t DCEU related, but actually Annabelle affiliated.  Yes!  I went there.  Go figure!


While the story didn’t ultimately do it for me the performances were all splendid.  Zachary made a likable hero and Mark Strong took over the villain reigns like he never really died in Kick-Ass all those years ago.  The stars of the film for me weren’t even the heroes, but instead the foster kids.  They cracked me up (especially the adorable little girl), but outside of them I couldn’t help but feel that all the best parts of the film were all shown prior within the theatrical trailers.  Production-value was spot on and VFX looked solid, but those agonizing fights between Strong and Levi went on forever and like a novocaine shot numbed me after ten minutes or so.  I’d rather watch a half hour of Superman v. Zod crashing through buildings than watch another fight between Strong and Levi’s characters.  Yawn!  Again, for me the real star of Shazam! were the kids and the comedy.  Come to think of it though that brings me back full circle to my Harry Potter/wizard comment from a few paragraphs ago.  I guess one could logically collate the two and declare Shazam! the “Harry Potter” of the existing DCEU franchise (this one is for the kid in all of us).  It certainly fits the bill.  It has wizards, magic, monsters and above all else diversity in today’s PC world (not that there’s anything wrong with that…just pointing it out).  Here’s hoping a second viewing on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format wins me over a smidge more.  For now I’ll just settle on a score slightly above average.  Enjoy!


P.S.  There’s a middle and end credits sequence here too.  You’re welcome!  Also, truth be told…I do feel like the minority here.  Everyone at my screening absolutely loved this one.  Maybe I’m just an old fart.  I do know of one guy though who couldn’t even make it through the film’s theatrical trailers (and he liked Aquaman) so there is that!  Bring on the Harley Quinn Birds of Prey movie.  Next February can’t come fast enough!

Shazam! Movie Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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