This movie, based on the DC Comics superhero, follows Billy Batson, an orphan teen, who can turn into an adult superhero, named Shazam. Shazam is an acronym of all of Shazam’s abilities. The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, powers of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. Together with his foster brother Freddy Freeman, they must figure out what all of his powers are and stop Dr. Sivana from stealing the power of Shazam for the demonic seven deadly sins.
The following article contains spoilers from this point on.
Another comic book character that I’m not too familiar with, this movie was an excellent build to a character first introduced in the 1940s. Shazam is different from his first incarnation, and it works well. Once again like my Aquaman article, Warner Bros and DC are going in the right direction with their comic book movie properties. However, there was an announcement of the DC Extended Universe ending or possibly being done since I typed that article. It kind of makes sense to me since both Henry Cavill who played Superman and Ben Affleck who played Batman, both left their roles to pursue other projects. It’s also confusing as Aquaman did over a billion dollars worldwide and this movie grossed 52 million dollars in the US this past weekend. Suicide Squad, another film in the DCEU, which did rather well financially despite being a critical failure and a film I found disappointing, is getting anywhere from a soft to a hard reboot and continuing. Plus this movie had a reference or two of the DCEU. So right now, I’ll say that the future is uncertain, at least in my eyes.
I thought Zachery Levi did a great job as Shazam, Billy’s alter ego whenever he said the name Shazam and transformed into him. Mark Strong was surprisingly good as Dr. Sivana. He had a great start with his character introduction but just went to the role of the threatening villain after he killed his abusive brother and father. Still, he did feel very intimidating and captured an evil presence on the screen. Mark Strong did an even better job than when he was Sinestro in Green Lantern if anyone else remembers that lousy movie. Billy Batson was played by Asher Angel. Billy wasn’t as pure of heart as I thought he would have been, but the character was performed and written well. I was convinced that everything that I saw is how a 15-year old who gets superpowers would handle it. Jack Dylan Grazer was Freddy Freeman, Billy’s foster brother, and friend. He helped provided help in discovering Billy’s powers as Shazam. Freddy was also sort of a connection with his knowledge of heroes and seemed to wear shirts of all the various heroes. He was the sidekick of sorts to Billy.
I did like, the opening that told Dr. Thaddeus Sivana origin. It felt like a rather lengthy opening, showing us the abuse he was receiving from his father and brother as a child. It was a bit of a swerve and at the same time a suitable establishment for the villain, the story and the world that we are about to watch. For the physical embodiment of Pride, Envy, Lust, Wrath, Sloth, Greed, and Gluttony, whenever I saw them, I had a strange feeling that I was looking at creatures from the movie Ghostbusters. I can’t explain why they just came off as creatures from that film. What could have been better is if Dr. Sivana would have had the powers of the seven deadly sins, instead of having what appeared to be similar powers of Shazam as well. It would have been interesting to have him use the strength of Wrath or cause Chaos with Envy, or something to that extent.
This movie does suffer from some one-dimensional characters. Two upperclassmen kids are bullies to Freddy because they are bullies. No explanation behind why they just pick on Freddy. I also feel Dr. Sivana went one dimensional after he killed his father and brother in the board meeting scene. He was just trying to get the power of Shazam for the Seven Deadly Sins unknowingly, to destroy the world. Even the foster parents seemed very inept to Billy and Freddy’s antics and played the typical kind adoptive parents who seemed not to realize what was going on around them. I have a minor gripe that the orphans didn’t have a back story. I’m willing to overlook that fact, but when there is detail as to why Billy was an orphan, a little something would have been beautiful for the other kids in that house as to the way they are orphaned.
The movie was long as well, at about 2 hours and 30 or so minutes. It would have been fine if the film moved at an even pace. Which it was, until the films climax and when Billy, gives the powers of Shazam to his foster family, making them the Shazam family. It was an unusual move by the writers, and I thought that this was something that was forced. I did look it up afterward and saw and know that they were a thing in the comics. I wonder why do this so soon instead of the next movie? It’s rush a dragged out story, and a fight between Dr. Sivana and Shazam would have been alright.
This movie had a lighter tone that DC movies seem to have been going for lately. It wasn’t anything that was or is going to have me blown away, but I had fun and enjoyed the movie. This movie was a lot lighter than most other DC movies, at least the ones that Zac Synder had worked on. I was expecting it to be more kid-friendly, but it wasn’t. The movie seemed to have a lot more morality tales and hard life lessons or having to come to certain realities. The fact that the main character was an orphan and kind of a runaway seemed like a bit of a downer. I will give the film credit as the orphan kids that were shown in the movie, his foster brothers and sisters, were kids in the best of spirits and helped to push the family element, even if Billy wanted no part of that throughout the movie.
Everything felt alright to me in terms of story. There was one detail of why Billy’s mom never made an attempt to find him. I thought it was odd that his mom couldn’t find him at an amusement park. Even after he was placed with the cops. After Billy’s foster family help him find his mom and Billy’s runs off to find her, she revealed that she abandoned him. She explained that she was a young mother and saw this as an opportunity to start over. I probably should have seen this coming, as I couldn’t figure out how any mother would have lost her kid for 10 or so years. But it made sense and struck you emotionally when you see that Billy was abandoned. It pushed the message of sometimes a real family isn’t always blood-related.
Back to the DCEU, with something that was claimed to be dead, it’s in full swing it feels like. I know that this movie was shot and completed before the DCEU message was announced. But Batman, Superman, and Aquaman get a lot of mention in this movie. Freddy has a bullet that was shot at Superman and owns a Batarang. There is an end scene after the credits of Billy was Shazam calling Aquaman powers lame. They established that these heroes are all around in the movie. Maybe with the recent success of this movie the DCEU isn’t as dead as we thought it was. I just wonder why no one had taken Shazam under the wing for tutelage or scold him for the way that he was using his powers?
The film does end with a build to a sequel as Dr. Sivana is in prison, trying to access the gateway to the Rock of Eternity. He gets approached by a caterpillar/worm-like creature called Mister Mind. This must be probably the strangest villains I’ve ever seen. It seems like choosing a bad guy that can be stopped by stepping on it or killing it with Pesticide is the worst choice for a villain. I am aware that he is a compelling villain and enemy to Shazam. I’m going to go along with it for the next movie, as I’m interested to see what it does. I think that it will be a great, but bizarre, choice if it is written correctly. I don’t believe that an evil space worm was used in a comic book movie yet.
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