Movie Review: Shazam!

Steve Wilkie/© DC Comics

Shazam review: When I saw the trailers for Shazam, I thought they were underwhelming and did not expect much from the movie. Ever since the DCEU has started, most people have been disappointed with how these classic characters have been portrayed.  Most of their movies have been panned by critics and audiences alike. Recently, however, they have seemed to have gotten their act down with Wonder Woman and Aquaman, generating critical acclaim. Now you can add Shazam to one of the characters the DCEU has gotten right.

Spoilers Ahead!

Shazam! follows young Billy Batson, a foster child looking for his mother. The plot is pretty unoriginal, as the movie employs the “chosen one” storyline, but the comedy definitely compensates for that. Shazam! is packed to the brim with jokes and references to modern pop culture. The comedy is pretty hit and miss; some of the jokes had me crying with laughter, while others made me roll my eyes. Although the comedy can be funny, it interrupts some of the more emotional parts, like when Shazam is fighting Doctor Sivana for the last time.

As I said before, Shazam!’s plot is pretty unoriginal. A wizard called Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) is looking for a champion to help him contain the Seven Deadly Sins. He randomly chooses children to be tested by the Sins. In a flashback we see the Wizard test a young Thaddeus Sivana (Ethan Pugiotto) and tells him he is not worthy, Thaddeus accidentally startles his father, causing a car crash which makes him swear revenge against the Wizard.

Then we skip to present day and our protagonist 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who is looking for his mother who he got separated from at a carnival when he was 3 years old.  Billy is taken in by a foster family where he meets his new “brothers and sisters”: Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mary Bromfield (Grace Fulton), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen), Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman), and Pedro Peña (Jovan Armand).

Meanwhile, Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) opens a portal to the Rock of Eternity (where the Wizard is) and releases the Seven Deadly Sins. They get absorbed into an orb that replaces Sivana’s eyeball with the Sins inside. Them we see Billy stoping Freddy from being bullied for being crippled, and he is forced to run into a subway. While riding the subway everyone else disappears and he is taken to the Rock of Eternity and meets the dying Wizard. The Wizard tells Billy that he is the last hope to save the world and stop the Sins. He tells him to grab his staff and say his name so his power can flow through him. When Billy finally says Shazam, he is turned into an adult and the Wizard turns to dust.

He is teleported back onto the subway as a full-grown superhero (he calls himself Shazam after the wizard). Shazam (Zachary Levi) now goes to his foster home and confronts Freddy (who loves superheroes) and asks him to teach him about being a superhero. Freddy then teaches Shazam to control his new superpowers, some of which include: the ability to shoot lightning bolts, superhuman strength, super speed, superhuman resistance, and later flight. Freddy soon starts filming Shazam and uploading the videos calling him the Red Cyclone.

However, when Shazam starts making money off his powers, Freddy starts to feel he isn’t using his powers correctly. Then as Shazam shows off for a crowd he accidentally crashes a bus but then saves it; Freddy feels Shazam has been abusing his powers and tells him to leave. Shazam then meets Doctor Sivana, who needs Shazam's powers to be able to use the Seven Sins at their full power. They have a destructive fight in a mall, only when Shazam says his name and turns back into Billy is he able to escape. Then Doctor Sivana sees that Freddy had been talking to Shazam and kidnaps him.

Billy, feeling as though he has no family, decides to try to find his mother (Caroline Palmer) again. When his foster family shows him her address, he runs away to meet her. When he talks to her, she reveals that she did see him get lost at the carnival and didn’t want to go get him because she was 17 years old and thought he would be better off with someone else. Billy finally accepts that his foster family is his true family, and returns to them only to find Doctor Sivana and the Seven Sins waiting for him.

He lets them take him to the Rock of Eternity to drain his powers but his family follows. Just when Doctor Sivana was about to drain his power and give it to the Sins, Freddy throws a Batarang at Sivana and cuts him. The Sins return to him and the cut heals, but Shazam and the others had time to escape. Telling the others to hold on to him, Shazam teleports them back to Earth and they start to run again from Sivana. Shazam tries to distract Sivana while the others run back leading him to the carnival they were at. Shazam tries to blend in as Billy but is caught by Sivana. He strikes Sivana with a lightning bolt but Sivana sends the Sins after his family. After they had all been rounded up, Shazam agrees to give his power to Sivana, but zaps him instead. He then tells the others to grab the staff and say Shazam. They all turn into fully-grown superheroes as well and start to beat the Sins. But while the others are fighting, Shazam goes to Sivana and tricks him into releasing the last Sin from his eye. Sivana then loses his power as Shazam removes the orb from his eye, trapping the Sins inside. The plot has been used before but the amazing comedy and action distract from this.

Shazam! has mediocre visuals, with some amazingly realistic parts and other areas that fall flat. In the movie, Shazam’s suit looks strange and stands out (in a bad way). It seems that the producers had the actor wear a practical suit and then CGI’d over the suit, making it look strange and unnatural compared to everything else. The Seven Deadly Sins also stand out and don’t look as though they are actually there. Most of the fight scenes are obviously green screened and the CGI is not very convincing. There are some good parts to the CGI, like the lightning, but most of the CGI is inadequate.

Shazam! had decent sounds, but most were taken from other movies, like the sound of the lightning bolt. The Seven Deadly Sins don’t speak a lot and use noises that sound like they are from the movie Gremlins. The soundtrack isn’t anything to marvel at, but it does its job. It gets you hyped in the action and sad in the emotional moments.

All in all, Shazam was a blast to watch. I feel like the trailers didn’t do this movie justice, as the trailers made Shazam! look like an all-comedy no action superhero movie. This movie was very well done and if you haven't watched it yet, go to the theater—it's worth the watch.

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