This movie was shockingly good… sorry, I promise that is the only lightening pun I’ll make. Anyways, I really enjoyed it. The 2019 DC movie, directed by David F. Sandberg, is a unique take on the superhero genre. Instead of taking a god like figure and attempting to make them gritty and grounded, we see the opposite. An orphan, not exactly original for superheroes, is granted the powers of seven gods, and learns a lesson in what it means to be a man. This is a movie made for children, told from the perspective of children, with parts that made this ground man giggle and cry.
First off Shazam! is hilarious. This is a different pacing for a DC movie that has prided itself as being the “gritty” comic book universe. The films have been changing since the dark days of Zach Snyder, but none of them have really leaned into this level of humor before. The best part is the jokes, which are original and make sense. They aren’t forced and they definitely are not rip offs. Zachary Levi was a perfect choice for the main character. You feel like this is a 15-year-old. I never saw the TV show Chuck but I might try to find a stream if he brings the same level of comedic timing as he does in this movie. The rest of the cast is also just as funny. Jack Dylan Graze, Freddy, is the character where the writers put majority of the jokes and it works. I actually want to see him being a sarcastic joke making fanboy in the rest of the DC universe. While I found myself laughing throughout most of the movie, the creators also hit you in the face with a truly touching story.
The reason I left this movie smiling was because of the jokes and good vibe, but the reason I can’t stop thinking about Shazam! is for the story. The film actually starts off really dark. The villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, played by Mark Strong (this not being his first attempt to break into the DC movie game), was compelling. His motive is relatable. Every audience member can think of a time that they were told they weren’t good enough. Although he diverges from the comic book character he represents, I appreciated the version of Dr. Sivana that we got. His story of feeling lost mirrors Billy Batson’s, played by Asher Angel, which is obviously intentional. Both are lost in a world searching for something taken from them. Although Billy is an orphan, he does not have the tragic death of his parents which compeles him into become a hero. Instead this movie offers a different view on the orphan card. His reason isn’t from the loss of his family, but the formation of one.
DC finally gave the world a superhero movie for kids. It is a truly wholesome film. I would say majority of comic book movies are directed for children and teaches a strong moral message (except maybe Infinity War) but this one does it in a way I think is more effective. By making a movie about a child, children in the audience can actually see themselves in it, especially the lost ones. Billy Batson is in a foster home with several other orphans. And this movie really grounds down the important of finding a home. Other than Freddy, the rest of his family is played by Grace Fulton, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, and Faithe C. Herman, who plays Darla Dudley and I honestly wish she was my little sister. All taken in lovingly by parents who were foster kids themselves, played by Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews. This cast is great and the dynamic between them is fluid and organic. Family is a group of people who love and support you. And when you have that, you can do anything. Well that and super powers.
Shazam! is self-aware, I mean literally so self-aware that they have DC merchandise in the movie. But it makes fun of the classic tropes of super hero films that has been the direct cause of superhero fatigue. It also pokes some fun at Hollywood in general with nods to films such as Rocky and Big. The film is a lightning bolt of originality (sorry needed to put one more in here.) It survives The Snappening because I was genuinely excited, thrilled, horrified, and pleased. I highly suggest you go see it and furthermore I recommend bringing your kids, or I mean literally any kid to be honest, as long as it isn’t some sort of stranger, which would be weird. Even if they don’t like it, they probably won’t be trying beer anytime soon. But it also might ruin Santa for them.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith