Writer: Henry Gayden, Darren Lemke (Screenplay) Bill Parker, C.C. Beck (Creators)
Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel
Plot: 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.
Tagline – If you want to save the world, say the magic word.
Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Tonally Messy
Story: Shazam! Starts when teenage runaway Billy Batson (Angel) gets sent to the latest foster home after being caught searching for his mother, Billy must share a room with Freddy (Grazer) who is a comic book enthusiast. When Billy is select as the latest candidate by a Wizard (Hounsou) he is given the power to become Shazam! (Levi) a superhero.
Billy must turn to Freddy for help to understand these new powers which he uses for fun, until Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Strong) comes looking for the power after he was a rejected candidate because he was drawn to the evil within the lair. Billy must learn his powers to stop Thaddeus from bringing chaos to the world.
Thoughts on Shazam!
Characters – Shazam is the superhero version of Billy, this plays out like any teenage who would become a teenager, be it buying alcohol, skipping school or visiting a strip club, he is immature just like you would imagine and must learn to control his powers to fight Thaddeus, he is meant to be an icon for good. Dr Thaddeus Sivana was once a candidate to be given the power of Shazam, but he was drawn to the evil, banished from the lair, he has dedicated his life to searching for the truth which he unlocks the evil of the seven deadly sins. Billy is a runaway teenager, he is in search for his mother, he doesn’t like the foster system, but this new family give him a chance, he continues in his rebellious ways until he is given the power of Shazam which lets him learn the true meaning of family. Freddy is the roommate and superhero expect that is help Billy understand his new powers, he would love to be in his position because he gets constantly bullied at school.
Performances – Zachary Levi in the Shazam might well look the part, but due to him complete difference to character to Billy it is hard to take him seriously in this role. Mark Strong is as I have always said, an easy to pick villain that never lets you down. Jack Dylan Grazer brings plenty of enthusiasm to his role, while Asher Angel does his best mood teen impression.
Story – The story shows us how a foster child is given unlimited power by a wizard who needs somebody to take over the guardian role to protect the realms from evil, only the evil is out and the foster kid is the last resort to stop this evil. It would be fair to say this is a tonally confusing story, we have a villain that is very dark and could easily be just another figure from later Harry Potter story, he has the deadly sins which are monsters that are trying to scare children, only for some reason they don’t, we have a reluctant hero who would rather make money of his need alter ego than help people. The problems do mount up quickly here as Billy and Shazam do feel like very different characters and it feels like Shazam is just Zachary Levi doing his funny man routine, over the idea of him being a version of Billy suddenly grown up. The villain is the best part of the film, he is going to step into fights before anybody else not needing anyone to help him. The story does try to bring us some heart with the ideas of just where Billy is in his life, between searching for somebody that left him or accept a family that wants him.
Action/Fantasy/Sci-Fi – The action is mostly silly over the top action we know DC tends to do, we have destruction of windows, fight scenes that just have people crashing through stuff along with some flying. The fantasy side of the film shows us just how the magic world can produce good and evil depending on which side of you soul you let think for you. The sci-fi element of the film comes from the idea of a new superhero being inside a teenage boy.
Settings – The settings in the film mostly use Philadelphia as the main setting, we haven’t really seen a comic book movie set in this location before.
Special Effects – The effects are a real mixed bag, the creature designs look brilliant no question, but certain flying scenes look like they came from an 80’s Superman movie.
Final Thoughts – This is a silly superhero movie, it gets the tone wrong by having a villain that is way to dark and a hero that is just too playful.
Overall: Just another DC miss.