I’m just going to start this review by saying, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED SHAZAM!. Following the wave of success from Aquaman, another amazing superhero movie based on a DC character has arrived. Typically, I like to see a movie two or three times before declaring it as my favorite, or giving it a definitive ranking – but that is not the case with Shazam!. Without a doubt Shazam! is my favorite DC movie to date and one of my favorite movies in general.
For those not familiar with the premise, Shazam! is about a 14-year-old kid named Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who is a streetwise orphan. One day he is magically transformed into the adult superhero named Shazam (Zachary Levi). It is essentially the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, but with the additon of cool superpowers. If you haven’t watched Big, I highly suggest you do that before you see this Shazam! because there are definitely some scenes which pay homage to the classic film.
I’ll start off by talking about the cast because they are the reason this movie is so special. One of the things that really separates this movie from a lot of other comic book movies is the fact that the kids are actually the main stars. It was so refreshing to see a group of young diverse actors that actually had valuable screen time and their characters felt fleshed out.
Before I talk about the kids I’ll start off with Shazam himself, Zachary Levi. The DC films have always had amazing casting across the board, but Levi as Shazam was perfect. Similar to how Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool, Zachary Levi was born to play Shazam. I could honestly believe he was a 14-year-old kid stuck in an adult’s body. Of course, we cannot talk about Shazam, without talking about Billy Batson and Asher Angel did a phenomenal job portraying this character. Billy goes through a range of emotions throughout the movie and I thought Angel acted everything perfectly. He truly has a bright future as an actor, and I hope he and the other kids have a long future in the DC films.
I was genuinely laughing out loud throughout the movie and a good chunk of it was because of Jack Dylan Grazer’s, Freddy. He was the funniest character in the movie and surprisingly one of the most relatable. If you’re a comic fan you get to see the worlds of heroes and villains through a character who actually loves comic books and all things superheroic; Freddy even wears an Aquaman shirt, and has a bunch of superhero collectibles. His chemistry and banter with both Angel and Levi was one of the many highlights of the film.
Of course I have to talk about the supporting cast. They were essentially the heart of the movie and what really elevated it from just being another fun comic book movie. When I was younger I lived next to a foster home and always used to play with the kids. Seeing this film reminded me of them so much. Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans) played such an empathic and caring mother to the kids. One of the standout characters who I know you are going to love is Faithe Herman’s character, Darla. She steals every scene she’s in and she is absolutely adorable. Her relationship with Billy and the others is heartwarming because it felt like they were truly a family. Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand, and Grace Fulton round out the foster family and each of them were fantastic and had their own moments to shine. Like I said earlier, the future is bright for all of these kids and I hope they are around for many more movies.
I also have to give a shoutout to Djimon Hounsou! He was in Aquaman last year, Captain Marvel last month, and now he’s playing the Wizard in Shazam!. He is everywhere and I hope he continues to get more opportunities because he is an amazing actor.
Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana was also perfect casting. This movie kind of had a 80s vibe to it, and it seems like that had some influence on how Strong played the character. I think that was a great move to make sure it felt on par with the overall tone of the movie.
Although the tone is lighter than most DC movies, they do find a way to weave heavier subject matter into the movie, like what it means to actually be a family, and I thought that was brilliant because at its core, Shazam! is a family movie that happens to involve superpowers. While you’re watching the movie, it’s easy to forget that this is an origin story for a new hero. Sometimes origin stories can be slow because not only do you have to provide the audience with enough information (assuming they don’t know anything about the character), you also have to make the main protagonist feel like he or she is going on a hero’s journey. Director David F. Sandberg did a great job of doing both those things, while still making it seem fresh and fun for all ages.
This film is a love letter to fans of Shazam – from the story, to the costumes, to some of the easter eggs. If you’re a fan of the character, you will have a smile on your face the whole time and if you’re not familiar with the character, I can guarantee you will have just as big of a smile while watching it. Shazam! is a game-charger for the DCEU and comic book movies in general. It is an amazing family movie with incredible fight scenes, and great humor. You guys are going to love it!
Shazam! hits theaters April 5, 2019.