SHAZAM! Review (A Superhero tale of Soul, Heart, Action, Zeal, Adventure and just plain Marvelous!)
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury! All six attributes from legendary Gods of mythology, are combined in the shell of the World’s Mightiest Mortal-SHAZAM!
It's no secret that I happen to be a fan of this underrated and at times, unappreciated DC Superhero, and now after 10 years of sitting in development hell, its finally here!
SHAZAM'S cinematic debut, did not disappoint whatsoever. As soon as the film begins, we are treated to a prologue-providing an in depth character assessment of the main nemesis, Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong of Kick-Ass and Green Lantern.) and his future motives, who by fate, enters the Rock of Eternity, the realm of the ancient wizard known as SHAZAM, who is seeking his successor. But first, one must become worthy and spoiler alert, Thaddy didn’t make the cut!
Fast forward to the present where the mischievous Billy Batson (Asher Angel ) awaits being adopted by potential foster parents, while searching for his birth mother.
When he is finally taken into a Group home run by The Vazquez, Batson is reluctant to accept his new parents and siblings, until an incident motivates him to take a stand, leading him into the realm of the Wizard who chooses him worthy of being the new "Champion" by saying his name-SHAZAM.
With these newfound abilities, Billy has a lot to learn, like how to use his powers and most importantly, using his powers responsibly, while in the meantime, Sivana has his “eye” on the new Champion and will go through great lengths to acquire his powers and that’s the basic synopsis of DC Universe’s latest entry!
What makes this movie so special, is how it’s a great contrast compared to the current crop of Superhero films, that are often jam-packed with darker overtones, especially regarding the DCEU movies. SHAZAM is family friendly for the most part and isn't afraid to poke fun at itself thanks to self-referential humor and dialogue.
The screenplay and direction is satisfactory, and the performances by Asher Angel, Mark Strong and especially Jack Dylan Grazer with Zack Levi as the titular character is top notch! At first, I was a bit skeptical of Zack Levi’s casting but I am very impressed that he managed to pull it off by channeling the teenager persona for his role as the OG Captain Marvel and its great how the narrative is closely based on the Comicbook source material written by Geoff John's New 52 series, without too much deviation as in some arrogant Dude bro Director. *Cough*Zac Snyder*Cough*
Both humor and drama are well balanced without coming off corny or silly, yeah there's that "Hero's journey " trope, however its handled as connective tissue for the overall storyline. Billy's foster brother Freddy Freeman plays a pivotal role as SHAZAM'S Public relations partner as well as his "mentor”. The contrast and chemistry between Billy and Freddy make for a great dynamic!
I gotta admire Sandberg for putting plenty of effort into this movie, courtesy of memorable scenes be it Sivana's "Family reunion”, Billy's heartbreak or the fun training montage backed by Queen's "Don't stop me now" as the needle drop.
SHAZAM has a few subliminal commentaries, in terms of what defines family, isolation and the ol with great power comes, great responsibility and speaking of whom, this movie to me at least, is comparable to the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, quirky, dramatic, humorous and enjoyable.
The Easter eggs are practically all over this film. blink and you'll miss that homage to a certain Tom Hanks film that served as an inspiration to the SHAZAM movie.
While many are disappointed that Black Adam hasn't made an appearance, well sorta. It makes sense for Dr. Sivania to be used as the first villain logistically speaking because we don't need Dwayne Johnson over shadowing the spotlight from the other actors.
There’s plenty to look forward to when the sequel arrives. In the meantime, I highly recommend this movie which at the end of the day, is a true Superhero tale and a return to form as far as DC Movies are concerned. It may not be the movie some had hoped for, but it’s damn near the one we rightfully deserve!