Film Review - Shazam!

Shazam! (2019), PG-13, 2 h 12min - Shazam! has been out for a couple of weeks now (not including the early preview weekend), and after being delayed by much needed yard work, I was finally able to check it out last weekend.  I haven't had much time to work on my review, but I did want to get something written up on it so I apologize in advance for this being short and sweet.

I have very little prior experience and knowledge of the character.  As a matter of fact, the only Shazam! material I had read before seeing the movie was the story arc that Geoff Johns and Gary Frank did as backup features in Justice League during DC's New 52 era, and the first couple of issues of Johns' current run on the title with Dale Eaglesham.  Which actually turned out to be fortunate, as this film takes a lot of inspiration from Johns' take on Billy Batson and family.

Billy (Asher Angel) is an orphan who has bounced around from group home to foster family and back over and over as he searches for his birth mother (he got separated from her and lost while at a carnival when he was younger).  After his latest, unsuccessful attempt to locate his mother he finds himself placed with Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (Cooper Andrews) Vasquez, both former fosters themselves who have opened their home to a number of foster children: Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mary (Grace Fulton), Pedro (Jovan Armand), Eugene (Ian Chen), and Darla (Faithe Herman).  Billy is hesitant to acclimate himself, set on finding his real mother, but finds himself slowly beginning to care for the others in the Vasquez household.  This process is accelerated a bit after he is bestowed with super powers by a mysterious wizard named Shazam, that turn him into a super strong, lightning commanding adult capable of flying (Zachary Levi).  Billy finds himself relying upon Freddy's super hero knowledge while the two try to figure out just what Billy is now capable of.  Meanwhile, the film's antagonist, Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) - who had once met Shazam himself when he was a child - ruthlessly searches for a way back to the wizard.

This film was a ton of fun.  The entire cast was great, especially Zachary Levi, who was absolutely perfect in this Big (1988) meets superhero amalgamation of a story. It's mostly a comedy, but there's also a good amount of heart/drama with even a couple fairly dark scenes (mostly illustrating Sivana's origin story).  Even with my limited Shazam! knowledge, I am very excited by the potential for a sequel set up by the mid-credits scene that gives us a glimpse of an off the wall character. 

I have to be honest, when this film was first announced, I wasn't sure what to expect.  It didn't seem to fit with what was being done with the DCEU at the time (and it didn't).  But now that the DCEU is focusing on producing solo films as opposed to forcing the Justice League together too quickly, this is an excellent example of the kind of (mostly) light hearted, magic-filled fun that can be had in a super hero film that's not produced by Marvel.  I feel like with Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and now Shazam!, WB/DC is starting to figure out how they can successfully go about bringing their characters to life on the big screen, and it is very exciting.     


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