Shazam! (2019)

Movie Title: Shazam!

Year Released: 2019

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2h 12min

Genre: Superhero, Comedy, Drama

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writer: Henry Gayden

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Adam Brody, Faithe Herman, Meagan Good, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Ian Chen, Ross Butler, Jovan Armand, D.J. Cotrona, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews

Review: We all have a superhero inside of us -- it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson's (Asher Angel) case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do -- have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he'll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) can get his hands on Shazam's magical abilities.

Shazam! is a fun, fresh entry to the DC Extended Universe franchise of superhero films. Referenced before in several of our other reviews, the DCEU has largely failed to produce movies that can even sniff the commercial success brought on by its rival, Marvel. The DCEU has had a hard time finding its footing and has been criticized for its dark, ominous take on the superhero genre. In my opinion, their more recent entries have started to slowly transition into films that are more commercially palpable to the superhero audience. Case in point, films like Wonder Woman and Aquaman have helped aid this trend, and Shazam! is following in their footsteps.

This film is pure fun! And it has a lot of heart, as Billy Batson is your everyday teenage boy who is hell-bent on finding his biological mother. Eventually being placed in a group home with five other foster children, Billy slowly learns that family doesn't always need to be bound by blood. Once Billy is chosen as a champion by the last surviving member of the Council of Wizards (also named Shazam, played by Djimon Hounsou), all hell breaks loose. What else would you expect from a 14-year-old who's just found out he has superpowers? It's a fun, fast-paced adventure as Billy comes to grips with his super-strength, super-speed, and super-healing abilities while also battling his newfound super-ego. This poor kid has to juggle all kinds of important things like defending his best friend from bullies, passing algebra class, and saving the world from death and destruction! This film is incredibly relatable on a human level while also exhibiting all of the flair one would expect from a superhero named Shazam.

I'm looking forward to what's next not just for Shazam, but for the DCEU as a whole. There's reason for optimism, and all superhero fans should absolutely give this film a chance!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Originally, this was going to be one film with Shazam and Black Adam meeting and clashing, but the producers decided to split the film into two origin films for both characters, with Black Adam (2021) being its own story set in Ancient Egypt with other heroes.


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