Shazam! Movie Review
Updated: May 5, 2021
"Give these people a chance, because that's what they’re giving you."
This review was made possible by the Shazam! Early Access Screenings hosted by Fandango and Warner Bros.
Shazam! will be released in theaters on April 5th, 2019.
Shazam! details the story of Billy Batson on his journey to find his place in the world. He's held onto the hope of finding his mother his entire life and has never allowed himself to have a family. Suddenly, his life begins to drastically change as he is placed into a new foster family and following a heroic act is granted the opportunity to become what every child has only dreamed of: a superhero. We follow him as he discovers what it's like to have superpowers, as well as a family.
Shazam! was directed by David Sandberg with the screenplay written by Henry Gayden. This movie doesn't hold to one specific tone, but rather opts to have multiple, with there being some very dark areas, and others balancing it and keeping it light with an unrelenting slew of witty humor. Although many comic book movies released in recent years have suffered from major pacing issues, this film seemed to go by very quickly, and the audience is kept immersed throughout the entire two-hour runtime, with no major drags after the first 15 minutes. However, this opening act is where the film seems to struggle. It is very difficult to grasp the path that the story is going to take, and by the time you figure it out, it has lost much of the impact that it could have had otherwise. Every scene was very well shot, with each moment feeling like it had purpose and power. There are plenty of surprises that will almost certainly excite any comic book fan.
What really shined through in Shazam! were the characters. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and Shazam (Zachary Levi) both had amazing chemistry with Jack Dylan-Grazer's Freddy Freeman. When Billy first gains his powers, he is in a scenario not unlike the classic "fish out of water," but with the help of Freddy, he starts to not only become more comfortable with his powers but with his new family as well. The rest of the "Shazam Family" is heavily underutilized, only having a few scenes each, but they each have a character arc that has a very satisfying conclusion.
The villain in this film, Doctor Sivana, played by Mark Strong, was very powerful in both strength and character. He has a very troubled past and feels that he is owed because of it. What makes this character so compelling is that at some points you start to wonder if some of his actions are actually justified, and not completely crazy. Due to the way he was introduced at the start of the movie, you feel well acquainted with Sivana even though he has had very little screen-time up to that point.