6 Thoughts on Shazam!
The battle of the Captain Marvel movies is finally in full swing, with Shazam! showing up to deliver a nearly knockout blow to the Marvel counterpart. Which one is better? Hard to say. Both have their strengths. But I think I’m going to give the edge to Shazam! because it’s just so much fun!
Movie Rating: 9/10 – Great.
DC Comics has cast off the shackles of the grim and gritty Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice films and they have embraced the fun of their superheroes. They’ve also done away with the need to tie everything together, even though Shazam! has several references to the wider DCEU. I think that is a good choice for them. It frees up each movie to be focused on itself. And if they’re going to try to repair the damage they did to themselves, keeping things simple is the best choice.
It definitely worked for Shazam! Join me after the jump for my review of the movie! And be careful of FULL SPOILERS for Shazam!
6. I loved it!
Shazam! is a really enjoyable movie, and possibly my favorite of the DC movies. It’s lower stakes than Aquaman, but has a lot more heart and general fun. And it’s just better made than Wonder Woman, even if her film had a lot of character. Shazam! knows what it wants to do and pulls it off splendidly, focusing on the pure fun of having super-powers. It’s not concerned with any larger universe, it’s not telling some big, overarching story; Shazam! is just focused on itself — which is pretty funny, considering the movie is about choosing family over the individual. Shazam! definitely benefits from separating itself from the larger DC superhero movie family (though I did love the cameos).
Shazam! is a great time at the theater and a surefire sign that DC finally has their stuff figured out…hopefully.
5. The childlike glee is everything
I feel like I’m going to say the word “fun” far too much when discussing this movie. Because that’s what it is. Fun is Shazam!‘s defining characteristic. The movie fully embraces the childlike glee of being a kid who gets super-powers, and who then uses those powers to get revenge on bullies and become a YouTube sensation. The focus on childlike glee is what will set Shazam! apart from all other superhero movies, and the filmmakers clearly know that and use that.
It’s just plain fun to see Shazam and Freddie try out his new powers or take to the streets for some mischief and crime-fighting. It’s just plain fun to see them use the powers at school, especially that final scene where Shazam joins Freddie at lunch. There are other teen superhero movies out there, but teen Spider-Man is burdened by too much guilt and responsibility. Spider-Man couldn’t show up to Liz’s party to give Peter and Ned a high five in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and he couldn’t show up for very good, very important character-based reasons. But Billy Batson and Shazam don’t have those reasons, and the movie is free to indulge in the childlike fun of using your super-powers just a little bit selfishly.
4. Zachary Levi won me over
My one overwhelming concern with Shazam! heading into the movie was buying Zachary Levi as the Big Red Cheese. Zach’s not a muscly guy, which is usually how Shazam is portrayed. Plus, well…I dunno. I just have a problem seeing Zachary Levi disappear into a role. I only ever see Zachary Levi. And that’s what I saw in the trailers.
I loved Levi in the TV show Chuck. For the first three seasons, Chuck was my favorite show on television. But then it got bad. Real bad. Chuck went off the rails and broke my heart. I have yet to watch the last season of my one-time favorite show on TV. And afterwards, Zachary Levi was always just Zachary Levi to me. When he was cast as Fandral in the Thor movie sequels, I only saw Levi. And for every trailer for Shazam!, I only saw Levi. But in the actual movie, he was Shazam and he was great!
Maybe I should give Chuck another try…
3. The Foster Shazamily was everything
The big event at the end of the film was spoiled for me several months ago, which is always sad. I saw the action figures for all of the foster siblings in their super-suits, and I fondly remember the moment in the comics where they get their powers, so I naturally assumed that’s how the movie would end. It did…and it was awesome! Spoilers shmoilers, that was a great scene and made for an even better climax! They were adorable and fun as kids, and they were pretty darn awesome as adult superheroes! They also added a nice splash of color to the nighttime climax.
Those kids, and that whole foster family dynamic, made the film for me. Zachary Levi was entertaining as Shazam, sure, but this film had a really strong family message and some really entertaining characters to round everything out.
2. Dr. Sivana did his job
I didn’t particularly care for Dr. Sivana as a villain, but he fulfilled his super-villain role well enough. I get the reasoning here. Shazam’s obvious villain is Black Adam, but DC is doing this whole thing with The Rock, so he was off the table. After him, Shazam’s only memorable villains are Mr. Mind (who got an awesome cameo!) and Dr. Sivana…who is a dopey, shrimpy mad scientist in the comics. So I can totally understand the reasoning in beefing up Sivana into someone more threatening for the film. I just don’t think they went far enough. In a movie with a hero this colorful, I think they could have made Sivana a bit more colorful. Instead, he just goes by the name “Thad Sivana” and wears casual black clothing. And the Seven Deadly Sins are just generic-looking demons. It’s nice that they gave Sivana an interesting back story, but they didn’t make him very interesting in general.
But like I said, he did his job as a threatening, menacing villain for Shazam and the crew to punch. So that’s good enough.
1. Bring on The Rock!
It’ll have to do for now, until The Rock shows up to kick Shazam’s butt! I still think this Black Adam movie is a silly idea, but with The Rock as the star, I suppose anything is possible. Shazam! is going to turn out to be mildly successful, if not really successful. So maybe the Black Adam movie can ride those coattails as a pseudo-sequel, then both characters can come together in a “crossover” film. That would be a really interesting way to make this happen, and one I would completely support. Let’s see if DC can pull it off!