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Movie Review: Shazam! mixes humor and sappiness in latest DC installment


The movie “Shazam!” premiered on April 5, as the latest installment in the DC Comics Superhero Universe. It follows 14-year-old foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) as he becomes a superhero, gaining super abilities when he says the word “shazam.”

Billy initially uses his new powers for himself, performing feats of strength and heroism for fame and fortune. This changes, however, when physicist Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) obtains powers by joining forces with the Seven Deadly Sins, who promise him unlimited power if he only kills Shazam.

Director David F. Sandberg incorporated a playful, preteen tone without losing the action and high stakes of traditional superhero movies. Much of this was achieved by Zachary Levi’s masterful portrayal of Shazam, the adult hero Billy can transform into.

Levi expressed the boyhood mischief of a 14-year-old in the body of a 35-year-old perfectly, as in one scene where Billy tries to buy beer at a convenience store. Billy’s foster brother, Freddy, is nervous because they don’t have a fake ID, to which Billy replies “this face is our fake ID.”

Billy ends up stopping an attempted hold-up at the convenience store, and the boys leave with arms full of beer cans — which they immediately spit out.

These humorous scenes do not detract from the overall message of the movie, which is the inspiring, if not a little trite, message that there’s a hero inside all of us.

On his way to becoming a hero, Billy fully develops as a character, putting aside his selfish ways to defend the world for the greater good.  Dr. Sivana’s making-of-a-villain backstory, on the contrary, was not fleshed out at all with only a short scene in the beginning which fails to provide a real reason he becomes evil.

Still, the adept acting of both Angel and Levi carry the movie to its final form. In the end, “Shazam!” fully realizes its goal as a feel-good superhero movie. It satisfies the audience with a good watch, even if it might not be worth a second one.

Feature Image: Courtesy of National Review.

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Movie Review: Shazam! mixes humor and sappiness in latest DC installment