This past Saturday, I was very fortunate enough to attend an early screening of Shazam! In addition to my film review, I have also included a snippet of what was inside the “Shazam! Fan Experience” that took place last week in Toronto so take the time to browse through the pictures and content shared with you today prior to seeing the movie for yourself starting April 5th! Note, I did my best to avoid any spoilers (comic book origins do not count)!
You really don’t know how long I have waited to see SHAZAM in live action. He is my favourite DC superhero and frankly, if I could ever star in a DC tv show, I would love to play this character. I was really excited when it was announced several years ago by DCEU and Warner Bros. that a film will be releasing but despite my personal connection to the character, I was still worried on how they can successfully portray this character onto the big screen.
Well, the trailer gave me some comedic relief (literally) and resurged my excitement for the film. However, if I am being frank, the trailer does not do the movie justice because I felt it was 10x better watching the movie compared to what I saw in this trailer. In case you missed it, see the trailer below.
The Promotional Marketing – The Shazam! Fan Experience
They’ve done a lot of promotional marketing for this film, and rightfully so. I know that some people told me that they thought the movie looks “corny’ or “silly’ based on the trailer so it was important to really promote the film and how cool the character really is. In London, they even recreated the carnival from the movie for the fans. For more information and details on what went down please check out my post here. For a video preview, please see below.
The story behind Shazam and the significance of family is something that really connected with me. He’s a superhero with numerous (and impressive) superhero abilities, but he can never achieve success until he learns to find the love for himself, especially in his family and for the others around (community). I also loved how in the comics a major requirement to be selected you must be pure of heart and avoid the temptation of the seven deadly enemies to man (Pride, Envy, Greed, Anger, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust). If you didn’t know Billy gets his power from a wizard and with the help of the rock of eternity, who chose him to hone the powers of SHAZAM (wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas (including his invulnerability), the power of Zeus (including summoning thunderbolts), the courage of Achilles, the speed of Mercury (including flight)).
I don’t think anyone will really have an issue with the storyline and plot for this film, and frankly, I wouldn’t think so since Geoff Johns was one of the executive producers for the film and the majority of the plot/storyline was inspired by his back-issue comics turned into a graphic novel. This is also my favorite graphic novel since this is the primary reason for why Shazam is my favourite DC superhero. It was that well written (Geoff Johns) and the illustrations were great as well (Gary Frank). Check it out below, and use this link to purchase since it’s currently on sale and I strongly recommend this book!
The casting of this film was so well done! Whether it was the bullies to the school security guard or even the mall Santa, each actor brought something special and memorable to their character portrayal, no matter how big their part was.
Obviously, Billy Batson has to be well portrayed and convincing to depict the hero’s youthful energy while being naive and confused when given these amazing powers. That being said, Asher Angel (Billy Batson) & Zachary Levi (Shazam/Billy Batson) definitely did a great job in this portrayal demonstrating their acting range in their respective scenes. However, the real scene stealer has to be Jack Dylan Grazer. He will make you laugh so hard one minute and feel utterly terrible the next.
Some notable cast members that you may be surprised to see in this film or might seem familiar to you are Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel, Guardians of Galaxy), Ian Chen (Fresh Off The Boat), Faithe C. Herman (This is Us), Ross Butler (13 Reasons Why), Meagan Good (Think Like a Man) and Mark Strong (Kingsman). You can see below the children from the family along with the father and Raven from Titans at a Toronto Blue Jays game last year.
The Different Elements
I’m separating this section from emotion and writing because the comedy element was such a big part in this movie and what really allowed the audience to stay engaged in the story and character development while not being focused on the two hours and twelve minute run time. It wasn’t just the punch lines, but the small actions the actors do that made the audience burst into laughter. It really was hilarious and the best part of it was that none of the jokes and punchlines ever felt forced which gave the comedy a natural feeling, especially the banter between Billy & Freddy (Zachary Levi & Jack Dylan Grazer).
I know I said I would do my best to not spoil anything but all I can say is that there are moments where you might feel like tearing up or in utter shock. It’s great to see that range and that a film did not need to rely so heavily on comedy (Thor: Ragnarok) to win a crowd but to allow the audience to experience different emotions (joy, empathy, sadness, excitement and shock). You can definitely see the chemistry among the main cast and director below when they were premiering the teaser at San Diego Comic Con 2018.
Check out this interview above from Comicbook.com to see what I am talking about.
The entire team responsible for writing this film deserves a special shout out. I loved how the writing and lines was a perfect for a coming of age film. If I was to compare it, my immediate thought would be to the likes of Boy Meets World. A sitcom that was mainly targeted for younger viewers who would later grow up with the cast and see the different experiences, hardships and decision making him and his friends would make with providing a clear filter or censorship that took away from the authentic story telling and message being shared. Likewise, I felt Shazam was the same way in the sense where they didn’t have any unnecessary swearing or childish lines and provided an accurate representation on how teenagers communicate as well as the way they think in today’s world filled with information and content they easily access.
Editing & Directing
David F. Sandberg did an incredible job directing this movie and his editing team did a good job selecting the best scenes to include in the final cut. A scene that best describes this is when Billy meets his new foster family as his new parents (Victor & Rosa Vasquez played by Cooper Andrews & Marta Milans) introduce him to his siblings and their unique personalities. The interactions they had with each of the children gave us a good idea of the relationship they have with all of them, and the interest to know more. There were other good scenes, Easter eggs and shots captured that were included, and although some might feel the begging scenes seems out of place I do think it was essential to understanding the character development and story later in the movie.
The last thing I wanted to mention was the special effects because it’s a vital part of this movie due to the fact that protagonist needs to change from 14 year old boy to an adult male with a matter of seconds and the main villains in addition to Dr. Sivana (7 enemies to man) are CGI. Of course we are not going to expect or see real thunder coming out of Zachary Levi but the special effects were done so well that it didn’t take away from the delivery and execution from the actors. I also thought the portrayal of the 7 enemies to man were well thought out to the point where it’s not too hideous or terrifying, but still intimidating.
Final Verdict and Score
Simply put, this is my favourite superhero movie of all time. Yes, I’m putting that above Black Panther, Dark Knight & Spider-Man 2. I do think everyone should know the story of Shazam and this movie does a phenomenal job taking it. My only wish or recommendation is that they had an original soundtrack, because the only thing I wasn’t too fond of was the choice of music because sometimes it didn’t align to what was going on and just too commercialized. Nonetheless, they don’t lose points on that because the music wasn’t terrible and it didn’t take away from enjoying the movie.
Final Score: 10/10 Must Watch: Yes Watch Again: Yes