We all have a superhero inside us; all it takes is a little magic to make it come to life. In the case of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), just shout a word – SHAZAM! – for the 14-year-old rogue to transform into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. A boy at his core – inside a buff, god-like body – Shazam revels in this adult version of himself doing what any teenager would do with superpowers. However, he will need to master these powers quickly to fight the forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).
Before starting the criticism, one goes to the media.
When Shazam! was announced, much of the media dropped a bombshell saying that Warner/DC was wrong to bring a non-premier hero to the screen.
And they were even more so, when the first trailer was aired stating that the film was slapstick and that the actor Zac Levi he wasn't fit for the role because he was too thin.
These same media forgot or never read, that Shazam! was always a character different from others, because he brought this comic side, often slapstick with his phrases like “Devil”, stupid mistakes that a superhero like Superman or Batman would never make. only, Shazam! make these mistakes because you are a child!
And today, luckily, they got the message and went to read some comics.
Now on to the review!
The Warner without a doubt it has shown that it is striving to make movies based on the comic book universe with quality.
And the proof is there Shazam! is a film that respects the entire base of the character and brings to theaters the fun and appeal that Billy Batson It has.
This appeal is because he is different from all heroes (if you want to go deeper, click here to know the origin of the character), orphan and accept that he is no saint. On the contrary!
Billy is selfish and doesn't think twice about doing something wrong - and putting it wrong - without thinking about the consequences. Like every pre-teen, Billy is right in everything he does. Only your attitudes are the right ones and if something goes wrong, it's someone else's fault, read the adults.
There are no consequences in his small, closed universe if he runs away from a foster home. If he runs away, what's the problem? He knows how to take care of himself. But those who were adopting him, should something happen to them due to his escape, they don't care. They adopted him because they wanted to.
This isn't really what's in the movie, but it's for the viewer to know how the character thinks. And how can someone like that become our Champion? Because above all, Billy still has empathy and even though he doesn't want to show it, he learns to create responsibilities and knows he's not really who he should be.
And because he doesn't consider himself a hero, he will become not a celebrity, but a true Champion.
This is the basis of any story, the famous Hero's Journey. And the Warner knew how to take this story in a simple and direct way to the screens. In addition, the character is not an adult, mainly rich and with many technologies. Is a child. And what kid hasn't dreamed of having superpowers?
Best of all is that we have an actor who plays Billy taking all the dramatic load of the story, while Zac Levi got the lighter and more comedic parts. For the unsuspecting, Shazam! he may only appear to be an adult, but he is a child. And now that he can and appears to be an adult, he will want to do everything they do, but not knowing how to handle the responsibilities, let alone how to do what he always said he could. And it's at these times that Zac shows all the quality of an actor without having to make faces and faces or slapstick to play a child in an adult's body.
We practically see the young actor Asher Angel, who plays Billy Batson in Zac Levi.
And speaking of the teen cast, Asher Angel plays young Billy in a way that we empathize with in the first few minutes of the film. Just like Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Freddy Freeman. The trio has unique chemistry, particularly Jack Dylan, as he works with Asher and Zac Levi. The weight is at all times on the young actor, who goes from comic interpretations to drama, in a unique way.
The villain, which is one of the biggest problems of any movie nowadays, is well done and we understand his real motives. He's pretty much any of us. Mark Strong was the right choice to play Dr. Silvana. He is serious in his portrayal without needing to yell or lower and lift his chin to show he's evil. Not even grinding teeth and grimacing. His character is imposing and could go unnoticed anywhere. Until it's too late and he blows everyone up.
This lack of classic-style villains is sorely missed. This has always been one of the strengths of actors like Michael Rosenbaum, who played one of the best, if not the best, Lex Luthor. It is the one that we will hardly hate, because its ideology is so strong, that we end up without realizing it.
Returning to the general film, Shazam! knows how to dose humor, because it is our day-to-day. He plays with the absurdities we make with our childhood friends, of experimentation and not taking anything seriously. Even in dangerous situations. And that during the movie will mature, not much because the movie will undoubtedly have a sequel.
The overall tone of this first film is about family. Not the blood one. It's the cliché of many movies, but life is a cliché! He looks for how the old cartoons and comics teach you something, show you at the end of the movie about…. "In today's history we learn...". Something that no current work proposes to do, because throwing heroes punching each other on the screen is cooler than showing that we all have a responsibility to others. That family is more than people around us, but where we feel good and safe.
Shazam! it's about accepting who we are and that true friends and brothers will always do what is needed. And Warners is to be congratulated for bringing this naivete back and the real reason we always look up to heroes. Because they are not just there to protect us, but to serve as an example of what we should be.
And let the curtains go up! To the next!