written by David Steffen

Shazam! is a superhero action/comedy movie released in April 2019, distributed by Warner Bros Pictures, based on the DC Comics character first seen in 1939.

In 1974, a boy named Thaddeus Sivana (Ethan Pugiotto) is inexplicably transported to the home of a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who says he is looking for someone pure of heart to take over his duty to protect the world from the embodiment of the seven deadly sins who are imprisoned in statues in that place. The old man finds Thaddeus wanting and sends him back with nothing. For the next several decades, the wizard continues his search, finding no one who meets his criteria and an adult Thaddeus (Mark Strong) completes his lifelong quest to find the wizard again and free the seven deadly sins.

Meanwhile, in the modern day, 13 year old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a runaway foster kid on a quest to find his mother from whom he was separated when he was small. He has been bouncing from foster home to foster home for quite some time and has no intention of settling anywhere until he finds his mom.

He is assigned to a foster home run by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans) with five other foster siblings, including Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) who is a superhero fanatic in a world that actually has superheroes (he has a bullet that hit Superman). Determined to stay aloof from his new foster family as he prepares to make his next break for it, Billy is magically transported (as Thaddeus was decades before) to the home of the wizard, who finds Billy worthy and grants him immense magical powers by saying the wizard’s name: “Shazam!”. He finds himself back in normalcy, except that the magical powers have changed him into a muscular grown-up body (Zachary Levi) in a permanent superhero costume with magical powers that he doesn’t know how to control yet. Driven to desperation by this turn of events, he returns to the foster home to recruit Freddy’s help, and Freddy is happy to contribute to this new superhero’s origin story.

I have generally preferred Marvel movies to DC movies and the biggest reason for that is that it seems like most recent DC movies (certainly with some exceptions) have focused entirely on the brooding and the dark, while Marvel movies seem to have figured out how to strike a balance between darkness and light. This movie, to me, shows me that DC can do that mix really well when they get the right talent behind the movies. There were quite a few darker moments, while the movie in general is pretty light some of the scenes with the villain and his crew of sins are likely to give some kids nightmares if they see it, much of the movie is about the growing friendship between Billy/Shazam and Freddy as they document and explore Shazam’s superpowers, and about the rest of the foster family. The movie does a good job with action, but what really makes it is the friendships and the family and the fun and love that comes from that.

Great movie, really enjoyed it, solid acting all around, great writing, there are a few parts that might be too scary for young kids. I highly recommend it.

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David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

One thought on “MOVIE REVIEW: Shazam!”

  1. Yes! I loved this movie, but I feel like it’s really been under-rated and under-appreciated out there, so it’s cool to see such a positive review. 😀

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