Shazam! balances action with humor, thanks to cast

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Zachary Levi stars as Shazam, the titular hero and alter ego of 14-year-old Billy Batson.

Natalie Schroeder | Staff Writer

04/24/19

After its opening weekend, Shazam! earned its rightful place at the top of the box office with $53.3 million. With 168 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes labeled this movie Certified Fresh. The movie was written by Henry Gayden and directed by David F. Sandberg with a cast that brought humor to the screen. This movie follows a young boy, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), as he struggles through foster care and finding his mother. After being placed in a new foster home, he gets in a fight with two older boys trying to save Freddy (Dylan Grazer), one of the kids in his foster home, and is summoned by the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) to be named the “champion.” Shazam! captivated my attention from the very beginning, as it started out with a flashback.

The movie starts out showing the boy, Thad (Mark Strong), that would grow up to be the villain. Thad is a young boy in the 1970s when he is given the opportunity to be given the Wizard’s power, but his greed gets in the way. Since he cannot resist the Seven Deadly Sins, he is turned away by the Wizard. Thad then returns to his father and brother and grows up trying to find the Wizard and take the power of the Seven Deadly Sins for himself.

In a similar scene between the Wizard and Billy, Billy says the Wizard’s name, Shazam, and he becomes a fully grown man with powers. While this movie is a superhero versus supervillain film, it also centers around a 14-year-old boy who still behaves as such, even when he is the fully grown Shazam (Zachary Levi). After his encounter with the Wizard, Billy and Freddy test his new powers. This montage of scenes add humor to the movie as Billy is able to do things as Shazam that he would not be able to do as his 14-year-old self. It’s hilarious to see a full grown man buy beer only to spit it back out on the first drink, especially when Freddy does the same when he tastes beer for the first time as well.

Throughout filming the movie, Levi spent most of his time with the young actors to better play Shazam as Billy. This worked out in his favor, as I easily understood that Shazam was still Billy and his appearance was the only thing that changed. While it is the audience’s first thought that Billy should use his powers to save people, it is also understandable that a teenage boy would want to have fun first. Freddy plays an important role in Billy’s decision to save people from Thad and the Seven Deadly Sins, and it makes Billy think like a hero rather than a 14-year-old.

Overall, the movie was enjoyable and can make an audience laugh several times. The movie itself is sillier than other superhero movies an audience is used to, which separates this film from others. The actors themselves add depth to characters, especially Zachary Levi and Asher Angel as they tackle different aspects of the same character. They way Shazam and Billy both interact with Freddy in the same way shows that Levi and Angel worked together closely to have cohesive scenes. This movie has action, comedic relief and family love at its heart. Should Shazam hit the big screen again, I will be rooting for him to succeed just like I did in this first installment.

 

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