Movie Review: Shazam!

Movie Review: Shazam!

“Satirical in parading popular superhero tropes, and sincere in its representation of family values, Shazam! is an absolutely fun watch for all.

Picture this. A clean-shaven superhero in a ridiculous red costume with a gold lightning bolt on the front and a white hooded cape at the back, cowering in fear behind stalls in a supermarket and running helter-skelter away from the supervillain, who has a shaved head and a blue eye. Hilarious to the core!

Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! is DC Comics’ most light-hearted venture yet, telling the origin story of our superhero—a fourteen-year-old kid in the body of an adult having superpowers. Billy Batson has already run away from 23 foster homes in the past, and is actively searching for his birth mother from whom he got separated when he was five. Eventually, a couple, Victor and Rosa, takes him in their foster home and give him all the love he needs, but Billy isn’t too keen on fitting in. As Victor says to Rosa, “It’s not a home until you call it a home. It’s something you choose.” Billy’s new foster home has five other children, including his roommate, Freddy Freeman—a crippled nerd with a wacky sense of humor and an unending knowledge of superheroes and superpowers. Billy plans to run away yet again, but in the process, he is chosen by a wizard to become the ‘champion’ and fight the evil supervillain carrying the seven deadly sins. The story catches pace from here on, and the rest of the movie is fun galore.

Shazam! is for the adult in you as much as it is for the child in you. It takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, with irreverent humor being the recurrent motif appearing throughout the movie. Right from the first scene, where the child version of the supervillain meets the wizard in a Harry Potter-esque setting, you’ll notice that everything appearing on screen looks like it has been lifted straight out of a fantasy book. That’s the intention of the director. Well, itis not exactly a superhero spoof movie. It’s even better. The kitschy aspects of a typical superhero movie have been coated with a thick layer of satire, whereas it is in capturing the euphoria of heroic moments that Shazam! really sparkles.

If the humor is on point in every frame, it is largely thanks to the phenomenal ease with which lead actor Zachary Levi carries the intricacies of his character. The movie rides on his charm, facial expressions, and dialogue delivery. He and Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Freddy, keep you enthralled from the time superhero Billy befriends Freddy. The two check out all the superpowers in Billy’s new avatar, fight the bad guys, fish for the perfect catchphrase, and realize that superhero Billy has ‘verbally-triggered body manipulation properties.’ Basically, Billy can switch between his superhero self and normal self by uttering the word, ‘Shazam.’ He uses this ability to escape from the villain at several instances. Through all this, the director never makes you forget that Billy is just a boy, for whom beer tastes like vomit.

Strong family and community values are at the core of Shazam! There is a close-up shot of Rosa’s car that has a sticker on the bonnet saying, “I’m a foster mom. What’s your superpower” Touché. The anticlimactic scene where Billy meets his long-last mother and discovers his ‘real family,’ hits you hard. The movie pulls at your heartstrings towards the end. There is a scene in which the superhero and supervillain connect over a similar childhood of never finding the one thing they had always been looking for—love and affection. The supervillain himself, really, is just a scared little child at heart, as made clear in the opening scenes. But he gets to quip the funny dialogues too.

Shazam! is a refreshing watch mainly because the radars on humor, action, emotion, and drama are accurate. The director leaves no space for questions of logic to arise in the viewer’s mind, for the movie doesn’t attempt to take itself too seriously. Anything that could be deemed over-the-top is treated with laughter, in a way reminiscent of the Deadpool movies. Seriously, if the Santa swearing on live television at the end doesn’t get you cracking, I don’t know what will. When you’re done with Shazam! you won’t just remember it for the comedy, but for the 360-degree entertainment it provided you.

2019 is wrapping up to a close, and if you haven’t caught the superhero movie of the year yet, well, what are you waiting for?

Unlock your full potential, unleash your superpowers, and rediscover the child in you.

Say Shazam!

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