When it comes to superhero movies, origin stories are the bread and butter for the genre. While the concept of seeing heroes get their start has been done excessively it has proven to be effective as the likes of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Iron Man have paved the way for many movies to follow this trope. Regardless, the origin concept remains alive and well as evident in the new superhero blockbuster: Shazam. Directed by David F.Sandberg Shazam is the next movie in the DC Films lineup and brings the iconic Captain Marvel (well DC’s Captain Marvel) to the silver screen. Despite the character’s longevity bringing this DC hero to the big screen would be no easy feat as the character is rather unbeknownst to most general audiences. In any case the movie has made its way to theaters and despite the array of superhero origin movies out there, Shazam proves that the concept has not lost its muster.
Shazam tells the story of orphan Billy Baston (Asher Angel) who, after an encounter with a mysterious wizard (Djimon Hounsou), is transformed into the mystical champion Shazam (Zachary Levi) and discovers what it really means to be a hero. Shazam is an origin story through and through. When it comes down to it the plot is about a boy who gains powers and learns what to do with them; and I think the movie handles that idea exceptionally well. Yet the plot expands on this idea by featuring a family based theme which only gave the story a matter of substance. Along with the solid concept and theme was the story’s brief lore of the wizard and the seven deadly sins. While this aspect to the story was briefly touched on it was still an intriguing element for the plot and could easily be expanded upon. The only issue I had with the plot was that the structure could be muddled in place; particularly in the middle. While the narrative was not off putting certain parts could lost in the overall plot. Yet despite this issue it did not detract from the enlightening nature behind this superpower tale.
If there was one aspect that shined through Shazam it was its cast. Zachary Levi was fantastic as Shazam as his charisma was perfect for a kid in a man’s body. Along with Levi’s stellar performance was Asher Angel’s solid role as Billy Baston. Angel’s performance was not just perfect for Billy Baston but it created a dynamic that both reflected and contrasted with Levi’s Shazam. Aiding both sides of the protagonist was the character Frederick Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). Frederick was the perfect supporting character for Billy as he played off the character well while being his own character; and Grazer had great chemistry with both Angel and Levi. Frederick was just one of the fantastic supporting characters in this movie. The rest of the orphans were great additions as they had plenty of character to them, and even the parents had a sense of depth to them. However a superhero is only as good as his villain and in this case it was Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. While Sivana did not have the strongest presence he made up for it with a solid direction and a great parallel with Billy. Any weaknesses the villain had became trivial thanks to the great performance from Mark Strong. It may not look like it on paper but this cast proved to have as much character and complexity as some of the biggest superhero ensembles.
In the case of technical elements and other aspects Shazam had a subtle, but effective, presentation. In the matter of effects the film was decent. Some of the vfx looked better than others but it managed to work with the movie’s bright cinematography. When it came to action Shazam was not the most action packed of superhero movies, but that did not stop sequences like Shazam vs Sivana from being exciting. Along with the action was the comedy and the movie had a good sense of humor as I found myself chuckling at several moments. The music by Benjamin Wallfish was fitting for not just the movie but the superhero genre as a whole. The main theme was particularly good as it featured a tune that was both uplifting and heroic.
Shazam is a superhero movie that is satisfactory and exceeded my expectations. While the movie may not be innovative it certainly knew how to use its material as was evident in both its storytelling and its characters. From its balanced tone to its stellar presentation Shazam was much a solid family film as it was a splendid superhero movie, and in this Film Adventurer’s opinion this blockbuster is a must see for 2019.