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#CrunchTest Movie Review: SHAZAM!

Updated: May 6, 2019

Disclaimer: There could be spoilers in this review.



To those who aren’t familiar, Shazam! is a fun, witty superhero character from the DC Universe. Mainly because he is a kid. Yes, you read that right!


The main character, Billy Batson, lost his parents at a young age and one day, he got accepted by a foster family. Albeit that, he still believed that no one would really care about him or had someone to rely on but himself. It wasn’t until he stumbled upon the wizard of Shazam and his life, as typical as it sounds, pretty much changed forever - being able to change from a teen to a full-grown adult by just a word, Shazam!


The film showcases Billy’s story and his discovery of his new ‘alter ego’ and his super powers.


Recently, our Movie Buffs had the chance to attend the premiere screening and here’s what they have to say:


What Isaiah Thinks:

Overall, What did you think of the plot of this movie?

A far cry from the dark and sombre Zack Snyder treatment of the Superman and Justice League movies, SHAZAM! is a rather fun and colourful origin story but one that doesn't commit and fulfill its themes.


It painstakingly presents the origins of both the hero and villain in the earlier parts of the film, seemingly for a deep parallel exploration of the similarity of both characters, only to be forgotten and shoved aside for giggles and feel good tropes.


It has its fair share of twists but outside of the twists, the movie can be rather bland (sometimes painful) with a mismatch of tonality from start to finish. SHAZAM! feels like one for the kids, in that, you have to look past the inconsistencies and banal sequences to actually enjoy the film. Nevertheless, it provides adequate laughter and silliness that you could forgive it for the inconsistencies but only by a hair.


What do you think of the performance of the cast?

Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman is definitely my favourite. I loved every scene he was in. Freddy works well as the comic relief and Grazer's performance was the only one that I felt wasn't forced.


While Zachary Levi's performance was great, I can't shake off how Levi and his younger counterpart, Asher Angel, appeared to have different personalities which made it very jarring for me.


Mark Strong is a talent underutilized in here, portraying a very one dimensional and boring evil baddie. He could've provided more. I'm not sure if this is just poor writing or directing but I felt his talents used in the way that it was is a grave sin and criminal injustice.


I'm sorry but Djimon Hounson's The Wizard Shazam character is just a discount Dumbledore crossed with Gandalf.


In general, did you think this movie lived up to your expectations? Why?

My expectations weren't great to begin with but was pleasantly surprised by Grazer's performance and the comical scenes. While it made me laugh, SHAZAM! has a mismatch blend of comedy, action and emotion so it was 2 hours and 15 minutes a little too long for me.

What is your favourite scene in the movie?

The convenient store scene when Billy and Freddy are just discovering the powers that his super hero form has. Plenty of jokes and references to superheros here.


From 1 - 5, how much would you rate this movie?

For me it's a 2.75. Not quite a 3 but not too bad for a 2. Is this rating even possible?

What Jordan Thinks:

Overall, What did you think of the plot of this movie?

While the film starts off on a slightly unpredictable note, preferring to focus on the villain’s origin story instead of introducing us to Billy right off the bat-son (sorry, I couldn’t help it!), it was a positive move from the filmmakers that not only allowed us to empathise with the villain’s motives, but also gives the rest of the movie plenty of room to focus on Billy.


The pacing is surprisingly better than I expected too - once Billy turns into Shazam & the action sequences were also thrilling sights to behold and never felt too tedious in its setup.


I ultimately adored the movie’s central theme about learning to define who your family is and sharing true strength and happiness. It’s a resounding plot point that will occasionally pull your heart strings as this theme is also showcased through many characters in throughout the movie.


What do you think of the performance of the cast?

Zachary Levi is the clear standout performance; the high praises that people have been singing about his embodiment of kid-turned-adult superhero is humourously believable.


Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy Batson’s best friend/mentor is also lovable character and surprisingly manages to match Levi’s excitement onscreen.


Don’t get me wrong, Asher manages to channel an astonishing amount of maturity in his role, nailing a lot of the emotional scenes he has in the movie, but I feel that his overall energy level and mood never quite matches up to the raw enthusiasm that his adult version portrays. The overall cast of kids however are still a remarkable bunch of young performers and I can’t wait to see what they do next in Hollywood!


In general, did you think this movie lived up to your expectations? Why?

As an avid DC Comics fan, this movie definitely met my expectations, especially in terms of Shazam’s portrayal! Director David Sandberg successfully hit the mark regarding the fun-loving tone of his character which in turn informed the overarching tone of the whole movie. I also loved the minor DC Comics references to the other superhero characters from DC’s lore which also infused an element of world-building into the movie.


P.S. The almost-cameo of THAT character at the end of the film almost had me falling of my seat with childish giddiness!


What is your favourite scene in the movie?

The “training” scenes that follow immediately after Billy Batson gets his powers and turns into Shazam. Billy, is positively stunned and confused in suddenly becoming a superhero and enlists the help of of his pal to help figure out his powers. What ensues is a night-time sequence of hilarious recklessness as the duo get involved in stopping a small mugging and even a mini-robbery at a liquor store.


From 1 - 5, how much would you rate this movie?

A definite 5 for me!

What Crystal Thinks:

Overall, What did you think of the plot of this movie?

An interesting blend of quirky humor, childish innocence and heart, Shazam! 's plot deviates quite a bit from your usual cliche-trope superhero movie, but doesn't forget the enthusiastic energy that is genuinely comedic.


While the movie started off reminiscent of DC's dark-tones, it soon becomes clear that the Shazam! sets itself apart from DC's repertoire of angsty, darker movies. With undertones of family, friendship, growth and just a little bit of magic, the story is a handful of comedy, a splash of teenage angst, and a whole lotta heart.


What do you think of the performance of the cast?

The actors playing Billy's siblings were cast well, each putting their own flavour in to their character, and adding humor to the banter. While they started off as background characters at first, by the end of the movie, each sibling has managed to endear themselves to the audience in their own special way.


Zachary Levi makes a great cast for a grown man who is supposed to act and behave like a fifteen-year old adolescent. He manages to play the part of an angsty goofball discovering a whole new wall through and through, being both heroic and jumpy as he learns the ropes of being a superhero.


In general, did you think this movie lived up to your expectations? Why?

As one who has not enjoyed past DC movies (save for Aquaman, which really was quite enjoyable), I was surprised at the ball of laughs Shazam! provided. The whole movie had an unpretentious air, quite unlike superhero movies of late.


What is your favourite scene in the movie?

While there were many memorable scenes within the movie, especially at the titillating final climax when all siblings came together, perhaps the most memorable one however, would be the scene where Freddy was helping Billy figure out his superpowers.


Unlike other superhero movies, this whole scene gives an insight as to how being a superhero, really isn't as easy as it looks sometimes, giving different take of how a superhero discovers their new ability.


From 1 - 5, how much would you rate this movie?

4/5.


P/S: There are two post credits. One, of plot importance and would perhaps, hint at future sequels. The other is more of lighthearted banter between the two foster brothers.

What Delton Thinks:



Overall, What did you think of the plot of this movie? Consensus: Lots of laughs with some heart; a generic plot and villain are redeemed by Zachary Levi’s fun performance.


This is a movie that’s light on its feet – it’s about as energetic and lively as its gleeful teenage protagonist, in stark contrast to every DCEU film that came before. It’s the movie’s cookie-cutter villain that threatens to sink the film – a typecast Mark Strong growling and grimacing away as another power-hungry villain bent on world domination; a trademark for the DCEU. The two contrasting tones don’t always work, but the light-hearted moments outweigh the routine.


What do you think of the performance of the cast?

A key factor is the dynamic between Batson and his foster brother Freddy Freeman; already droll as they bounce off one another, the more impressive feat is the retaining of that same chemistry when Batson is transformed into a superhero (Zachary Levi). It’s a testament to Levi’s infectious energy that he completely inhabits the role and becomes the same teenager that is now in the body of a superpowered adult. Angel handles some of the more dramatic bits as the younger Batson struggles with growing pains, but he pulls them off quite effectively.


All three actors make it work, and the humourous scenes between the two characters remain the film’s biggest highlights.


In general, did you think this movie lived up to your expectations? Why?

I could’ve done without the overt seriousness of the sequences featuring Strong’s Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. His methods of exterminating anyone who stands in his way do not particularly gel well with the giggles maintained by Levi and company. Though I understand Strong’s scenes make a stark contrast with Levi’s exuberant energy, I do not think this was the balance director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation) was expecting.


What is your favourite scene in the movie?

The best scenes involve Sandberg allowing his young cast and Levi to let loose and have fun – indeed, some of the film’s biggest laughs come from the “testing powers” montages and Levi’s commitment in playing a 14-year-old kid pretending to be a grown 30+ year old adult. The spark of joy can be seen on his face throughout – his inner child relishing with glee.


5. From 1 - 5, how much would you rate this movie?

3/5

What Kenny Thinks:


Overall, What did you think of the plot of this movie?

Being a typical cliche superhero movie about saving the world. Plot of the movie was somewhat predictable with minor plot twists. Going through a phase when the kid discovers that he is super.


A phrase kept popping up in my head; "With great power, comes great responsibility", of course referencing to Spider-Man. How it relates is how two young teenage boys have to learn how to be responsible and grateful for their powers, and to use it for a greater good. Definitely different from most DC movies, a good change I might say. I love how this movie puts out references and jokes about Justice League as well, perhaps hinting us that Shazam will join the team soon? ;)


What do you think of the performance of the cast?

I knew the existence of Zachary Levi way back to a TV series called “Chuck”. His dedication with his new physique for this movie is just, wow. His performance as an actor has never failed to entertain me, especially with a pinch of humor here and there. He is definitely one of those goofy yet charming actor.


As for Mark Strong, his impression for me was good ever since Kingsman. In this movie, he portray the villain perfectly, with foreshadows on the creation of a villain, to seeking power and vengeance.


In general, did you think this movie lived up to your expectations? Why?

It definitely did. It's unexpected joy for most parts and somehow, this movie makes me want to jump off the roof of a building and by shouting "Shazam!".

What is your favourite scene in the movie?

My favourite scene is when he is discovering what superpowers he has, especially the scene of the robbery in the convenient store. Zachary perfectly shows how a 14-year-old boy in a superhero body would react, just as how I would have reacted as well.


From 1 - 5, how much would you rate this movie?

4/5.

Let’s check out the overall rating for Shazam! :

3.5/5!


Seems like there are mixed reviews of good and bad. Perhaps its your turn to be the judge and check it out yourself too.


And if you've watched Shazam!, let us know what you think about the movie!


This post is in collaboration with 20th Century Fox Malaysia.


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