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Shazam! Movie Review – Origin Story with Heart

Foster family kids turned superheroes save the world!

Apr 04, 2019
Shazam! Movie Review – Origin Story with Heart - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Apr 04, 2019
( Rating: 4 Star Rating)

Kidzworld saw Shazam! in IMAX. Will the origin story of an unlikely superhero both warm your heart and fulfill your craving for hero vs. villain action? Read our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

Shazam! is both a magic word and a superhero. When 14-year-old streetwise kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel who plays Jonah in “Andi Mack”) is sent to yet another foster home, he plans to continue his runaway quest to find his birth mom when strange symbols appear while he is on the subway and he is transported to a weird cave where dwells the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou). Shazam tells him he must take on the weakening wizard’s powers, morph into an adult superhero and fight off the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana who will misuse the power of the seven deadly sins to bring evil to the world. Is Billy up to the task?

Shazam! Trailer

 

Shazam powers upShazam powers up

Backstory

In 1974 young Thad Sivana is on a Christmas-time car trip with his older brother and mean dad (John Glover) who constantly puts him down. Thad’s magic 8 ball transports him to the Rock of Eternity cave where he meets a wizard who shows him the stone statues of the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Wrath and Sloth. The wizard is the last of a council of seven and needs a new champion to continue his magical work for good. Thad is tested for being pure of heart but he is seduced by the eye of envy and fails. Zapped back into the car, his dad gets angry when he tries to tell him where he’s been and a horrible wreck occurs which badly injures dad. The 8 ball then says “Find Me”.

Billy meets new foster brother FreddyBilly meets new foster brother Freddy

Bring On Billy

In present-day Philadelphia, 14-year-old Billy Batson distracts some cops so he can look up an address on their squad car computer. For his trouble he is turned in to child services and placed in yet another foster home. He always runs away, He’s searching for his mother from whom he became separated as a young child at a carnival. The Vasquez foster family is nice and consists of dad Victor (Cooper Andrews of “The Walking Dead”), mom Rosa (Marta Milans) and kids crippled teen Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Darla (Faithe Herman), Eugene (Ian Chen), Pedro (Jovan Armand) and older girl Mary (Grace Fulton). Billy has no more addresses and seems to give up on finding his mom.

Dr. Sivana is power-madDr. Sivana is power-mad

Dr. Sivana

Meanwhile, grown up Thad who has become research scientist Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), is pretending to research mass hysteria while really collecting the experiences of those called to the cave by Shazam to possibly take over his powers. Sivana is finally able to find the symbols that open a portal to the wizard Shazam’s lair and goes there not to take on the powers of good but to grasp the eye of envy thus releasing the creatures representing the Seven Deadly Sins. They are sucked up into dust and enter the Dr. through the glowing stone which has attached itself to his eye. He knocks out the old wizard and leaves.

Billy escapes bullies on the trainBilly escapes bullies on the train

Bullies and a Hero

Billy is shown around at his new school by Freddy who is his age. Freddy is obsessed with superheroes which semi-bores Billy but Billy comes to Freddy’s defense when he is bullied by two older kids outside later. He whacks them with Freddy’s crutch and runs into the subway to escape them. While on the train, weird symbols appear and zap him to the Rock of Eternity lair where the now ancient wizard tells him about Sivana and the released Deadly Sins demons and begs him to take on his powers. Billy reluctantly says the wizard’s name as requested and is pure of heart enough to transform into the adult hero Shazam (Zachary Levi). The wizard turns to dust.

Freddy records Shazam's power testsFreddy records Shazam's power tests

Let’s Have Fun with This!

Shazam returns to Philadelphia and after introducing himself to a shocked but totally stoked Freddy, the two decide to find out what superpowers Billy/Shazam has. They discover that Shazam can shoot lightning from his hands, has super speed and strength and bullet and fire immunity. Freddy posts videos of the trials that go viral. Shazam can also turn back into Billy by saying “Shazam” again. Further adventures include stopping a convenience store robbery and getting free snacks, charging random folks’ cellphones, zapping a teller machine for money, trying to buy a super lair, going to a strip club (which we don’t really see) and more.

Freddy and Shazam foil a robberyFreddy and Shazam foil a robbery

Sivana’s Revenge

At Sivana industries, Dr. Sivana barges into a corporate meeting chaired by his now crippled dad and his older brother. He ends up throwing evil bro out the window and calling forth the Deadly Sins demons from within to slaughter the entire staff including his dad. Learning that another has gotten the wizard’s powers, he must find and kill him before he reaches his full potential.

Sivana also has powersSivana also has powers

Superhero?

Next day at school the bullies begin to taunt Freddy and Billy again until Freddy tells them he knows the now famous Shazam. When they don’t believe him, Freddy promises them that he’ll get him to show up to lunch tomorrow. Freddy and Billy argue over Billy/Shazam’s new cocky attitude. The family tries to figure out what is going on between the boys. Next day Billy ditches school, goes looking for mom again, turns into Shazam and takes selfies with people for money leaving poor Freddy to face the entire school and the bullies at lunch when Shazam doesn’t show up. Freddy finds him and Shazam ends up accidentally firing lightning bolts which knock a bus off the road almost killing the passengers. He is able to save the people but Freddy reminds him that he caused the accident!

Shazam loves shooting lightning boltsShazam loves shooting lightning bolts

Sivana Vs. Shazam

The televised bus rescue is seen by Dr. Sivana who confronts Shazam demanding he turn over his powers. During their fight, Shazam discovers he can also fly. He is thrown around by Sivana, turns back into Billy and escapes but Sivana sees Freddy there and makes him take him to the Vasquez house. Earlier, the kids, hoping to make Billy feel better, tell him they have found his mom. She is nearby. The foster parents follow him leaving the kids home alone when Sivana arrives with Freddy. He traps the kids while Billy confronts his mom who is a loser who admits she basically ditched him. She was only 17 and couldn’t really raise him.

Sivana demands that Shazam turn over his powersSivana demands that Shazam turn over his powers

A New Confrontation

Using Freddy’s phone, Sivana calls Billy. He zaps into Shazam and flies home agreeing to give up his powers to save his new brothers and sisters. Will this happen or will Shazam be able to rescue the kids and defeat Sivana and his Deadly Sin demons? Will the foster kids also play a role in Sivana’s defeat?

Stay in your seat for a mid-credits scene involving Sivana’s fate and a post credits scene in which Shazam tries out yet another power…to silly results.

Shazam is hit by a Sivana boltShazam is hit by a Sivana bolt

Wrapping Up

Although Shazam! is a nice origin story with tons of humor and heart, it is way too long at about 2 and a half hours and could easily have been tightened if a few fight scenes between Dr. Silvana and Shazam were just left out. The fights repeat much of the same basic action over and over until we get a “been there, seen that” vibe. The lizard-like creatures representing the Deadly Sins aren’t all that original-looking and thus not as big a scare as they should be.  The humorous tone of the film sort of waters down the more threatening elements.

Shazam is an excited teen insideShazam is an excited teen inside

Zachary Levi does a great job of portraying a teen in an adult superhero body. Wow! What can I do with my new powers? Have a blast of course!  Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer do some nice work as Billy and Freddy and you can identify with their trials and growing friendship. The foster family kids make you root for them and for Billy to finally give up his mom-search and join them.

Shazam and Freddy have a great friendshipShazam and Freddy have a great friendship

Will Shazam! be popular enough to launch another film? Up to you. There are flaws but we think it is enjoyable and relatable enough to give it four stars.

Shazam! Movie Rating: 4

See Shazam! in theaters Friday, April 5th

Will You Back Shazam?

Will you welcome a more humorous superhero or are you just a Marvel fan who isn’t into anything in the DC universe? Are you a foster kid or know any? Do you think all kids could be heroes despite how they are brought up? Talk it up below or on your Kidzworld profile page!