There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Separated from his mother when he was a child, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has spent his life running away from foster home after foster home, all while searching desperately for his long-lost mother. Despite his best efforts, every lead has ended up being a dead end. His latest efforts have landed him in a new foster home, one that already has five other children living there. The foster family is an odd, but decent family. However, Billy is a loner who just wants to find his mom, and who is not ready to move on to a new family.
Billy’s whole life changes when he is summoned by a mystical wizard. The wizard has grown old and needs to pass his power along to someone. He has been searching for the right candidate for a very long time, but he needs to find someone who is "pure" and who will never use his powers for evil. That search has brought him to Billy. The manifestations of the seven deadly sins have found their way to earth and only the wizard’s power can stop them, but the wizard is too old and weak to stop them himself so he must pass his power along to Billy, who will then have to take on the challenge of defeating the seven deadly sins. Billy has acquired the wizard's power, and all he has to do to activate them is to say the word “Shazam!”
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Billy Batson (-4pts)
The Cast (+8pts)
Dr. Sivana & The Sins (-5pts)
The Home & Family (+5pts)
Pro: Shazam! (+10pts)
This was a fun premise. It was as if Tom Hank’s Big met the insanely popular superhero genre, and it was such a fun idea to see explored. It was a silly premise, and that made for a lot of really entertaining moments. Shazam was an incredibly powerful superhero with a variety of powers, but he had the mind of a teen-aged boy. With the great popularity of the superhero genre, we have seen plenty of super characters saving the day, but this movie felt a bit different.
Yes, Shazam was super, but his mind was that of a kid who was really enjoying having superpowers, as well as having a bit of freedom from an otherwise depressing life. We saw this character having a blast as he played with his powers, and it was easy for me to put myself in his shoes, and wonder what I would have done if I were in this scenario as a kid. Billy was having fun, which contagiously made the audience have fun. It was also interesting to see how Shazam’s power made Billy grow as a character, which was not something I expected to be done so well. It was a fun idea, and I enjoyed seeing how the filmmakers explored it.
Con: Billy Batson (-4pts)
On one hand, I liked the growth that Billy went through in this movie, because I enjoyed the role that superpowers played in that growth. On the other hand, Billy’s growth was incredibly predictable. The filmmakers set up Billy in a way that made his inevitable story arc very obvious. While Billy at the end of the movie was very different than Billy at the beginning of the movie, I saw this final version of Billy coming from a mile away. The events that took place were a surprise, but his overall development was a bit too predictable, which made it not very impactful.
Pro: The Cast (+8pts)
I liked the premise of this movie, and the cast was really solid. Zachary Levi did a fantastic job of playing this unique character. He embraced his inner child, which made the silly concept believable and really entertaining. This premise required a lead actor that could make it work and Zachary Levi absolutely crushed it. I honestly cannot imagine it being done any better than Zachary Levi did it.
I have not seen Asher Angel in a movie before, but I thought he did a good job of playing Billy Batson. My only complaint, which I feel like some people might disagree with, was that the kid version of Billy Batson and Shazam felt like different characters. I cannot pinpoint exactly what made me feel this way, and I do not think it was the fault of either actor, but I thought the filmmakers could have done better at blending the two versions of this character. That being said, I was able to get past this because of how much I liked both versions of the character individually. Jack Dylan Grazer also did a great job as Freddie, and as the two versions of Billy kept switching back and forth, Freddi was the constant protagonist throughout the entire story. The three main actors were funny, had decent chemistry together, and they made it easy to get invested in these characters. I have no complaints with the supporting cast, but the main cast was responsible for making this movie work as well as it did.
Con: Dr. Sivana & The Sins (-5pts)
The antagonists in this movie were very poorly developed. It was as if the filmmakers of this movie knew Marvel movies have been incredibly successful and thought that poorly developed villains were the reason why. Why did the sins need Dr. Sivana? How was it so obvious to other characters that the sins were just using Dr. Sivana?
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I am sure that the filmmakers had the answers to those questions, but if the answers are not obvious to someone who just watched the movie, then it is clear that the antagonists were poorly developed. It did not help that the sins were just evil by nature, which made them uninteresting, and they contributed absolutely nothing to the final fight. They also seemed to be a lot less formidable than they were earlier on in the movie, which was awfully convenient for the writers, who obviously wanted Shazam to have a fighting chance. Long story short: these characters were inconsistent, uninteresting, and underdeveloped.
Pro: The Home & Family (+5pts)
I enjoyed the characters that made up Billy's foster family, both the parents and the kids. The parents were comedic characters, but they drove home one of the main morals of this story. The kids in the house—other than Billy and Freddie—did not get a ton of attention, but they had a variety of personalities that were entertaining to see in the small doses that we got. The home and the family were the moral centers of this story. They symbolized and personified what it meant to be "home" and what it meant to be a family. It was not an all that original message for a movie, but I enjoyed the characters and the message that they personified.
Con: Anticlimactic (-4pts)
I thought the ending of this movie was somewhat anticlimactic. This was partly due to how underdeveloped the villains were and how the sins were conveniently less violent at the end of the movie. Additionally, something happened regarding Shazam that made the main character feel less special. It was not that I thought this decision was a bad one, I just thought the side characters—some more than others—needed to be developed more before going in this direction.
On one hand, I liked it because it was different. On the other hand, it seemed like something that should have been saved for a sequel. Did it ruin the movie? Absolutely not, as the ending was still fairly entertaining, but it made for a somewhat anticlimactic finish for me, because it diminished how important and special the main character was.
Grade: B+ (85pts)
I liked Shazam!, but it was not without its issues. The movie was unique, but it was also predictable. This was because the premise was unique for a superhero movie, but the story—Billy's quest to find a family—was one that we have seen many times before in other genres. Additionally, the movie's antagonists were very poorly written, with Dr. Sivana being a one-dimensional antagonist, and the sins being conveniently weaker when it was time to wrap up the story. This made for a lackluster climax, but the movie definitely had its redeeming qualities.
The premise was easily my favorite part of the movie, and it had a very entertaining main character. The idea of a child being put in the body of an adult superhero was one that the filmmakers clearly had fun exploring, and I enjoyed watching how they brought that idea to the screen. This was made better by the great cast. Zachary Levi absolutely crushed this role, as you will truly believe that the character was a superhero with the mind of a child. He was really entertaining to watch doing his thing, but the rest of the cast was just as strong. The movie had a fun premise, and the filmmakers executed that premise in a fairly entertaining way.
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 12, 2020:
This was a fun movie. We just watched it for a second time a few nights ago. My wife in particular enjoys it.
Movie Beasts (author) from MA on April 15, 2019:
This is definitely a superhero movie that both adults and kids will have fun with!
Thanks for the comment!
Cristina Cakes from Virginia on April 15, 2019:
Thanks for the review, I really want to take my kids to see this!