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In Shazam, teenage foster kid Billy Batson inherits the abilities of a powerful wizard in order to combat an ancient evil unleashed on the world.
Pro – Good Fun: Shazam is good fun. The creative directors of the DC Universe (DCU) seem to slowly but surely be getting the message that less brooding and more charm makes for more successful films. Shazam builds off of good solo films like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The result is an original tale about a fourteen-year-old foster kid who can channel magical powers by shouting the name Shazam.
Shazam has a lot of good influences baked into it, not the least of which is the 1980’s classic Big. My favorite moment of the film is an Easter egg anyone over thirty-five is sure to spot. Like Big, a lot of Shazam’s fun and charm comes from the juxtaposition of a fourteen-year-old boy suddenly turning into a thirty-five-year-old man while keeping his teenage mind. Of course, this premise is turned up to eleven by the addition of a host of superpowers that Billy and his new foster brother Freddy have to discover. It’s a fun, if unoriginal, premise, and the movie leverages it to great effect. The tie-ins to DCU are great too.
Pro – Child Actors: Movies about kids can be tough because they star kids. Many a potentially good movie has been ruined by the kids chosen to star in them. All of that is to say that the child actors in Shazam are great. Asher Angel must carry a lot of the load in the film as the star Billy Batson and does a great job. He never overplays the role and becomes quite compelling. Special mention has to go to Faithe Herman as Darla, Billy’s youngest foster sister. She’s delightful and will no doubt be an audience favorite. In the adult world, Zachary Levi does a pretty good job. He certainly is convincing as a fourteen-year-old trapped in a man’s body, and his comedic chops are decent. That said, when Shazam’s on screen it often felt like a guy dressed up as a superhero rather than the actual embodiment of Shazam.
Con – Family Unfriendly? There are plenty of small quibbles to be had with Shazam, but it’s a fine movie. The ending stretches a bit long and the plot is serviceable. It has some nice messaging though, and it’s an apt homage to all of its influences. My biggest issue with the film was the tone. To watch the trailers and see the marketing of the film, it is clearly positioned as a “family-friendly” super hero film. Shazam felt much darker than it was sold. In the first three scenes alone, we witness a horrific car crash, a run-in with the seven deadly sins in monstrous form, and a child being abandoned by his mother. Even some of the humor is actually meaner-funnier than funny-funny. It’s rated PG-13, and I’d suggest for most kids, that’s a solid guide.
Shazam is another good, solid film from DC. They seem to have their most success when they leave their bread (Superman) and butter (Batman) at home. There’s a lot to like here, even if you don’t know your Shazam from your Sham-Wow. Fly down to the Palms Theatre and see it today!

Full Service Westside