Review: SHAZAM!

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Now, before I begin, please let me say this. I am not a professional reviewer (or a wordsmith!), I am just a Superhero fan who has a passion for comic book mythos and storytelling. This “review” is merely my thoughts on the SHAZAM! movie, and why it means so much to me and so many others.

I have been very fortunate recently and have seen the movie twice in the last seven days and all I can think about is how much I want to see it again! When I first saw it I was under a strict embargo and could not talk about it and that was the one thing I wanted to do! I was allowed to share some thoughts online but not reveal plot details or give it a rating. 

Electric performances.

I created a thread on Twitter and this was really just for my benefit! I needed to vent and express how much this movie meant to me. From start to finish the visuals, the storytelling and the characters grabbed hold of my attention and did not let go!

So, let me break down this movie into some categories. There will be no spoilers! This film deserves to be seen by all and the twists and turns that happen in this two hour adventure need to be seen to be believed. 

All the trailers combined gave us about 1% of what the full film had to offer. I want this review to entice people to see the movie, not explain what happens. Here goes!

STORY:

Now, as we have been told for a while, this movie was going to be based on Geoff Johns’ New 52 story and I was over the moon when I discovered this. It’s a story that I adore and have read time and time again and was looking forward to seeing it be brought to life on the big screen.

Henry Gayden was left in charge of the screenplay and it was clear that he has done his homework! Even though it wasn’t a complete take on the story he was still able to make it his own and honour the source material at the same time. 

There were nods to the comic, and previous DC Comics movies, throughout and I was smiling and clenching my fists each time I spotted one. Some were obvious and some a little trickier.

For me, this origin story packed a punch and accompanied it with a heart-felt message about how we can do more together, than alone. It is a family adventure filled with action, horror, comedy and reminded me of so many classic movies which I grew up with. Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Superman and of course Big. When I first heard that this movie would be like “Big meets Superman”, I immediately became invested in it! A kid who gets Superpowers? That is what I always dreamed of happening to me and I still do!

DIRECTION:

David F. Sandberg has put in a lot of hard work into this movie, and it shows. Throughout the whole movie my emotions were as varied as the scenery. I felt excited, scared, funny, inspired and elated! This movie was an experience, not just an escape. I felt like I was in the movie. I have never really been in a theatre where so many people cheered, screamed, laughed and celebrated together. And this was just in the press screening! The fan-screening nearly ripped off the roof! Everyone came together to enjoy this movie and it made it that more special.

I was lucky enough to talk with the director before the screening. I passed on my thanks and admiration. I owe a lot to this man and I can’t wait for fans around the world to realise why. Sandberg brought elements of his horror background to a family movie and it worked so well. I saw some scary scenes coming and some made me leap out of my chair in unison with the audience! I will not mention much about the Seven Deadly Sins as they need to be seen to believed!

David F. Sandberg has brought this hero to life and has really done him justice. To see the original creators of SHAZAM! be credited in the movie (there are hidden references!) was a nice touch and when I saw Jerry Ordway’s name in the credits my fists went in the air!

ACTORS:

This movie has a lot of characters and they are all perfect! Everyone from Dr Sivana (Mark Strong) to Darla (the world will fall in love Faithe Herman!). The chemistry between Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Billy Batson (Asher Angel) was beyond perfect. I hope they became life-long pals as their road to friendship in the movie was beautifully told.

Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. Buddy movie masters!

Seeing John Glover back playing a strict father to a young Dr Sivana was so enjoyable for me. I adored his portrayal of Lionel Luther on Smallville and this took me right back. We didn’t see much of him in the role but what we did get to see was brilliant and it gave us some back story as to why this villain became the way he was. 

Mark Strong’s portrayal of the villain was perfection! He gave him a voice and brought him to life. I was able to speak with him before the screening and we talked about his time playing Sinestro and that he is very passionate about accuracy when it comes to playing these characters as comic fans have a strong connection to them. He made the role his own. Sivana soon became a classic villain which everyone loved to hate!

Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana. You will love to hate him!

Now, let’s talk about the main man. Zachary Levi and SHAZAM. I, along with many people, want Levi to be working for many years to come as he is a born entertainer. Combining charm with showmanship. I cannot imagine anyone else playing SHAZAM after witnessing what he brought to the role. Seeing him evolve as the character and become more aware of his powers and responsibilities was brilliant. He became more heroic as the story progressed but he did not lose his humour or electric charm.

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to chat with Zachary Levi before the fan screening and it was a moment I will never forget. His positivity for life is inspirational and that is mirrored in the movie. SHAZAM! is Zachary Levi and vice versa. Another movie reference! To shake his hand and thank him for what he has done for the character, and the DC Extended Universe, was a highlight in my blogging career and I hope to pass on my thanks again, maybe when the sequel happens…Fingers crossed!

MUSIC AND SCORE:

I adore soundtracks as well as scores and this movie has an actual soundtrack! Something that I have missed from previous DC Comics movies. There were songs that make you dance along and feel even more excited about what you are seeing. There is one brilliant scene which reminds me of one of the many ROCKY training montages and it was perfection. Since the movie was based in Philadelphia it was very apt. I really hope a soundtrack is released. My Spotify playlist has been on repeat all week and is helping me write this review!

Now, the actual score by Benjamin Wallfisch was as hard-hitting as the punches in the movie. There were emotional and scary moments and when the time came for SHAZAM! to step up, we got a classic fanfare similar to the 1978 Superman theme. Now, I don’t want to associate this with John Williams’ score as they are both very different but both these themes gave me goosebumps and that is something that I greatly appreciated!

OVERALL:

I am a fan of escapism when I go to the cinema. My phone is off, my worries are set aside and I get prepared to be told a story by someone else. I am not a writer, producer or director. All I want to do is sit down, get lost in a tale and be entertained.

This movie did that and so much more. When the movie ended the characters and the story took a piece of my heart and I don’t want it back, it deserves it. 

The child in me (who is still very present!) was overjoyed, inspired and excited to see Zachary Levi’s hero brought to life before my eyes and I now have an emotional attachment to this family adventure story.

I want to see it again and again so I can witness the magic of the story but also the reactions of the audience around me. On a personal note I am also very excited to take my Nieces Of Steel to see this movie as this is the first one I feel that they will truly enjoy and appreciate and for that I am very thankful for everyone who was involved with the SHAZAM! movie.

Please, see this movie and make your own opinions.

I give this film five lightning bolts out of five!

SHAZAM! will be released on April the 5th and I will be one of the first people in line to experience all of the magic that this film has to offer. 

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