‘Shazam!’ subverts DC expectations

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‘Shazam!’ subverts DC expectations

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

By Aly Sadowniczak, Entertainment Editor

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“Shazam!” is one of the best movies we’ve seen from DC– which, unfortunately, isn’t saying much.

Orphan Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has run away from 23 foster homes in search of his real mother. When he finally finds a family that takes a real chance on him, he’s not ready to accept them. But when a wizard gives him superpowers and transforms him into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) with the saying of “Shazam,” he has no choice but to rely on his dorky foster brother to help him. Billy must come to terms with what a true family really is and take the responsibility that comes with being a superhero, all the while defeating the power hungry Dr.

Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) who missed his own opportunity to become Shazam himself.

Shazam! is definitely more of a comedy than an action movie, and even makes fun of the classic superhero movie tropes. However, some jokes fall flat, have been done too many times before, and are just overall a bit childish, which is definitely exemplified when we meet Billy’s new foster family.

Speaking of which, Billy’s siblings, besides Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), are flat and too underdeveloped for audiences to care and create a connection with. They rely solely on traits like cuteness to seek viewers’ acceptance. Since this family plays a crucial role in Shazam’s story, this aspect is too important to be glossed over.

Levi’s performance is excellent and believable as an impertinent and rebellious 14 year old kid who uses his alter ego to make money, seek attention, and buy alcohol. Never once do you get the impression that Shazam is an adult. As great as Levi is, Shazam feels a bit detached from Billy. Billy is a reserved and brooding teen, but, when he’s Shazam, he’s a lot more animated, over-the-top, and cracks jokes, something we don’t see from Billy in his normal form. Jack Dylan Grazer also does an outstanding job as Freddy Freeman, displaying realistic and understandable emotions as the disabled superhero fan desperate for recognition.

But Shazam! takes more hits than wins. It takes entirely too long for Billy to figure out his new responsibilities.
Shazam! seems to be DC’s version of the Marvel formula, finally attempting a lighthearted film after a decade of grim adaptations. There was a little bit too much comedy for my personal liking, leaving me practically begging for an action scene each time Shazam stands by and cracks jokes. When the little bit of action does come, it is unsatisfactory and disappointing.

As I think about the film more, however, I realize that this movie is really geared towards kids around ages 12 and under. Though I believe most children would enjoy this movie.

Some of the best movies are ones that can entertain people of all ages and backgrounds. This is something that Marvel films really succeed at; the balance between comedy, character moments, and seriousness have been perfected and provide plenty of different things for different people to take away from. But Shazam! seems to be a very one-sided story. Sure, it wasn’t the worst movie ever, but unless you enjoy sophomoric humor, this isn’t a movie you’ll be returning to.