Shazam! (2019) Movie Review - Cebu X-Geeks


Monday, April 8, 2019

Shazam! (2019) Movie Review

Directed by David F. Sandberg
Produced by Peter Safran
Screenplay by Henry Gayden
Starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou

I think it’s more than fair to say that DC Comics film adaptations of recent years have ranged from anywhere between underwhelming (Suicide Squad, Justice League being obvious examples) to overwhelming that by the end you’re just glad the whole damn thing is over (think Aquaman and Batman v. Superman), with just one so far occupying that sweet Goldilocks zone of “just right” (Wonder Woman, which, by the way, looks like it’s about to have some company).

Shazam! is arguably the first DC movie of the post-Zack Snyder era, with that filmmaker having not been involved as director, story writer, or even as executive producer here, and David F. Sandberg’s superhero debut with Chuck star Zachary Levi in the lead feels like the effortless recalibration Aquaman was supposed to be, and at the same time the awesome comic book movie-verse starter that Man of Steel failed to live up to.

The film’s “look,” its eye-catching cinematography, is distinct enough on its own, with the color red standing out multiple times, along with other shades of white, silver, and yellow that really set it apart from the more saturated Snyder palette. The humor is great (“lingaw,” I heard some in the audience succinctly put it), albeit occasionally relying on innuendos (considering the characters who blurt them out are teenagers), well-written and well-timed, and doesn’t feel shoehorned at all (again, Aquaman, I’m looking at you). The darker scenes (both in terms of lighting and content), though, in which Mark Strong’s villainous Dr. Sivana develops, may disturb younger, more sensitive viewers, especially those around the ages of the lead characters, fourteen-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), but they also allow director Sandberg to flex his horror muscles in a genre he hasn’t tackled on a feature scale before.

Zachary Levi is excellent as the titular character, as he’s able to capture Angel’s mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, and convey the confusion and fun any (American) teenager would certainly feel upon waking up one day a superhero. The rest of the foster kids played by young, diverse, up-and-coming actors are equally great and funny, but it’s during the film’s climax where they truly shine, and there’s an interesting twist in there that had everyone in the audience in stitches and made us go “Wow!” just seconds apart. Not many movies can do that.

Score: 9/10

About the Reviewer

Charles SanCheese is an avid reader, student of literature, and pop-culture vulture. He works as a copy editor in Mandaue City and has lived in Cebu his whole life. 

He has authored several essays, short stories, and lengthier works of fiction, all of which can be found in the grand annals of his personal hard drive. Follow him on Twitter at @charlesancheese.

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