The Heart of a Hero: A Review of ‘Shazam!’

What truly makes ‘Shazam!’ probably one of the best movies that the DCEU has delivered is that it isn’t out to make any sort of legendary icon out of Shazam, but to tell an honest and heartfelt story within the superhero genre.

The trailer of ‘Shazam!’ is very misleading for me. It does well to present the premise of the movie — a young teenager in a foster home finds himself with the gift of being able to transform into the body of a superhuman adult, but still retain his teenager mind and soul. But the trailer led me to believe that this was all gags and that ‘Shazam!’ was all about having a good time.

I personally felt that the trailer was trying too hard. It was departing very strongly from the doom and gloom of the DC Extended Universe and taking extreme route that ‘Aquaman’ took and became all fun and games. It turned me off.

To my utter surprise, the trailer hid the fact that underneath the jokes and the comedy was a movie that was so wonderfully rooted in the character of the orphaned teenager, Billy Batson, and his search for something much deeper than thrills or superpower. Billy Batson is searching for his mother.

What any of the different trailers of ‘Shazam!’ fails to show is that the film is essentially the story of a young boy who was separated from his mother in a carnival and in pursuit of reuniting with her, has moved from foster family to foster family until he is given the power of the last of the mighty wizards, who are bound to protect the world from seven demons representing the seven deadly sins.

When Billy Batson says the wizard’s name, his body transforms into an adult with multiple superpowers but he still retains the mind and soul of a teenage boy looking for his home. With the help of Freddie, his roommate in the latest home he’s found himself in, he discovers how to use his abilities and discovers what it truly means to be a family.

Advertisement

What is so enjoyable about ‘Shazam!’ is that the film is unafraid to be silly. Like the main character, a teenager who is more focused on his own feelings than he is on saving the world, all the superpowers and heroics are really afterthoughts and just help in deepening Billy’s relationship to his foster brother Freddie and his own search for his mother.

This is not a conventional superhero despite the generous usage of super abilities and the presence of a villain, whose story parallels Billy’s own story in marvelous ways. ‘Shazam’ is more focused on its lead character’s journey into finding the pieces in him that he feels are missing, and the superheroics just happen to come in-between that search.

Zachary Levi does a fantastic job in playing Billy Batson as a teenager trapped in a grownup’s body. He is really just a kid with bulging muscles and superhuman abilities. He isn’t at all self-conscious and there is a lack of confidence or bravado that one would expect in an adult. His carriage and delivery is that of a teenager in a constant state of surprise.

But the true lead of this film is Asher Angel, who plays the teenage Billy Batson. From the physicality to the inner conflict of the character, Asher Angel serves as a wonderful vessel for our hero. He never plays for sympathy and he manages to display both Billy’s strength, innocence, and the purity of spirit that makes his a suitable champion for the wizard’s godly powers.

Sure, there are a lot of fight sequences and fun usage of superpowers. But what truly makes ‘Shazam!’ probably one of the best movies that the DCEU has delivered is that it isn’t out to make any sort of legendary icon out of Shazam but to tell an honest and heartfelt story within the superhero genre. Billy Batson and his search for a family is at the center of this story and it’s one that you can relate to and connect with so easily. Everything else is just a bonus — all the comedy and the superpowered stuff is just icing on the cake.

‘Shazam!’ is a truly enjoyable superhero film because it doesn’t take the superhero part so seriously. It manages to throw off the burden of being cool and edgy and manages quite a number of genuine surprises and character we can really connect to and root for.

My Rating:

Shazam! opens in theatres nationwide this Wednesday, April 3, 2019. You can now buy tickets in advance through ClickTheCity.

Recommended Videos

Related Content

Movie Info

Shazam!
Action | Fantasy | Sci-fi

Articles

Weekender Guide: What's Happening from April 23 to 25, 2021
Here are the virtual events, promos, and premieres happening from April 23 to 25, 2021!
TV Guide: Movies Showing From December 21 to 27, 2020
Here are all the must-watch movies on TV this week!
TV Guide: Movies Showing From November 16 to 22, 2020
Here are all the must-watch films on TV this week!
TV Guide: Movies Showing From November 2 to 8, 2020
Here's a list of all the must-watch movies on TV this week!
TV Guide: Movies Showing From October 19 to 25, 2020
Here's your guide to all the must-watch movies on TV this week!
TV Guide: Movies Showing From October 5 to 11, 2020
Here's your guide to all the must-watch movies on TV this week!
Shazam! is number one in the Philippines and earns P79.6 million in 5 days
Everyone in the Philippines couldn't get enough of Shazam, making Warner Bros.' latest DC superhero number 1 at the Philippine box-office!
WATCH: The Newest Trailer to 'Shazam!' is Finally Here!
We're a month away from the premiere of Shazam! in cinemas, and to keep every big DC fan hyped until it opens in cinemas, Warner Bros. Pictures has just released the newest trailer to the film! 
WATCH: Unveil a Joyful Superhero in This New 'Shazam' Featurette
Actors Asher Angel and Zachary Levi and fill us in Billy Batson and Shazam, their characters in the upcoming fun, family-centric superhero film.
Foster Boy Turns Into Superhero in First "SHAZAM" Trailer
If you want to save the world, say the magic word.  “SHAZAM” reveals its first trailer below and the film opens in Philippine cinemas April 4, 2019
Production Starts on New Line Cinema's Magical Superhero Action Adventure "Shazam!"
David F. Sandberg helms the ensemble, with Zachary Levi in the title role and Asher Angel starring as his young counterpart

Share this story

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email