Thursday, April 25, 2019

Shazam! is a Pleasant Surprise

When watching any movie I ask for one of two things. Impress me or entertain me. The movie trailer for Shazam! was misleading, giving me the impression the film was going to be something scripted by Seth Rogen. The first half of the trailer looked intriguing and then, an immature juvenile in a grown man’s body suggested a terrible comedy. For three weeks I hesitated while a few friends recommended I check out the film, all expressing a common denominator: most of the film’s comedy was confined to the movie trailer. They swore it was played serious. And for the most part, they were correct.

Overlooking the deliberate product placement of Batman and Superman merchandise in the toy store where Shazam and Dr. Sivana exchange combat blows, the film provides a couple surprises that I cannot reveal without providing spoilers…. Needless to say Shazam! turned out to be the most entertaining film of the year to date.

The events take place in Philadelphia (avoiding Superman’s Metropolis) where young Billy Batson finds himself placed in a new foster home, makes a new friend, Freddy, and finds himself selected by the Wizard Shazam to be his new champion against the forces of evil. Now endowed with the ability to instantly become an adult superhero by speaking the wizard's name, Billy gleefully explores his new powers with Freddy, the latter of whom knows more about the superhero game than Billy himself. When the world is threatened by the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who was rejected by the wizard and instead accepted the power of the Seven Deadly Sins, Billy finds himself growing up and accepting responsibility quicker than most children his age.

The film is loaded with more in-jokes and pop culture references than you can catch in a single viewing. During the fight in the toy store, Shazam runs across and pauses a moment to tab a few notes on a giant floor piano/keyboard, an obvious reference to the movie Big (1988), in which a young boy also turned into an adult. Fawcett Central High School was named after Fawcett Comics, the company that originally created the Captain Marvel character in 1939.


If you are unable to acquire tickets to Avengers: Endgame this weekend, or simply waiting for the hype and crowds to die down so you can watch the three-hour epic with less than crowded conditions, I am certain Shazam! will satisfy your superhero craving this weekend… proving that sometimes we need to stop judging a movie by the trailer.

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