Shazam! (2019)
March 30, 2019 4:37 AM - Subscribe

A boy is given the ability to become an adult superhero in times of need with a single magic word.
posted by cendawanita (34 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'll join the positive word-of-mouth crowd. Zachary Levi finally found his superhero role. Very much a late 90s/early 00s kid's movie in the Disney vein, the above average ones. Probably the best one out of the (current sorry) lot over in that cinematic universe.
posted by cendawanita at 4:39 AM on March 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I will also add to the positive buzz. The whole family saw this last weekend at a preview, and it was amazing. Hit all the right notes. Walked the line with the "Captain Marvel" thing perfectly. I'll avoid plot because there's a whole lot of things I really didn't see coming, and the surprises were wonderful.

Go see it.
posted by mikelieman at 2:37 AM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Saw this on an early fandango weekend with my son and we loved it. between this and spiderverse it's been a helluva year for fun superhero movies.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:32 PM on March 31, 2019

Oh man, I had to leave this tonight with my daughter - the movie was way too scary, much scarier than I thought the previews had implied. Stoopid DC, she was fine with Spidermen, both homecoming and spider-verse, Force Awakens, Solo, etc but DC just can't resist making stuff needlessly dark.

The light parts of the movie were fine, but that just made the violence and monsters all the more jarring.
posted by smoke at 2:45 AM on April 4, 2019

That's really interesting. I judged Spider-verse to be too intense for my eldest, particularly the first Kingpin/Spidey interaction and the bit with Miles hiding in his uncle's apartment. The description from commonsense media sounded like there was some violent content but the intensity of it would be less. I'd already decided I'd also reserve judgment on this one till I see it but it sounds like it'll also be a future home viewing for the little fellow.
posted by phearlez at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2019

Yeah I was actually taken aback and rewatched the preview again this morning, but the scariness is not really hinted at in the preview. Also there's some language (not much but still).
posted by smoke at 8:22 PM on April 4, 2019

I don't think it was fair to parents to hide that the movie gets dark and scary, but I thought the shifts in tone worked really well for the movie itself. The way it goes back and forth between Freddie and Billy's silly goofing around and Sivana and the demons murdering people was really effective in showing that Billy is just a kid in an adult's body in way over his head. It let them do stuff with like the bus scene where it's pretty clear that even though he saved their lives, some of those people must have gotten seriously hurt through his carelessness.

(And when the bus seemed to fall all the way to the ground, I thought it was actually possible they were gonna have a scene like in Batman v. Superman where Superman where the bomb goes off and Superman is unharmed but totally failed to save anyone. It was a huge relief to see Billy had caught it.)
posted by straight at 9:21 PM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved that Billy actually said the thing I always want heroes to say to the villain. "Dude, your plan sucks. These demons are totally using you. Even if you defeat me, you're not gonna be a winner here."
posted by straight at 9:26 PM on April 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

Wisdom of Solomon or Philly street smarts?

I went for a second viewing. It felt longer and not enough, but I'm pretty sure it's because now that I knew the ending I wanted more of Billy bonding with all of his siblings and family
posted by cendawanita at 10:56 PM on April 6, 2019

Also this is really weird, the general release date even for Malaysia is this week, but somehow the chain in my neighbourhood mall got it last week (hence my post)? No wonder I felt like no one was saying a peep.
posted by cendawanita at 10:58 PM on April 6, 2019

Given the number of blockbusters that think the only way to raise the stakes is through massive destruction and an ever-increasing bodycount, I grew increasingly impressed by the way this film managed to ratchet up the tension while avoiding those tropes.
I think the only actual deaths were gur jvmneq, gur fpvragvfg jub gbhpurq Fvinan'f qbbe, naq gur obneqebbz. Nalbar ryfr?

I'm also really glad I caught this movie early enough to avoid spoilers, because I did not expect to see gur jubyr sernxva' Zneiry snzvyl until the sequel.

Meanwhile my inner-fangeek couldn't help squeeing at all the tiger references. How is it that no artist has drawn Cap'n Marvel & Tawky Tawny in a Bill Watterson style?
posted by cheshyre at 8:08 AM on April 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

These Fanfare threads are explicitly Spoiler Zones, so I think we can talk about the movie without ROT-13.

But to anyone who hasn't seen it yet, SHAZAM! is good and has some good surprises in it. Stop reading this.
posted by straight at 3:46 PM on April 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I was super happy to see the Marvel family. But watching the credits made me sad because this isn't the Marvel family anymore. They had to call the characters "Superhero Mary" and "Superhero Freddie" because DC has given up on calling Billy "Captain Marvel"

Marvel owns the "Captain Marvel" trademark, so DC could still use the name in stories but they can't use it as a brand on movie titles, comic book titles, or merchandise. Alas. If Marvel can keep using Supergirl's name (Kara Danvers) for their Captain Marvel, seems like DC could keep using Captain Marvel. But I guess at this point the "Marvel" brand is actually bigger than "Avengers" or "Spider-Man" or any of their individual characters, so it's probably hopeless for DC to think they could use that name for Billy and have people associate Captain Marvel with the Justice League rather than the Avengers.

Did anyone else think they were toying with the idea of giving each of the Lieutenant SHAZAMs one of the main powers? It seemed like Darla was focused on speed, Freddy on flying, Eugene on lightning, and Pedro on strength. Leaving Mary with...Wisdom? Courage? Endurance? Do flight and speed both come from Mercury? Maybe that's why they didn't really go there. Sometimes in the comics Billy's power gets divided between him and Mary and Freddie when they are all using it, and I thought they might do something like that here -- make Billy sacrifice and fight at a disadvantage to keep his family safe.
posted by straight at 4:52 PM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Billy sure didn't seem to get a whole lot of Wisdom from Solomon (I suppose you might count teleporting back to the strip club, given Solomon was said to have 1000 wives and concubines).

I've always thought "the Courage of Achilles" was sort of a joke given that Achilles was invulnerable and you can imagine someone using that as a dig to imply that he doesn't actually have any real courage (sorta like "the Generosity of Bill Gates"). It does seem like that's the only sort of courage Billy got for free from the lightning.
posted by straight at 5:00 PM on April 7, 2019

This movie definitely had the best jokes of any DC movie to date. Sivana monologuing to nobody and the "Say my name!" "BILLY!" were both solid gold. And Faithe Herman (Darla) was a complete delight every moment that she was on screen. Her smugness at letting her siblings deduce Billy's secret without saying anything was marvelous.
posted by straight at 5:05 PM on April 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I took my twelve year old to see it this afternoon and we both really enjoyed it. He didn't like the seven deadly sins because he felt they were gross, but that was his only big complaint. When the kids first followed Billy into the cave, I started hoping to see the whole Marvel family. It took bit, but I was really happy when it happened.

I liked Billy's evolution.

As the mom of a girl who came to us through the foster system, I loved the theme of found family.

Also, totally flight over invisibility.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 6:24 PM on April 7, 2019

I'd split the difference on the movie. I understand that maybe they didn't want to go with the old version of Sivana, given that it falls back on old nerd stereotypes that aren't that celebrated any more (and probably haven't been since the sixties, where we had Reed Richards, Peter Parker, and Tony Stark come on the scene), but this guy ends up standing in for Black Adam as the ee-vil version of Billy because Dwayne Johnson didn't feel like showing up to this particular party. (The best thing about Sivana was John Glover doing his Smallville Lionel Luthor bit as Sivana's dad.) Similarly, the Seven Deadly Sins weren't much of a much because I guess that, although we got heads bitten off, the producers balked at getting too literal with Lust (although Freddy has a funny line about that) and are basically just run-of-the-mill demons. So, we have Meh Villain Syndrome all over the place.

But the rest of the movie was great. Loved seeing the rest of their kids get their shot as Marvels, loved Freddy acting as Billy's sidekick/mike guy/conscience, loved Billy assuming that it would be cool to do stunts and take selfies for money (that dances a bit close to Spider-Man's origin, but it really does make sense given Billy's gotta-look-out-for-yourself roots), and I really loved the point made about your real family not necessarily being your biological family of origin. And if they didn't get to use the C------ M----- label, they had fun with "ZAP-tain America."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:10 PM on April 7, 2019

Also, former foster kid here.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 PM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, too, Gail Simone: "I loved this movie, I want to take it home and make it waffles."
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was a GO with those two sweet foster parents pretty much as soon as they started their banter in the van.

Also, regarding
...was really effective in showing that Billy is just a kid in an adult's body in way over his head...
once they showed the carnival, I thought for sure there’d be a Zoltar machine tucked somewhere in the background as a hat-tip to the similarities to Big.
posted by blueberry at 8:30 PM on April 8, 2019

They did get a Big homage in when CM and Sivana were fighting in the department store, and Billy steps on the floor-piano thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:34 AM on April 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Good point, I had forgotten that!
posted by blueberry at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2019

Loved it. The violence in the beginning was super gratuitous for a movie marketed as family-friendly, but I did think that it made the stakes feel very real and scary compared to a lot of superhero movies where you never worry for the protagonist. (They just could've toned it down a tad.)

I loved that the twists were surprising and yet made total sense. I loved that all the kids got to be superheroes, that was so fun and really elevated the movie. I didn't know anything about Shazam! coming in, and was super surprised/delighted. Also the "kid turns into an adult man" thing could've been really weird but was handled deftly - the 7/11 scene in particular. Great script-writing.

Lowkey I'm feeling some parallels with one of the themes of Us. It seemed like Billy wasn't necessarily a "pure soul," he just got the powers because of circumstance and was able to become heroic because he was given a stable family that supported him. Silvana probably could've been a hero too if he'd just been shown a little love and support.
posted by Emily's Fist at 9:05 AM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

The best thing about Sivana was John Glover doing his Smallville Lionel Luthor bit as Sivana's dad.

It's also the second time he's appeared in a Warner Bros. film as a rich executive who gets attacked by murderous imps in a high-rise with his name on it.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:32 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I liked this one way more than the other DC movies so far. It had the fun and playful aspects of Aquaman, and balanced with the darkness of Batman vs Superman, rounded out with the emotional punches of Wonderwoman. However it managed to stand out as just a great superhero movie with a good plot and really great characters. I still think Captain Marvel, the Marvel one, was a better movie, but this one was not far below.

I loved the reference to Big, and I really liked how all the adult versions really captured the personalities of the kids.
posted by numaner at 1:48 PM on April 15, 2019

Oh I had forgotten that Mark Strong played Sinestro in the disaster that was Green Lantern 2011 (with Ryan Reynolds). So I guess he's gotten a redemption as a proper DC villain finally.

He was also the big bag in Kick-Ass, but that was Marvel.

The man was born to play villains.
posted by numaner at 1:55 PM on April 15, 2019

Strong was also an excellent, if underused, villain in John Carter, which was a Marvel Comic back in the 70s.
posted by straight at 11:52 PM on April 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saw this last night. I think I read too many positive impressions of this beforehand because I was disappointed with it. On paper, there's no reason I shouldn't have liked this, but it just didn't click with me.

First of all, it felt way too long. The first half hour or so especially seemed stretched out for no reason. Unless you really wanted me to feel just how long Sivana's search was. In fact a lot of the movie seemed to drag for me. The lead-up to the carnival fight takes what feels like forever. The Wizard's speeches just go on and on. I spent a lot of this movie waiting for things to happen. This probably just means I wasn't enjoying most of the moment to moment interactions which were this movie's bread and butter.

So much exposition. So much! As an example I think we were told at least three times that the sins needed to leave Sivana for him to be vulnerable, twice verbally and once by action. This was probably so that kids could follow along, so I shouldn't be too hard on it, but too much exposition is a sure way to get me to turn on a movie.

There was a lot to like still. Strong and Levi were both utterly convincing in their roles. The foster family as a whole and the parents especially are just too wholesome for words. I liked the family dynamic and the relationships shown in the movie; the contrast of a loving foster family with both a troubled and an outright abusive biological family. All of these things just weren't enough to overcome the dislikes I had.

Couple of quick comments/questions:

Why not go all the way with the alliterative names for the foster kids? We have Billy Batson, Freddy Freeman, Darla Dudley, and Pedro Peña, but then Eugene Choi and Mary Bromfield?

While they weren't on screen for very long I got the strong feeling the actors playing the powered up kids spent a lot of time either with the kids or watching footage, because you could tell they had been working on copying speech and mannerisms.

I wish the superhero Pedro had a bit more heft to him. I realize they're all supposed to be "ideal" forms or whatever, but he could have had a bit more fat on him, I feel like. Less bodybuilder more Olympic powerlifter body type?

Billy finding his mom was just heartbreaking. It was pretty much what I was expecting, but that didn't cushion the blow at all.
posted by ODiV at 12:08 PM on April 17, 2019

Why not go all the way with the alliterative names for the foster kids? We have Billy Batson, Freddy Freeman, Darla Dudley, and Pedro Peña, but then Eugene Choi and Mary Bromfield?

I had the same complaint but you'll have to take that up with the original comic books writers
posted by numaner at 2:48 PM on April 22, 2019

Mary works out to be Mary Marvel when powered up, though, so it's more a question of when you want the alliteration to work. She was originally Billy's sister and had the Batson name so they either give her a B first name or alliterate with Marvel.

Eugene Choi is a 21st century creation and why he's not alliterative is sort of a mystery since Pedro Peña is of identical vintage.
posted by phearlez at 9:35 AM on April 23, 2019

also who names their asian kid Eugene?? every asian family that chooses to would name their boys with classic american names like James, David, Jason, Mike, John, and Kevin. Jason Choi, while not visually alliterative, is phonetically so, and would work well.
posted by numaner at 10:10 AM on April 23, 2019

That's hilarious to me because his name sounds perfectly appropriate but then I realise I'm basing against HK/Taiwanese/Malaysian/Singaporean practices lol (so maybe that's where his birth parents are from??)
posted by cendawanita at 5:37 PM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I caught this as an in-flight movie last week and really enjoyed it. Not everything hung together perfectly (I still can't figure out what Mary's deal as a superhero is supposed to be) but the good stuff was very good. Levi played the kid wearing a superhero body really well, with the right mix of "holy crap this is SO COOL" and "I have no idea what I'm doing, somebody help." I also managed to avoid spoilers so the appearance of the Shazam/Marvel family in their superhero forms was a delightful surprise -- I just assumed that they'd be saved for the sequel, because that's how it usually works in origin movies. If there's a sequel, I'm buying a ticket.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Finally saw this, and very glad I did. Nothing to add to what's been said really, other than that I enjoyed the way it was totally an eighties movie and that it's the best DC movie I've seen (though I've not seen all of them, and not seen all of the ones I've seen - there was a point in Batman V Superman where I just gave up).
posted by Grangousier at 5:47 PM on May 8, 2021

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