FlixChatter Review: Shazam! (2019)

There’s such a huge anticipation over this movie, and the early reviews have been giddily-positive. I have to say I was caught in a bit of Shazam! fever as well after seeing the second trailer, which promises a boisterous good time.

This movie is an origin story of the DC superhero that’s originally named Captain Marvel in the comics, but later renamed to Shazam! as Marvel comics held the rights to the name. I think Shazam is a more appropriate name for this given its whimsical, zany nature, though it actually started with a pretty dark sequence.

The movie took its time before we actually see protagonist in its superhero form. We see Billy Batson as a toddler getting lost in the crowd at a carnival, then later as a mischievous teenager (Asher Angel) playing pranks at cops. We follow Batson’s journey into another foster family where he meets his new friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer). Grazer is SO good here, I absolutely adore him as Freddy who gives equal levity and credible emotional weight when the movie requires him to. I feel like the energy level shoots up significantly once the two meet up, which only gets better after the teenage Billy gets his powers from the Wizard.

Now the movie’s MVP is definitely Zachary Levi with his unabashedly-exuberant, relentlessly-buoyant performance. I have only seen him in the first season of Chuck in which he also played an effortlessly likable, goofy character. But Shazam is clearly a role he’s born to play. My favorite parts are the superhero discovery process, when Shazam is learning the extent of his strength, how to fly, etc. Those moments are so hilarious, filled with joyful good fun. I mean who hasn’t dreamed of taking on the people who’ve made our lives difficult, so all the scenes of Billy taking on the school bullies are pure wish-fulfillment stuff. I also laughed the hardest at the references to other DC heroes, esp. when Shazam throws a Batman toy  at the villain screaming for his help. It’s even amusing now given his alter ego’s name is Batson (read: Bat’s son) 😉 What makes Shazam works is that he’s still relatable even after he gains incredible powers. He doesn’t suddenly gain a conscience the way a mature adult would and behaves in an altruistic way like Batman or Superman.

I wish the trailers haven’t given away some of the funniest bits however, but it also didn’t show some of the less-fun scenes, mostly involving Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Heh, even his name seems tedious. Now, I have seen the British actor portray a bunch of evil bad dudes, from Kick-Ass, John Carter, Robin Hood, even in the BBC miniseries The Jury in 2002 where he beat the living hell out of [pre-Leonidas] Gerard Butler with a baseball bat. I always think of him as a strong actor (pun intended), albeit that he’s been typecast, but here I thought he’s pretty weak. In superhero movies, it’s not enough that we have a formidable hero, we also need a worthy villain to make the movie works as a whole. I just think Sivana lacks real menace, so he ends up just being infuriating and worst of all, cheesy. The scene of him and the seven-deadly-sin gargoyle creatures wrecking havoc in a board meeting is perhaps my least favorite moments, which is a shame given DC usually gives us such terrific (even iconic) villains like The Joker, General Zod, etc.

I also think that the tonal shift from the dark scenes to the lighter, goofier parts could be handled better. Some critics have mentioned that this movie has scary moments that might spook young kids. I think I’d agree with that, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. Apparently director David F. Sandberg is known for his horror films (i.e. Annabelle: Creation) which explains the scarier parts of the movie. The screenplay Henry Gayden mostly works, as it has heart in the right place. The scenes with the foster family are genuinely moving. I appreciate how the movie champions the often ‘forgotten’ people such as foster parents & foster kids, people with disability, kids who are bullied, and made them the real heroes. It also shows a prayerful family who loves and accept the kids as they are, now THAT is rare to see in a Hollywood studio movie, but gratifying to see.

In the end, I enjoyed it for the most part despite the overly bombastic action finale that somehow many DC movies can’t avoid, and other flaws I mentioned. Shazam! is definitely better than most DC movies. Yes I know that’s not saying much given their track record, but surely the DC execs are ecstatic by this positive reception. Now that we’ve got the origin story out of the way, I look forward to what Shazam will do next in the inevitable sequels.


Have you seen Shazam!? I’d love to hear what you think!

A superhero movie I’d like to see: The Flash

I know what you’re thinking, we’ve got way too many superhero movies as it is, do we really need another one?? But let’s face it, whether we like it or not, Hollywood isn’t done with ’em anytime soon, and to be fair, some of them are definitely worth seeing. To keep from having superhero flix fatigue though, I’m being more selective in choosing which ones to see. Captain America? Maybe. Green Hornett/Lantern? No/Maybe. Batman 3? Heck, yes!

Well, the past few weeks there were reports (here and here) that the same three writers (Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim) who are writing Green Lantern, have done a ‘treatment’ (I’m guessing it means the initial concept?) for the speedy red guy The Flash, with the possibility of one of those writers penning the script in the future. DC has been quite lacking compared to Marvel in the past few years, with the latter generating a lot of buzz for their upcoming projects: Thor, Capt. America, Spiderman and X-Men: First Class, to name a few. Besides the big two, Batman and Superman, the only other DC comic-book character I’d pay to see the movie version is The Flash.

My hubby and I happen to be a fan of the early 90s TV series of the Barry Allen version (Wikipedia listed three other interpretations of The Flash) with John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays. Not so much because it was such a great show, but more of a fondness for the character itself, who got the extraordinary ability to run at lightning speed as a result of, what else, freak scientific accident. We think it’d make a great origins story because of the simplicity of the character. Unlike Superman, he doesn’t have a gazillion superpowers he has at his disposal; and unlike Batman, he’s not a rich, privileged guy, nor does he have the tragic, complex background to contend with. Now, I have no clue what Guggenheim and co. have in mind for the concept, but I just think that the story of The Flash doesn’t need to tread into philosophical territory or a dark, fierce tale of revenge. Instead, it’d be great if they make this light and funny, taking advantage of Barry’s befuddlement upon his initial discovery of his powers and his lack of control of his powers. Such as in this clip when he ran so fast he ended up running 30+ miles into the ocean with his clothes all torn up, or this clip below that shows his enormous appetite as his powers drained all his blood sugar, and how his speed might not work for house cleaning 😀 So in essence, more Iron Man than Batman Begins.

Over lunch a couple of weeks back, we actually had an extensive discussion about who’d be perfect for the role. Well, even just by watching these old TV clips, we kept thinking Ryan Reynolds (and we’re surely not the only ones). I mean, he kind of resembles the TV actor and he can tackle the goofyl, bumbling stuff as well as the action aspect believably. Too bad he’s already signed on for Green Lantern. Another one we thought of is already taken also, Chris Evans, who’s already playing Captain America. But come to think of it, physically The Flash shouldn’t be too buff, in fact, he should be on the tall and slim side. My hubby also thinks one possibility is going with a youthful cast (under 30), with the character being kind of a juvenile brat of sort, and he has a bit of ‘growing up’ to do as he’s taking on more responsibility as a superhero.

So with that in mind, we think these five actors can look the part, as well as able to pull off the playful, humorous nature of the character.

L-R: Lee, Adam, Zach, Hugh and Matthew


Updated 2/4/2013:

Out of these five, I’m rooting for Lee Pace the most. I mean he’s American-born, 6’3″ tall, lanky and gorgeous! Not to mention he’s talented and can pull off both the heroic and comedic side of the role. How he still hasn’t got a superhero vehicle to this day is beyond me. So yeah, Lee Pace for The Flash please, Hollywood!!


Well, how do you feel about The Flash movie adaptation? Any casting ideas while you’re at it?