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Shazam! (2019) (blu-ray film review).

November 30, 2019 | By | 2 Replies More

I have to confess the three beginnings don’t make a lot of sense because no one is identified. The first choice by Shazam the wizard (actor Djimon Hounsou) doesn’t appear to be pure of heart. The young Billy Batson gets lost in a crowd at the fun fair when young and brought up in an orphanage, fleeing to look for his mother and getting tangled with the law over the years as he travels around the country.

Based on that criteria, I doubt if he would make the grade neither. Instead, he’s now turned over to a foster family. You do have to wonder why the police never found his mother or, vice versa, she never went to the police or looked for him. Granted this is explained later in the film, it doesn’t explain why she suddenly thought it was a good idea.

Ah! The first boy grows up into becoming Dr. Sivana (actor Mark Strong) who gains his own power from the same Rock Of Eternity. However, it is Billy Batson (actor Asher Angel), who finally comes to the aid of Freddie Freeman (actor Jack Dyer Grazer), who finally meets the wizard and turned into an adult (actor Zachary Levi) dressed in red with a white cape and an identity crisis and no idea what super-powers he has.

He returns to his foster home and convinces Freddie to help him find out what he’s been turned into. Billy Batson is now Thundercrack because of his lightning abilities. Captain Sparklefingers maybe. It’s always tough to get a name when you don’t know who you are.

Considering the petty larceny they do together, you have to wonder how Billy Batson was considered worthy. He’s hardly the brightest spark although in his adult guise he’s getting a reputation as a super-hero. Then he finds he’s not as powerful when he meets Dr. Sivana.

The rest gets too much spoiler. In some respects, they missed an opportunity to turn Father Christmas into Uncle Dudley but maybe that’ll happen in the sequel. Likewise, opening the various doors in the wizard’s cavern missed the chance to introduce Tawney Tiger, Saying that, all of this is minor quibbles. Despite the odd beginning, the rest of the film mixes comedy with drama but doesn’t understand the effects of inertia with moving objects and people.

In many respects, this is a variation on the film ‘Big’, except it takes a magic word to switch between them. Oh, even that film is referenced here. If you know your Captain Marvel family, it’s easy to work out who will gain powers and more than the original three. Considering its set around Yuletide, it’s not difficult to see ‘Shazam’ becoming the favoured super-hero film for this time of year.

Many extras but no audio commentary. ‘Superhero Hooky’ at 4 minutes is a limited animation of the big red cheese (something he isn’t called in the film) making excuses for his people to go off to stop a crime. ‘The Magical World Of Shazam!’ at 27 minutes goes behind the scenes of how the film was made. Zachary Levi didn’t actually audition for the key role. I think seeing what the statues are supposed to be doesn’t actually come across so well in the film because they don’t do what they represent. ‘Super Fun Zac’ at nearly 3½ minutes is the animated version of the booklet inside the case.

There are 16 Deleted/Alternate Scenes’ running at 37½ mintes with director David F. Sandberg commentary. Some were deleted for movie length or re-done. Oddly, the introduction giving the boy’s family name as Sivana made more sense than the one actually used, simply because we get the name. Quite why the wizard would think he was a candidate for being worthy beats me, then again, I’m still not entirely sure why Billy Batson was deemed worthy neither come to that. This is the DC Universe and loaded with super-heroes already. Maybe the candidate has to come from Earth which negates Superman but it isn’t as though there aren’t other choices.

Nearly 4 minutes of the gag reel is followed by ’Who Is Shazam?’ by nearly 6 minutes of comicbook history as given by cast and crew. ‘Carnival Scene Study’ at nearly 10½ minutes looks at the final battle and shows the capes are animated…mostly. It’s also fascinating to see what was actually real. ‘Shazamily Values’ at 6 minutes is a talk with family cast and comparing the transformed versions. I can also understand a need to do ‘Shazam! 2’ pretty soon before the kids grow up.

Overall, despite the odd beginning, it is a fun film to watch. Zachary Levi as the lead character is an infectiously funny super-hero who enjoys what he is until getting a beating by Dr. Sivana. I have a feeling this film will grow ever fonder with more viewings.

GF Willmetts

November 2019

(region2 blu-ray: pub: Warner Bros. 132 minute movie with extras. ASIN:

cast: Zachery Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dyer Grazer, Mark Strong,  Djimon Hounsou , Faithe Herman,

check out website: www.warnerbros.co.uk

Tags:

Category: Films, Superheroes

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (2)

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  1. Steve Fahnestalk says:

    Dude, it’s “Doctor Sivana,” no “l” in the name. You say “Sivana” only at the end of the review. You’ve obviously read the comics because you reference Tawny Tiger.

    I think that, given the way society’s changed since the ’40s when he debuted, this film nailed the lighthearted tone of C.C. Beck’s superhero.

    I liked it, especially Zachary Levi (note correct spelling), whom I thought was very appealing.

  2. UncleGeoff says:

    Hello Steve
    Now I’ve made the correction, people will wonder what you’re talking about. The error was more a slip of the keyboard. 🙂

    I read the 70s-80s Shazam title but I’ve relied a lot more on the back-up features of TwoMorrows’ magazine ‘Alter-Ego’ and the Shazam! book that I reviewed.

    Geoff

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