We all have a superhero inside of us — it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson’s case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam. Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do — have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he’ll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana can get his hands on Shazam’s magical abilities. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Shazam! keeps up the strong footing of solo DC movies within the Extended Universe. It soars far above other superhero movies buoyed by a unique direction and story.” Zoe C. adds, “Shazam! is absolutely amazing. It’s entertaining, funny, action packed and engaging. This is maybe the best DC Extended Universe movie so far.” Benjamin P. wraps it with, “Shazam! is a refreshing, rollicking good time with some hilarious comedy and great performances. Shazam! has tons of superhero fun, but also has a warm emotional center.” See their reviews and interviews below.
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Shazam! keeps up the strong footing of solo DC movies within the Extended Universe. It soars far above other superhero movies buoyed by a unique direction and story. This is a must watch for all.
The story follows street-smart foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who turns into an adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi) by yelling “Shazam!” Courtesy of an ancient wizard, Billy revels this adult version of himself alongside foster pal Freddy (Jack Dylan Gratzer). Can he fly? Can he buy beer? Does he have X-Ray vision? Better yet, can he talk to fish? These scenarios are tested to their limits, but seriousness strikes as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) seeks to defeat Shazam and steal his powers. Billy realizes there’s more to this than jokes, but also a test to prove what makes a hero.
First, Zachary Levi owns it as Shazam with his natural comedic talent and physical prowess. He looks the part with his Godlike figure, while nailing the childishness with believability. The same goes for Asher Angel, who plays Billy Batson with the similar youthfulness, but nails his quieter heroic actions. The transformation is so seamless that you can truly believe the two are playing off each other. But, the cast’s standout comes in Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy who proved his talents in IT, but here he is even better. His conversations with Billy/Shazam are so improvisational and random and they just work. Every line of his lands. The rest of the foster family, played by Faithe Herman (Darla), Ian Chen (Eugene), Jovan Armand (Pedro) and Grace Fulton (Mary) are all incredible with each member having their own unique characteristics. I especially love Darla’s innocent goodness and happiness to have Billy around. Mark Strong, as Thaddeus Sivana, is a formidable foe with an apt back story. Still, I would have loved to see Strong saved for a bigger endgame.
David F. Sanberg’s direction is superb, especially for his first action movie after a variety of successful horror movies. He even flexes his horror muscles with some truly terrifying designs for Sivana’s powers. My favorite scenes are Freddy’s training montages as those are a true testament to the film’s sense of humor. Scenes like these are so unique in comparison to most superhero films. I also love many of the heartfelt moments within Billy’s quest to find family. I wish the film had a bigger budget to make up for its action scenes, which could be far-between and underwhelming. But, in a way that adds to the movie’s freshness, giving small scale looks at big fights.
The message of this film is that family is found from loving and genuine experiences, not in a word. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 due to intense action sequences, brief suggestive content and language. The movie opens in theaters April 5, 2019, so check it out.
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 10
Shazam! is absolutely amazing. It’s entertaining, funny, action packed and engaging. This is maybe the best DC Extended Universe movie so far.14-year old Billy Batson discovers, with the help of an ancient wizard, that he can turn into a Superhero just by saying the word: “Shazam!” But Billy is not just dressed in a superhero outfit, he also looks older and big!Converted into Shazam, Billy, who lives with adopted parents, goes home and tells his friend (or brother?) Freddy that he is Billy. Freddy loves super heroes and knows everything about them. Together they test Shazam’s capabilities and surprise: he is indeed a real superhero. As Shazam, Billy uses his super powers for good but also for fun.
I think Shazam! makes the cinematic world a better place. It is not just a hilarious comedy: it is about finding a family, making true friends and combating bullying.
The acting in Shazam! is amazing. Zachary Levi is the perfect Shazam. He has the charisma and humor to make this big kid an adorable hero. Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer also make this movie very engaging: they are not just funny but also kind hearted. These actors totally carry the film. I think all the actors in this film make it more relatable for younger audiences and new generations. I definitely think that this movie is a unique superhero film, because usually that genre is more serious with only a couple jokes. But this one kept me laughing. There’s action and emotional moments as well. I feel the amount of comedy is perfect and what makes this movie special.
The director David F. Sandberg surprised audiences as he is most known for his horror films, but this one turned out to be an incredible and enthusiastic production.The story works perfectly for the whole family, so I recommend it for ages 5 to18. I am a huge fan of this film: it made me laugh and kept me entertained the entire time, and the visual effects are very good. I give Shazam! five out of five stars.The message of the film is that we can all be heroes: it only takes a pure heart to have the power and strength to do good deeds, help people and beat the bad guys. Shazam! opens in theaters on April 5, 2019 so make sure to say the word and catch it in your favorite theater!
Benjamin P., Kids First! Film Critic, Age 13
Shazam! is a refreshing, rollicking good time with some hilarious comedy and great performances. Shazam! has tons of superhero fun, but also has a warm emotional center.The story line follows Billy Batson, a 14-year-old foster kid, who moves in with a new family. Billy gains powers from a wizard who chooses him to be his champion against the forces of evil. He can transform into a powerful superhero just by saying the word “shazam.” He and his foster brother Freddy test Billy’s abilities to figure out the extent of his powers. Billy navigates the ups and downs of being a sudden superhero, while also clashing with Dr. Sivana, who is determined to take Batson’s powers to rule the world.
I really like the performances in this film. Jack Dylan Grazer is good as Freddy. Grazer takes a comedic best friend and makes him much more than a one-note sidekick. Zachary Levi is great as the super-powered version of Billy Batson. Levi channels the personality of a teenager very believably. His performance is natural and I don’t feel like I’m watching an adult try to play a teen. Mark Strong hams it up as Dr. Sivana, but he’s still quite frightening and a real threat to the characters.I love the tone of this film. It’s never self-serious and, rather than making the hero dark and brooding, Shazam! captures its heroes and their powers with a childlike wonder. This film understands that superheroes are people who we can look up to because, even though they are flawed, they always aspire to do the right thing. I love the stakes of this film. It does not rely on apocalyptic proportions to make you care about its characters.
Shazam! starts as an origin story, but ends up doing more than that. Billy has always pushed the idea of family away and is more scared of accepting family than his powers. He has to embrace the idea of family to grow as a person and a hero. He realizes he can’t beat Sivana alone and what you gain from having people support and appreciate you. I think this arc is heartwarming and a great direction for this film.
I recommend Shazam! For ages 12 to 18 due to some violence and language. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Although this film sometimes veers into predictable and clichéd territory, I came out of Shazam! with a smile on my face and excited to see what comes next from these characters. I highly recommend you check out this film when it comes out in theaters April 5, 2019
Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.