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Edward Kivlahan April 10, 2019

From the very start, Shazam was exciting and thought-provoking. I rate it four stars. The screenwriting was tight, the comedy was rolling, I had mixed opinions on the special effects, and the character development was genuinely interesting.

To begin with what impressed me most, I loved the writing. It was clever and visibly thoughtful in every scene. From the setup of the villain, Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), to the setup of the hero, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), the motivations were clear. The villain’s motivations weren’t necessarily weak, but they could have been stronger. The setup of Billy Batson as the hero was strong and relatable, and that is what I expect from a superhero movie, but it went above and beyond that call. In addition to Batson and Sivana, each recurring character had their own moments and time in the light to show themselves and become more than background noise.

One of the main noises in the theater aside from the movie was laughter. The comedy was timely and relevant, as well as ironic and sometimes dark. Not only was Shazam funny, but it was not afraid to make fun of itself and its genre. It made fun of common tropes and expectations, and it had several gut-buster moments that kept it feeling light-hearted but not exactly silly.

Speaking of silly, I thought that some of the CGI was silly. The special effects as a whole were great, they worked well and had a clean appearance. However, Some of the CGI characters felt very much like a recycle of the villains from 2007’s TMNT. These characters felt cheesy and overdone, borderlining gross. Despite that, they were relatively minor and thus don’t hold back the movie very much.

As per character development, it rocketed Shazam forward and made the experience that much more enjoyable. Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) in particular was a strong presence in the character development. Not only was he a friend and confidant, he played some aspects of a foil. All of Billy’s family played some sort of foil role with him as well as the villain and that is one area where this movie really shines.

Overall, Shazam is a great example of a fun superhero movie that was very well done. Every character made sense in the narrative, the special effects worked well most of the time, the comedy was not only natural but also kept it from being too dark or too light of a film. In addition, the writing was clearly thoughtful throughout and almost felt like a tutorial in the filmmaking mechanism of “Chekhov’s Gun.” I loved watching it and I would watch it again several times. I rate Shazam four stars.

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