David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out) directs New Line Cinema’s Shazam!, the origin story that stars Zachary Levi (TV’s Chuck, Tangled) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Mark Strong (Kingsman, The Imitation Game) in the role of DC Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and Asher Angel (Andi Mack, Driven to Dance) as Billy Batson.
Shazam! also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (IT, Beautiful Boy) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, and OscarÒ nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians Of The Galaxy) as the Wizard. The cast also includes Faithe Herman (TV’s This is Us), Grace Fulton (Annabelle: Creation), Ian Chen (TV’s Fresh Off the Boat), Jovan Armand (TV’s Hawaii Five-0, TV’s The Middle), Marta Milans (TV’s Killer Women, TV’s The Pier) and Cooper Andrews (Den of Thieves, TV’s The Walking Dead).
Firmly set in the world of DC Super Heroes, but with his own distinctly fun, family-centric tone, the screenplay is by Henry Gayden and story is by Gayden and Darren Lemke, based on characters from DC. Shazam was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck. Jeffrey Chernov, Christopher Godsick, Walter Hamada, Geoff Johns, Adam Schlagman, Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia and Dwayne Johnson served as executive producers.
Sandberg’s creative team included his Annabelle: Creation director of photography Maxime Alexandre, production designer Jennifer Spence, editor Michel Aller and costume designer Leah Butler. The music is by Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner 2049, IT, Annabelle: Creation).
Jam packed with over 90 minutes of exclusive and never before seen content and perfect for a summer with family and fun, Shazam! will be available to own on DVD, Blu-rayTM, 3D Blu-rayTM, 4K Ultra HD and 4K Steelbook from 12th August and will be available on Digital Download from 29th July.
DVD ELEMENTS Shazam! DVD ELEMENTS
• Who is Shazam?
BLU-RAY TM, 3D BLU-RAY TM, 4K ULTRA HD & 4K STEELBOOK ELEMENTS
Shazam! DVD, Blu-ray TM, 3D Blu-ray TM and 4K Ultra HD 4K contain the following special features:
• Shazam! Motion Comic
• The Magical World Of Shazam!
• Shazam’s Test Footage – Outtakes/Extended • SuperFun Zac
• Scene Breakdown: The Carnival Showdown • Shazamily Values
• Who is Shazam? • Deleted Scenes • Gag Reel
• Meet Shazam
DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS Shazam! iTunes Exclusive
• Director’s Commentary Exclusive with David Sandberg • Shazam App Activation
Okay I want you all to be honest, who left the cinema singing “Hands, lightning with my hands, lighting with my hands” to the rocky theme music after seeing Shazam!? Yep thought so I did too! Shazam! was a spring critical and audience hit in the cinema and scoring a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I consider it now to be my favourite of the recent DCEU movies.
Hall H representation at San Diego Comic Con July 2018 was a joy to watch and wait for the Shazam! trailer to drop. Admittedly the AquaMan trailer was probably the most anticipated as it was the next DCU movie to be released. Shazam! teaser trailer genuinely had me excited and I was happy to board the hype train. Eager to know more about the titular superhero I binge read 50% of the Captain Marvel (previous name) and Shazam! comics to get a better understanding of this joyous hero. I knew Shazam! would be a different kind of DC movie that would explore the comedy, family, magic and it is bursting with heart felt real moments. The adaptation of the story taken from Geoff Johns new 52 graphic novel was a brilliant way to start telling this origin story.
First of all I have to congratulate Warner Bros they kept so many surprises for the movie and secondly for all the bloggers and lucky people who got to see it at preview screenings ever revealing spoilers.
Shazam! really is a film of three solid acts. The film opens with the backstory of our villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana as a young boy travelling with his father and older brother to his grandparents for Christmas. What makes Mark Strong’s Dr. Sivana a great villain he becomes obsessed when he summoned to The Rock of Eternity as a child. The wizard Shazam! (Djimon Hounsou) wants to pass on his powers to a new champion. Young Thaddeus (Ethan Pugiotto) proves he isn’t pure of heart as he touches the orb which contains the powers of the seven deadly sins. The Wizard Shazam! sends young Thaddeus back and that’s where the obsession begins. Sivana isn’t a villain with constant family issues even though his father and older brother don’t exactly treat him with love and respect. He is a villain that is driven to be as powerful as possible especially when he does find the gateway back to The Rock of Eternity. The seven deadly sins are released as the orb places itself in his eye, which give Sivana the ability to summon them. Mark Strong being British and often given the villainous roles to play doesn’t hold back in this fantastic role. On screen opposite Zachary Levi (Shazam!) there is genuine great hero versus villain moments, which for me where definitely one of the highlights of the film.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) at the age of fourteen really does has the world on his shoulders. After loosing his mother in the crowds at the fairground when he 3 years old Billy spent all that time looking for her while being moved to several different foster homes. It’s fair to say he probably isn’t the nicest of teenagers with a definite chip on his shoulder. One of the fun parts in this film, especially in Billy’s introduction he wants information on whereabouts his mother could possibly be. Billy isn’t into stealing cars but will gladly help himself to a police officers lunch. You instantly understand Billy Batson is child that wants to grow up quickly so he can please himself as he already doesn’t feel the need for another foster family. There is no doubt that Billy can look after himself but legally he has to stay in the system until he is 18 years old. Shazam! as a film highlights another important subject that often gets overlooked, fostering. I have been fortunate to know a few foster parents and the one main thing they all say about fostering is to give a child a secure, happier place and enrich their life as they grow up before they enter the world as adults.
Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews characters Rosa and Victor Vasquez need to be praised for bringing a very real feel to a couple that were in foster care, meet and then married. The Vasquez household is already full with foster children of various ages, but Rosa and Victor are willing to take Billy on as really he isn’t wanted by anyone else. There is a nice scene when Billy is in the family people carrier and Rosa and Victor go out there way to make him feel welcome, Billy just cringes and realises he has to go along with what this family can offer him. Darla, Mary, Eugene, Pedro and Freddie have no problem in making Billy welcome as they are being fostered by the Vasquez’s. Unknown to Billy, Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and his superhero knowledge will prove very valuable to him in the future.
Freddie Freeman played Jack Dylan Grazer could possibly be the scene stealer of the film. Freddie’s enthusiasm for superheroes is possibly all us nerds and geeks can identity with. His infectious fast talking manic way is fantastic to watch especially when Freddie asks Billy what would he choose between flight or invisibility? Billy of course isn’t really interested in the conversation just dead pans “flight so I can fly ways from this conversation.” Freddie has to use a crutch to help him walk which gives two older lads at his school the thought that they have the right to bully him. Billy witnesses Freddie being knocked to the ground by the bullies, he goes to walk away but can’t help but intervene. Which nicely leads the audience into the second act of the film, how Billy Batson is chosen to become the champion that is Shazam!
Billy Batson gets chosen by the wizard Shazam! as he can see Billy is pure of heart. We get a fantastic explanation of the acronym which makes up the name Shazam! and a great history of Black Adam. One of the great things about this film it is packed with Easter eggs whether it’s DCU related or just the references to the Shazam! comics. The Rock of Eternity in itself is a fantastic set and perfect for anyone to have as their superhero lair.
The transformation of Billy into Shazam! is done so well. Waiting for the first cinematic frames of Zachary Levi as the 6”4, 224lb muscular superhero head to toe in red spandex with a lightning bolt on his chest. Its an iconic moment as this superhero finally isn’t just in the pages of comics anymore but now live action. Asher Angel and Zachary Levi are perfectly matched in their mannerisms. What I thought was particularly clever in how the transition from 14 year old boy into Shazam! was seamless. Being Shazam! gives Billy a chance to forget his troubles and be the most joyful Superhero. What exactly his superpowers are Billy needs help from the one and only Freddie.
We all love a training montage and Shazam! gives us an extra special superhero training one. Freddie puts Shazam! through several different tests. This is filmed perfectly as Queens “Don’t stop me now” is played over the scenes. I was a little disappointed that Shazam! hasn’t got laser eyes but it was hilarious to watch Levi cheat and pretend he did. The excitement of Freddie seeing Shazam! has bullet immunity during a gas station robbery was infectious. For me personally the most important moment that came across in a scene between Freddie and Shazam! is when they are sat on the iconic steps that Rocky ran up in his training montage. Freddie notices the personality change in Billy as a superhero, as he was a lot nicer to be around.
Being Shazam! doesn’t come without its problems. Billy decides he doesn’t have to attend school, he is happy out meeting the public whilst Freddie is receiving suitcase wedgies for pretending to know The Big Red Cheese, Red Cyclone, or Captain Sparkle Fingers. This causes an understandable rift in how Billy let Freddie down.
The third act is where the majority of the great action sequences take place. Shazam! finally realises he can fly with help from Sivana grabbing him by the throat and taking him skyward. The budget for the film being $100million is certainly used well in all aspects of the CGI. Billy may look like a man in his thirties but the reality is he still a 14 year old boy and this works so well because of Zachary Levi’s acting ability.
The seven deadly sins alone are terrifying which is used well with the film because director David F. Sandberg has a background in horror. not make As they terrorise the people of Philadelphia. Billy, Freddie, Mary, Darla, Eugene and Pedro know they need to remove the orb from Sivana. This is when our champion finally understands his full potential of his power and realises family is what it can be, not what it should be. With everyone now saying Shazam! the rest of Billy’s family turn into superheroes. They now have the strength and power to distract the six deadly sins whilst Billy can deal with Sivana.
With a clever direction choice from David F. Sandberg he moves the final flight scene between Shazam! and Sivana away from the fairground. The use of the city of skyscrapers are always good backdrops in superhero films. With a nice twist on the traditional stand off between villain and hero, Shazam! can’t hear what big bad villainous speech Sivana is making. With conjuring the courage of Achilles Shazam! confronts Sivana about the sin of envy that still lays within him, it works and Sivana is weak as he has no power of the sins in him.
The final moments of the film tie up the story nicely making it a solid addition to the DCU. A special mention is needed for the actor who plays Santa, Brian Kaulback he is hilarious and is totally freaked out by the invasion at the mall between Shazam! and Sivana. Benjamin Wallfisch has created a beautiful stirring superhero orchestra score. The music notes brings out the right tones of emotion and fun. You instantly recognise Shazam! superhero theme.
I personally don’t think there is a bad scene in the film which is unusual because I am always eager to adjust something to my personal taste. When I watched Shazam! I didn’t think I was watching another version of Tom Hanks “Big” even though the musical piano was an Easter egg in the toy shop. All the cast where superb, Zachary Levi to be honest I don’t think he could of done anymore to make this part his own. Zachary is a seriously underrated and versatile actor. Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer are our future stars to keep an eye on. Faith Herman as Darla, Grace Fulton as Mary, Ian Chen as Eugene and Jovan Armand as Pedro all need a special mention as they brought the comedy, empathy and fun where it was needed.
With Shazam! 2 being written and set to go into production in spring 2020, the future of this franchise superhero is definitely looks like it has the Stamina of Atlas.
There are a lot of references to the superheroes we know such as Batman, Superman, AquaMan and Wonder Woman. From Shazam! own history Billy carries a back pack with a tiger on which is his favourite animal. Future villains that are teased is probably the smallest and wackiest in the DCU a caterpillar named Mister Mind. I would love to see a live action of one of my favourite graphic novels “First Thunder” it’s a fantastic tale of Superman and Shazam! The thought of seeing Henry Cavill and Zachary Levi on screen together would be this nerds dream come true.