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Shazam! (2019) <><><>

I do admire the calculated decision that DC made - after the unbearable gravitas of "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman," the DC extended universe studio selected a little-known hero to front their next motion picture. For those who don't know, Shazam is the alter-ego of 14-year-old Billy Batson, a foster child who is bestowed with the "Intelligence of Solomon, Strength of Hercules, Stamina of Atlas, Power of Zeus, Courage of Achilles, and Speed of Mercury" by a mysterious wizard. (Confusing name? I know, but I don't think a certain rival superhero studio would appreciate DC using Shazam's original moniker, Captain Marvel.) Billy is our world's champion, protector against agents of dark magic, the Seven Deadly Sins. Does he have the spirit, heart, and courage worthy of the wizard's power? Initially, no. But the wizard's search has spanned centuries, and ever since the failure of his first champion (Black Adam, coming soon!), he is desperate. Fortunately for us, he selects a pre-teen who is more interested in using his newfound powers to panhandle on the streets of Philadelphia and buy beer from a gas station. And that is where the movie shines - Zachary Levi is excellently cast as the adult form of Billy, an actor with the physique of a Greek god and the "levity" (haha) to play someone who does not know what to do with it. Additionally, his chemistry with Freddy, played by Jack Dylan Grazer (who is able to show off his comedic chops a little more than in his previous film, It)

Dr. Sivana, portrayed by Mark Strong, serves as the villain on a quest to defeat the champion. His power is obtained from the Seven Deadly Sins that live within his eye. The movie spends a lot of time on the origin story of Dr. Sivana. He was never able to let go of being bullied by his father and brother as a child. He was also given the chance to be the champion but failed the purity test. He spends his wealth on finding out how to access the Shazam lair. His wealth is never explained, but he must be a successful adult. Once Dr. Sivana gets his new found power the first thing he does is go on a murderous rampage. The violence felt a bit strong for PG-13 despite not showing actual deaths. There is a lot of movie devoted to Dr. Sivana, too much time.

Finally I can get back to Billy; his story is somewhat simple. He constantly runs away from foster families to try and find his mom; a woman who 'lost' him at a winter carnival. Billy seems to be at the right place at the right time and is selected to be champion out of necessity. The movie shines during a montage of discovering super powers. All of the experiments are logical and feel appropriate for today.

Billy must learn how to be a super hero quickly to defeat Dr. Sivana. He must also learn the true meaning of Chiristmas, I mean family, he must learn the true meaning of family. The final battle scene is very well done. The last half the movie is much better than first half; too much time is spent in the origin story of Dr. Sivana in the first half.

Overall the movie was good. The child actors were solid choices. This is the second funny DC movie. DC is on a streak of good movies that I hope continues.

Shazam was originally slated for a release around Christmas ahead of Aquaman. The entire movie is set around winter time, though it doesn't have that many direct Christmas references. The post credits scene should have been scrapped once Aquaman was released first. The scene doesn't make sense after watching. This may be a good movie to add to your holiday viewing.

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