Everyone is enthralled with the brand new superhero in Metropolis. Shazam can do everything from thwarting robberies to saving a dog from a tree. And he’s so darned polite, too. Shazam is beyond thrilled to be able to meet and fight alongside the Justice League as they fend off an attack on a local farmer’s market. They’re impressed enough with him to offer him a permanent position in the League—as long as he’s willing to reveal his secret identity to them.
If you’re even peripherally familiar with the character of Shazam, you can see why he might be reluctant to accept such an offer. After all, big, muscly, Adult Male Shazam is really 10-year-old Billy Batson. How could the Justice League ever take him seriously if they knew who he was?
Then, after an encounter with Mr. Mind, a super intelligent space worm with an insatiable appetite, the entire rest of the Justice League is turned into children, as well, and Shazam may be the only one who can save them.
One of the things that makes the LEGO movies so much fun is that the characters are all broad and over-the-top, almost caricatures of themselves. Batman’s brooding and secrecy becomes an almost petulant need to look mysterious and cool in front of everyone else. Superman’s farmboy childhood manifests as a bizarre and hilarious sort of down-home wisdom that may or may not make actual sense. Flash is… kind of clueless. Everyone has their own little quirks, but when all is said and done, those quirks are part of what make this version of the Justice League seem less like a team and more like a family. And family is just what Billy Batson needs.
The real standout among these quirky characters is, of course, the titular Shazam, played by Sean Astin. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone better suited to play the adult superhero with the heart and mind of a child. His great comedic timing is highlighted by an underlying sincerity which informs his entire character. One minute he’s saving the city single handedly, and the next, he’s fanboy gushing over getting to meet the Justice League. There’s no ego, no pretense, just pure, childlike wonder in everything he does—no matter how ridiculous. Astin pulls it off perfectly.
The other great thing about LEGO movies is how they portray the LEGO world. Collapsing buildings become piles of loose LEGO bricks that must be reassembled. Switching to a secret identity involves LEGO figures changing their accessories. These design elements aren’t a super prominent or important part of the story. They’re more of an occasional background bit or throwaway occurrence to add flavor to this strange, silly story.
The story may be strange and silly, but underneath it is a good heart—much like Shazam himself, in fact. That heart is what makes this a story that matters. It’s funny, but also sweet, and the sort of movie that both kids and adults will really enjoy. If you’re a fan of LEGOs, the Justice League, and silly fun, you won’t want to miss Shazam: Magic and Monsters.
Creative Team: Matt Peters (director), Jeremy Adams (writer), Jill Wilfert and Jason Cosler (executive producers), Rick Morales (producer), Sean Astin (Shazam), Troy Baker (Batman), Grey Griffin (Wonder Woman/ Lois Lane), Nolan North (Superman/Clark Kent/Alfred), Cristina Milizia (Jessica Cruz), Greg Ellis (Mister Mind), Ralph Garman (The Wizard), Imari Williams (Black Adam)
Distributor: Warner Bros. Animation
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