Australian Council on Children and the Media

Shazam!

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Not recommended under 13, Parental guidance to 15 (violence, scary scenes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Shazam!
  • a review of Shazam! completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 April 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended for children under the age of 13 due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance recommended.
Children over the age of 15 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Shazam!
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and action violence.
Length 132 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Fourteen-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a streetwise foster kid, determined to find his mother whom he lost as a small child. When a last ditch effort to locate her goes wrong he finds himself in a group foster home with 5 very different siblings including: the studious Mary (Grace Fulton), tech wiz Eugene (Ian Chen), handicapped and superhero obsessed Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), silent and serious Pedro (Jovan Armand) and sweet little Darla (Faithe Herman). After standing up for Freddy Billy is chased through the streets by two violent bullies. He escapes on the subway and finds himself in a wizard cave where he is presented with magical powers, transformed into the adult superhero Shazam! (Zachary Levi), and charged with saving the world. Meanwhile the power-hungry Dr Sivana (Mark Strong) has released the 7 deadly sins and will stop at nothing to defeat Shazam! While coming to terms with his powers and abilities Billy learns that sometimes the family you have been searching for is the one that you already have, and that unconditional love is the greatest power of all.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family breakdown; bullying; misuse of power.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a lot of violence in this movie including use of guns and fighting. Examples include:

  • When Dr. Sivana takes the eye to release the 7 sins it looks like his own eye blasts out of the back of his head. When he stands up, he has a scar on this face and a purple glowing eye in the one socket where a real eye used to be.
  • Shazam! is repeatedly shot by two thieves who are robbing a convenience store.
  • The 7 deadly sins have no regard for life and decapitate, murder and kill whenever they are released.
  • There are numerous superhero fight scenes where Shazam! and Dr. Sivana blast through buildings or destroy statues while fighting with each other.
  • Shazam accidentally zaps a bus wheel with his electric powers and the bus falls over the embankment. Numerous passengers are slightly injured but Shazam! saves their lives.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The 7 deadly sins are locked up within stone statues in the cave of a powerful wizard. When a child is brought forth and tested to see if they are pure of heart the eyes of the sins begin to glow and creepy voices are heard urging him to get the eye. The cave is dark and foreboding and there is an intensity to the scene that may frighten young viewers.
  • A woman touches a door containing the symbols that lead to the cave where the deadly sins are imprisoned, and her body slowly turns to black ash. She lets out a horrific scream as she crumbles into nothingness and dies.
  • Once the eye is released the 7 sins are freed from their stone prisons. They can shape shift and move between their host by either becoming a transformable black smoke or a terrifying monster. The monsters are both horrifying and ruthless and shape shift repeatedly throughout the film. The 7 deadly sins are what nightmares are made of and will definitely frighten younger children
  • The history of the 7 deadly sins is shared in story format and millions of people were killed or destroyed by these terrible entities. It shows small fiery representations of people screaming in agony.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Two children are travelling in a car with their father at the start of the film. When the boys fight, the father loses control of the car and they spin out of control narrowly missing getting hit by a truck. A moment later they are hit at full speed by another vehicle and there is a slow-motion scene of shattering glass and carnage as the father is propelled out the windscreen where the children find him lying in a pool of blood.
  • There is a scene in a board room where Dr. Sivana enters, throws his brother out of the window of the skyscraper (he plummets to his death while the horrified board members watch) and unleashes the sins which attack all the board room members, bashing, decapitating and devouring everyone in the room while they cream in terror and try to escape. Not even the father is spared.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • In an effort to get rid of Shazam!, Dr. Sivana uses the 7 deadly sins to capture the foster siblings. As all of the kids are being forcibly restrained, he then tells one to kill Darla. The kids are threatened by the monsters at several stages throughout the film.
  • Freddy is hit by a car and then the two bullies that hit him begin to beat him up. There are repeated threats from these boys throughout the film and Freddy is visibly scared.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Some children in this age group may still find some of the above-mentioned scenes (specifically the board room one) frightening.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • A magic 8 ball is used as a conduit to connect a child to the 7 deadly sins.
  • Numerous cans of Dr Pepper fly out of a vending machine and Freddy and Shazam! drink it all
  • Repeated references and some images of Batman and Superman paraphernalia
  • Apple products are used, and Eugene is seen playing in a Toshiba laptop.
  • A number of American snacks are also both consumed and displayed such as Cheetos and Fritos

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Shazam! enters a strip club twice. Audiences are not taken in but as the foster siblings emerge Mary is covering Darla’s eyes while scolding Shazam! and the boys look happy and dazed.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • There is one reference to seeing “boobs”, but none are seen.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Shazam! goes into a convenience store to buy beer for himself and Freddy. Both boys spit it out as soon as they taste it.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • A child is called a: “miserable, winey, little shit.” by his father and there is further sporadic use of the word, including “dip shit,” “no shit,” and “shit hole.”
  • The terms: “kick your ass,” “kick his ass,” “douche bags,” “screw it,” “your aim sucks balls,” “screwed over,” “ass bags” “you suck” “punch you in the nuts” and “you’re a dick” are used in the film.
  • Freddy raises middle fingers to some bullies and an angry Santa Claus repeatedly swears during a news interview. His words are beeped but you can still tell that he is using the F word in a variety of ways.

In a nutshell

Shazam! is an action-packed movie with some important messages and funny lines. Despite being presented as a kid friendly film this one should be viewed by slightly older audiences.

The main messages from this movie are that families are not always bound by blood, that true power consists of sharing your strengths and raising others up instead of putting them down and that goodness, selflessness and courage will triumph over evil in the end.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Gratitude
  • Teamwork
  • Determination
  • Responsibility to the greater good
  • Unconditional love

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • Running away from home
  • Playing “harmless” tricks on police (there did not appear to be any consequences for Billy’s actions of locking up two police officers and stealing their lunch in the film)
  • Trying stunts like Billy did to see if he had certain super powers. Billy’s first attempts at flying did not go well and while he was uninjured and showed no damage to being shot in the face repeatedly this would not be the case for anyone who tried to emulate Billy’s actions.

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