Billy Batson is a streetwise 14-year-old who can magically transform into the adult superhero Shazam simply by shouting out one word. His newfound powers soon get put to the test when he squares off against the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.
My long standing belief on the DC universe is that it would only make strides when it hired exciting and talented directors. The best three movies in the DC universe in my opinion are: Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins), Aquaman (James Wan), and now Shazam! (David F. Sandberg). This movie is a freakin blast. At the start I felt like I had a hard time getting into it, but once Billy Batson gets his powers the brakes come flying off and it’s a incredibly fun ride. The cast is fantastic from Billy Batson’s foster family to Zachary Levi’s incredibly fun performance.
Let’s be honest here: Aquaman is good, Wonder Woman is also good, Shazam is great. This film is borderline satire in the best possible way. There is a great balance of parody and also real life. It is a movie that doesn’t beg you to ask questions, but rather to get wrapped up in the story and have a good time. Shazam is escapism in its purest and most entertaining form.
While the child actors are really great (especially Jack Dylan Grazer) the film really takes off when Zachary Levi shows up in his bright red costume. He is consistently funny, and is totally believable as a 14 year old kid in a superhero’s body. There is just so much to love with Shazam. It never feels like it is trying to be funny, and I can’t truly think of a joke that didn’t land. It has that same adventurous and fun quality that many films of the 1980s had, something that is very hard to replicate. There are points in the story where you just want it to get back to something more exciting, but fortunately it doesn’t dwell on these moments for too long. It is also a bit of a slow starter, and I found the beginning of the film a little less entertaining than what followed. Mark Strong’s villain is also a bit generic, but I think you can easily overlook the flaws and just have fun with this one.
Shazam does tie in to the DC universe, but it really doesn’t need that crutch to stand on. It might even be the movie that saves DC from being in a constant rebooting state. There is an infectious energy with Shazam, and I absolutely can’t wait to see it again. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss this one.