Shazam! is the latest entry into the DCEU. After the recent success of Aquaman all eyes turned to Billy Batson, a kid who can turn into a superhero by saying the word Shazam! Tasked with bringing Shazam to the big screen for the first time is David F. Sandberg. Most known for his horror background this would seem like an odd choice given Shazam’s character. But just like James Wan, David F. Sandberg proved he can adapt his style and produce a great superhero movie. Because that’s what Shazam! is at the end of the day. I had such a great time while watching this movie. My cheeks started to hurt because I found myself smiling so much. Shazam! is a movie full of heart that grabs you from minute one and takes you even further once Billy discovers his powers.
One of the main reasons why this film resonated with me so much is the use of family as its theme. Billy from a young age not only struggles to fit in, but he has an even harder time trying to find a place he can call home. And throughout the movie it has him going back to his past to look for answers. I won’t spoil it, but I found some of these scenes really emotional. By the end of the movie it’s really nice to see how things turn out for him. You see how Billy changes over time, especially with how he treats people. Because at the beginning of the movie he’s not the nicest kid, but given his upbringing you can kind of sympathise with him. It’s just so satisfying once his character makes that change.
I cannot praise the movie any further if I don’t give a special shoutout to the cast here. The movie works because of them. And you know what’s the best part about it? The majority of the main cast are kids! They’re going places after this movie. As for the main star Zachary Levi he’s just perfect in the role. I knew he was going to nail the role from the first trailer. He not only embodies this version of the character so well, but he makes if feel so realistic to me if that makes sense. I would totally be acting the same way he does in the movie if I found out I could become a superhero. He and Jack Dylan Grazer play off each other so well. Every time it was just them two on the screen together I wanted more. My favourite part in movie is once Billy gets his powers he takes Freddy along with him to discover what powers he actually has. This whole 10-15 minutes section of testing Shazam’s abilities is amazing and it works so well because of the chemistry between the actors. The rest of the kids who make up the foster family are great too. Faithe Herman as Darla was a standout too. Every time she was on the screen she got a positive reaction from the audience.
Speaking of great casting Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana provides for an interesting main villain. Surprisingly, Dr. Sivana is actually given a lot of screen time compared to other villains in superhero movies. The movie actually opens with him. So not only are we following Billy’s journey we’re also following Dr. Sivana’s arc at the same time too. He’s isn’t a throwaway villain. The writers made sure that we understand why he took this route and the impact his upbringing had on him, just like with Billy. What I liked the most about Dr. Sivana is how he’s a genuine threat to Billy and the public. One of the best scenes in the movie involves Dr. Sivana in a boardroom. It’s straight up terrifying, clearly David F. Sandberg was channeling his horror roots in this scene. This scene really stands-out in the movie and it helps solidify Dr. Sivana as a formidable opponent for Shazam.
A lack of punch
With all the praise I’ve given to this movie so far it’s only right for me to bring up what I didn’t like about it because it’s not a perfect movie. Personally, I thought the action was just average. Not that it looked bad because given the lower budget I thought the CGI was fine throughout the movie. But the action scenes/fighting didn’t show me anything different. I was expecting more to be honest. And this ties in with another issue I have with the movie which is the third act/final fight. I thought it could have been a lot better. My main issues with it are that it had the same type of action as we saw throughout the movie and I felt like it went on for too long. Other than the action, humour is a major aspect of the movie. And while for the majority of the movie it worked there were times where a joke would take me out of the moment. At this point I might be nitpicking because 90% of the jokes landed for me. Plus there genuinely were some laugh out loud moments throughout.
Overall, even the flaws aren’t enough from stopping Shazam! being a special movie. It may not make a billion dollars like Aquaman, but I think Shazam! will win the hearts of many people. It won my heart. I love this movie and I can’t wait to see it again, along with a couple of sequels in the future. At a time where it may feel like we’re getting too many superhero movies and there may be some fatigue. Shazam! is a breath of fresh air to the genre. Do yourself a favour, go out and see this movie!
Shazam! will be released on April 5