Thankfully, I was able to see this movie nine days early due to my Odeon having an early screening. After seeing Shazam, I now hope DC carry on making stand alone movies and forget trying to make their own expanded universe. I was a huge fan of Aquaman when I first saw it last year and was hoping Shazam could manage to keep my excitement for upcoming DC movies. I’ve struggled to come across a bad review for this movie, every critic seems to be raving about Shazam and although I don’t believe it to be this 9/10 epic most people are thinking, I still believe it to be a great movie and a step in the right direction for DC.
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.
Shazam does a really good job as an origin story for both Billy Batson and Shazam. Much better than the other Captain Marvel movie off this year. I felt more of a connection to the character of Billy Batson than I ever did with Captain Marvel, that’s not even counting Shazam. Shazam is a blast from the past, it’s nice to see a superhero movie that isnt trying to be dark and violent and instead chooses to be fun for the whole family. David Sandberg does a great job at creating a realistic portrayal of a kid becoming an adult. Think Big meets a superhero flick, for the first half of the movie Billy Batson spends most of his time as Shazam going around taking pictures with the public, buying bear and just enjoying spending life as an adult.
Mark Strong plays the lead antagonist Dr. Sivana, a smart and serious villian who got his chance of power taken away form him as a child. He is a perfect parrallel to Zachary Levi’s Shazam, who is wacky and mostly silly, which makes sense considering he is a 14 year old kid. However, although strong does he best I did find Sivana to be slightly cliche, which made him slightly boring when on screen but Shazam always brought me back to enjoyment. Shazam is constantly funny, a thing even most comedies lately have struggled to do. This helped stupendously by Levi’s performance, you can clearly see he is relishing playing the character because he steals every scene he’s in. The movie also isn’t afraid to be dark and Sandberg balances both of these tones tremendously.
Shazam also has a strong emotional value, at it’s heart the movie is about family, people of all shapes and sizes coming together to fight a greater evil. Sadly, Shazam isnt perfect with one of it’s biggest issues being the mother subplot. Billy Batson is still searching for his mother and after the beginning sets the foundation for this, it takes a back-burner so the movie can give us witty jokes and Shazam’s origin. We do eventually get a conclusion to this subplot but because it comes in and out of the movie at will. It doesn’t feel as important as it probably should.
The action is extremely epic, shot in a similar style to Man Of Steel we see these characters fly to enormous heights, swing punches that collapse enormous buildings and the movie isn’t afraid to make fun off itself, with Shazam running through toy stores throwing batman figures around. For the most part the cgi during these scenes is top notch, despite this there are still certain scenes that are extremely jarring, certain aspects looking out of place and did take me out of the epic experience, if just for a brief moment.
Overall, Shazam is a fun, family friendly movie but dont be mistaken as it still knows when to be serious, balancing the tones really nicely. Zachary Levi is perfect as Shazam and relishes every scene he’s in, Mark Strong plays a well acted villain if a little underwhelming and cliche. The cgi for the most part looks really good, with the fight scenes being the highlight of it all. The side characters are also well written, with Freddy being one of the best parts of the movie. He’s incredibly funny and I can see him being really inspirational to some people. It was extremely funny to see Shazam being trained by a 14 year old. Shazam is a good time for anyone, not to overly long like Aqua-man and nowhere as dark as prior DC movies.