Superhero movies meet Big in this newest installment in the DC Extended Universe, centered around a teenager named Billy Batson who acquires the magical powers of Shazam that transform him into a fully grown man with superpowers. Featuring a lighter tone and many comedic moments, Shazam looks to shift away from the darker DCEU movies like Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman and stand on its own.
Shazam was never really a movie I was looking forward to based on the trailers. With that said, there’s definitely fun to be had here. I think the light tone does this movie justice and I found myself laughing at a lot of the funny moments. I particularly enjoyed the fun way they explored Shazam’s powers. As with any superhero movie, there is also plenty of action to keep you entertained as well.
Zachary Levi, who plays the adult Shazam, is the standout of the movie. You can see how much fun he is having in this role. It is almost a seamless transition going from teenage Billy, played by Asher Angel, to Levi. Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Billy’s best friend, follows up his breakout role in IT with another strong performance here. Unfortunately the rest of the cast is kind of take it or leave it, with no standout performances from the side characters.
The biggest downsides to the movie are story, its reliance on superhero movie cliches, and the fact that the movie never made me care about the conflict with the villain, played by Mark Strong. Strong’s performance is fine, if a little over the top, but the villain character itself is weak, which for superhero movies, and the DCEU in particular, should come as no surprise. If I’m not mistaken, the original villain was going to be Shazam’s arch nemesis, Black Adam, played by The Rock. I think that would have been a better route to take this, and The Rock’s style would have fit perfectly with this movie’s tone.
Shazam also has some really dated looking effects. You could have told me this movie was actually made 10 years ago and I would believe you. Some of the CGI-heavy action scenes look a little wonky and there are several CGI monsters that don’t look good at all. Unfortunately, several of those moments took me out of the movie just enough to be distracting.
If you saw the trailers for Shazam you know exactly what you are getting. If you liked that Big feel to a superhero movie, you’ll probably get a lot out of this and enjoy it a lot. I never really dug that aspect going into it, but did enjoy the movie for what it was and appreciated all the heart it had. It’s probably not a movie I’ll go back to very often, but I also won’t recommend that you don’t see it.
Shazam! gets a 10-4.
Ratings from low to high: Felony, Misdemeanor, 10-4, Positive ROP, Golden Donut)