Verdict: A stunning introduction that’s as charming as it is joyful.
Before there was Shazam!, he was originally Captain Marvel. While that name now belongs to someone else, Shazam still remains marvelous. Directed by David F. Sandberg and with a screenplay by Henry Gayden, this film introduces a new superhero to the DC universe who isn’t born with powers, doesn’t have money, isn’t royalty, but has the most fun.
What’s Shazam! About:
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a fourteen-year-old kid who moves from foster home to foster home as he keeps running away in search of his mother. He eventually lands up with a sweet couple Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans) who run a busy foster home brimming with kids. Billy shares a room with Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), who is disabled, witty, and has encyclopedic superhero knowledge. The latter comes in handy when Billy encounters a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who gives him the power to turn into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi), fully equipped with powers that he isn’t quite sure how to use. With a supervillain named Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) looking for him, Billy has to not just learn how to use the powers, but also how to shoulder the responsibility he’s been given as the Champion of Eternity.
When a film is named Shazam!, you can sort of guess what you are going to see. It’s a wacky word with an exclamation point and it perfectly captures the exuberant energy that runs throughout the film. Even though Shazam isn’t one of the most well-known superheroes from the DC comics, his origin story has turned out to be one the best DC film in years.
Shazam! also knows its superheroes and all the usual tropes that come along with it. But with them being in Philadelphia, the usual big city crime isn’t an issue and this superhero has a lot of time on his hands in between skipping classes. So until Sivana comes into the picture, we get to see Billy testing out Shazam’s powers, which is where the sparks fly, literally, as he gets paid by people on the street for shooting electricity from his fingers.
Zachary Levi is the star of the show as he manages to portray an almost fifteen-year-old in the body of an adult with effortless charm. He’s hilarious, he’s goofy, and most importantly – he’s completely believable as a superhero. Jack Dylan Grazer has an interesting part to play as he interacts with the teenage Billy and the adult Shazam and he manages to hold his own against both. However, it’s the foster family, including the kids – Darla (Faithe Herman), Mary (Grace Fulton), Eugene (Ian Chen), and Pedro (Jovan Armand) – who are surprisingly brilliant in their roles and make a strong impression. When it comes to the villain, Mark Strong manages to be foreboding and scary all on his own.
What Could’ve Been Better:
There are some CGI monsters in the film that aren’t particularly impressive, especially in the last big fight, but they’re easily overlooked as something much more awesome happens in it that makes the many monsters a more worthy opponent.
Why You Should Watch:
Shazam! is the kind of superhero film that makes you want to have superpowers. This might seem like an obvious thing for all superhero films to do, but with so many world-ending catastrophes, the sheer awesomeness of powers sometimes gets lost. With Shazam!, you get the classics of the genre – a charming superhero vs. an intense villain – along with many unexpected surprises.
P. S. Be sure to stay for an important mid-credits scene and a fun post-credits scene.