Shazam! explores Billy Batson’s life; an abandoned 14-year-old looking for his parents; isolating himself from anyone willing to give him anything until he is given a final chance to settle in with a new foster family (themselves orphans) hoping they can help him see sense. Billy finds himself out of his depth quickly and it ends as so many had before; him running away. But this time; he runs into a powerful wizard and must take the mantle of Shazam. Leaving him with a confusing face, a confusing body, confusing powers, and no-one to turn to, but his foster family.
Shazam! comes at a pivotal stage for the
DCEU Worlds of DC. Whilst Aquaman smashed it out the box office; it’s quality was definitely not in line with the box office gross that it did. Going into every Worlds of DC film I pretty much know what I will be getting; a lot of action; great visuals and a darker tone. But; after the lacklustre Justice League; the executives vowed to change things up. Aquaman was lighter but still chaos in the sense of what was going on in the final third. Shazam!’s trailers vowed the film would be lighter and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was sceptical and wanted to wait for Endgame but I was so glad I didn’t.
Shazam! smashes it out of the park. It has a great build-up; a great blend of comedy and suspense – with the humour feeling so natural for all the characters involved, absolutely fantastic performances from all involved – the stand-out being Zachary Levi, and it is just fun. The most striking thing about Shazam!; is it manages to feel like a DC film even though it’s so different in tone. I was so scared the film would try to be something it wasn’t but Shazam! is so involved in the universe and it all comes naturally to it.
Of course; there are a few problems that the film still has, it does at time fall into those DCEU traps (it has a fight scene you would swear they took straight from Man of Steel). But, the biggest problem for me is; it’s run-time. The film could’ve been shorter and in the end it just felt like it dragged on. I wish they had just cut down on the final act and finished it off maybe twenty minutes earlier. But; I am willing to give it a pass due to how much fun I was having.
The cast was amazing, and it was great performances from all across the board, with Zachary Levi bringing so much fun and comedy to the title character and he brought such a grounded approach to the hero. The film never felt as though we were dealing with Gods and magic but rather it was so believable that he was 14-year-old. The extended cast was great as well with Jack Dylan Grazer being the heart-beat of the entire film as he shines due to his dynamics with boy 14-year-old Billy Batson and Shazam! All of his family members shine – especially Faithe C. Herman and Asher Angel himself is great as Billy Batson. And now onto Mark Strong’s performance as the villain of the film; a name I cannot tell you without me searching it up. I think the villain himself is quite basic; but the film excels in setting up an origin story for him, that gets muddled in the end due to the nature of what he was trying to achieve. But, what else can you expect from a villain nowadays. He was never going to be one of the best, but he definitely wasn’t bad from what we saw of him and was one of the best villains in the entire DCEU thus far.
And finally, it would be amiss if I didn’t mention why this film works so well. And that is the balance in all the tones. I was so scared that (although I loved it) that Shazam! would end up like some of the scenes Thor: Ragnorok had. That the humour would undercut every and any emotional or impactful moment with cheap laughs. But, Shazam! balances everything perfectly, the comedy never felt out-of-place or cheesy. The way Shazam! found his powers were perfect and totally believable. The film was sweet and emotional at times (even if the family tag-line did make it feel a little cheesy, that I let pass) . Surprisingly, though the score and music used must be accredited towards making such a great film. It made the film scary and suspenseful, which was something I was not expecting and was actually quite happy about. Hell, at the start; I was making sure this was a 12A