Shazam Review: The Best DC Movie Yet


Shazam is not the primary DCEU film that is pleasing, nevertheless it’s arguably the primary one which’s really good. I acknowledge on reflection that my positive take on 2017’s Justice League put me within the minority, however even should you do not depend that large team-up, the DC movie universe has been steadily rising in high quality, from the respectable Wonder Woman to the goofy, enjoyable Aquaman. Director David Sandberg’s Shazam is the primary film on this shared cinematic universe with which I truthfully don’t have any main gripes–it’s only a good film, whether or not or not you are a fan of DC’s typically gritty, darkish movies, or have any thought who or what Shazam is. Shazam is a film for everyone, and it is nice.

Shazam is the story of Billy Batson, a troubled orphan with a coronary heart of gold who’s granted magic powers by an historic wizard. By saying the phrase “Shazam,” Billy (Asher Angel) can rework right into a full grown grownup (Zachary Levi) with the mixed powers of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. I will not spoil what these powers are, as a result of a number of of the film’s finest scenes are spent with Billy and his foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) as they experiment to seek out out precisely what Shazam is able to. Naturally, as a result of it is 2019, this additionally includes the hero changing into a YouTube sensation, at the same time as Freddy and Billy battle to give you a superhero identify that sticks (highlights embrace “Zaptain America,” “Captain Sparklefingers,” and “Mr. Philadelphia,” amongst many others).

There’s been humor in DC films earlier than, together with in Justice League (keep in mind Aquaman sitting on Wonder Woman’s lasso?) and Aquaman itself. But Shazam is the DCEU’s first full-on comedy, and it is extremely humorous. Plenty of the humor comes from Zach Levi’s efficiency as an adolescent who immediately finds himself in an grownup physique. One of the primary issues he and Freddy do is purchase beer–basically, they act precisely the way you’d count on them to, and the film does not draw back from what teenage boys would do on this state of affairs. Comparisons to the 1988 Tom Hanks film Big aren’t simply warranted, they’re inevitable–but Shazam absolutely leans into it, making nods to the traditional whereas carving its personal path.

It takes a ton of inspiration from the comics, as properly, and embraces its roots quite than making an attempt to make every thing grimly life like. The wizard is a wizard, with flowing robes and tangled gray beard. It’s foolish, however the film additionally has a 1980s Spielbergian journey vibe–think Goonies, Labyrinth, or Neverending Story. It owns its campiness so confidently that the numerous quantity of Shazam mythology it often info-dumps on you goes down pretty simply. It helps that Shazam is often anchored by references to different DC superheroes within the reside motion universe, most notably Batman and Superman. Shazam positively exists in the identical house because the relative heavy hitters which have come earlier than, however their presence on this world is dealt with in a pure means that does not really feel shoehorned in.

The different factor anchoring Shazam’s typically cartoonish world is the varied forged of characters, all of whom you may come to like by the top. Billy winds up at a foster home–one in a succession of many–also inhabited by Freddy, in addition to Darla (Faithe Herman), Pedro (Jovan Armand), Mary (Grace Fulton), and Eugene (Ian Chen). These foster siblings are fleshed out to numerous levels, and by the top you may be rooting for all of them–not to say foster mother and father Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (Cooper Andrews), each of whom have some humorous and touching moments. Shazam has an important message about household, whereas additionally being a dope superhero film, hanging a formidable stability.

Mark Strong performs Dr. Sivana, a traditional Shazam villain and an important alternative for the massive display. The film very neatly begins with a chilly open from Strong’s perspective, injecting a small contact of empathy to what might in any other case have been a really black and white villain. He’s a jerk, for certain, however all through the film you may no less than perceive the place he is coming from and why he’s the best way he’s.

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Shazam is insanely filled with references to DC comics, films, and characters. But the film appears to genuinely love not simply its personal supply materials, however all nerdy corners of popular culture. Eugene is launched with a gaming headset semi-permanently caught to his head, and the younger character makes tons of online game references, all of which land–at one level he exhibits up for a struggle armed with a PlayStation Move gun controller, and at one other he makes a hilarious Watch Dogs joke. It’s the form of factor non-gamers might need to lean over and ask their associates about, however that spotlight to element additionally makes the dialogue and characters ring true, and the players within the viewers possible will not thoughts explaining.

Shazam is the primary DC film that appears genuinely assured in its world and tone, with no main missteps of which to talk. It’s enjoyable, heartfelt, humorous, real, and shocking, whereas staying true to its origins and embracing what makes it nice. It makes no makes an attempt to be one thing aside from what it is–a goofy, enjoyable superhero coming-of-age story–and in consequence it is a film anybody can get pleasure from. Hopefully this can be a signal of issues to return within the DC prolonged universe.

The Good The Bad
Zach Levi ably embodies a teenage boy Occasionally verges on tacky
Embraces its roots as a comic book e-book film
Balances humor, coronary heart, and motion
Great surprises all through
Lovable forged and characters

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