Forget about the ridiculous name, because Shazam! is a really fun time out at the movies. After the dreary darkness of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, this Zachary Levi starrer is more in the vein of Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Actually, this flick’s not just optimistic, it’s a straight-up comedy masquerading as a superhero blockbuster.
Plain and simple, Shazam! works because of Levi. The man’s got buckets of charisma bursting out of him and he steals every single scene. I was completely convinced by his portrayal of a 14-year old kid in an adult man’s body, and that’s certainly no easy feat. Moreover, his chemistry with Jack Grazer (who plays his best friend Freddy) is off the charts. The film is basically a buddy comedy, and these two play off one another hilariously well as Billy begins to unlock his vast array of powers.
Villain-wise, Mark Strong makes for a formidable threat as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, a wealthy outcast who gains sinister abilities but not the “champion” title he so desperately seeks. Less impressive are his lackeys: the 7 sins personified. The creatures are visually terrifying, but the script never really taps into them from a narrative perspective. It would have been fascinating to watch our hero struggle with each of the sins on his journey to becoming a caped crusader, but alas the film merely uses the sins as interchangeable bad guys for our hero to pummel. A very odd choice!
One thing: the marketing for Shazam! positions the film as a superhero outing for the entire family, but it’s actually shockingly gory and creepy at times.
An entertaining superhero flick that’s bursting with energy and heartfelt laughs.