Shazam! is directed by David F. Sandberg and stars Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, and Mark Strong. Shazam! is about 14 year old Billy Batson, a child in the foster care system, who encounters a powerful wizard who gifts him all his power. Now when Billy says the word “Shazam!”, he is transformed into a fully grown man with Superman-like superpowers. This is the latest comic book adaption from Warner Bros. and DC. Can Shazam! keep up the momentum they started back with Aquaman? Let’s find out.
Shazam! continues DC’s new approach of making their superhero films with a lighter tone and straying away from the dark and serious style they used, to kick off their cinematic universe. Shazam! is funny, exciting and a lot of fun. I quite enjoyed my experience with Shazam!. Zachary Levi really embodies what a kid with superpowers would look like. He plays the part with a childlike wonder and makes mistakes along the way as any kid who just received this much power would. I have loved Zachary Levi as an actor ever since Chuck and I’m so happy to say I think he was perfect casting as Shazam. He takes on that same energy that Tom Hanks had when he played a very similar role in Big.
The emotional weight of the film is grounded in the foster home that Billy Batson goes to and the people who live there. The journey that Billy takes to discover what family is, is what makes this movie so good. The foster kids in the home are all handled so well and with so much care. The family dynamic built in the home is touching and endearing. Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Billy’s friend and roommate in the foster home, is an incredible actor for his age. The relationship between him and Billy when he’s 14 and when he’s in full Shazam form is played perfectly. The chemistry between Jack Dylan Grazer and Zachary Levi feels exactly like the chemistry between him and Asher Angel (14-year-old Billy Batson). I think that’s just a testament to all three actors acting ability. The rest of the members of the foster home make for a beautiful representation of what family is and puts a positive spin to the foster care system. The parents who run the house seem like the nicest people you could ever meet. The relationships built within this family dynamic is the heart of the film.
Mark Strong is an actor who is used to playing in these larger than life movies that he just so naturally fits into this character. The movie does its best to give his villainous character a backstory and while I do understand his motives in the story, the movie does ask you to gloss over a big significant time jump where a lot of the character development is assumed to be done during that time. We don’t really get to see that part of his life and his character feels pretty one dimensional because of it. Great performance, not the strongest character.
Shazam! has a great presence of lighthearted comedy throughout the whole movie. There is a lot of comedic commentary on the superhero genre that Shazam! points out and pokes fun at it. There are great scenes where they will set up a typical superhero scene, like where the hero and villain face each other but first the villain has to explain himself and what he’s going to do, and Shazam! will take that moment and play it for laughs. In a lot of ways Shazam! is a self-parody.
Shazam! is one of the best movie DC has put out. The fun, lighthearted tone is a match made in heaven for this character. Zachary Levi fits perfectly into this role and knocks it out of the park. This is the superhero version of Big. This is one of the funniest superhero movies you have ever seen. But what elevates this movie, is the family aspect of its story. The emotional side of the story is never compromised and in fact, is even made better with the comedic beats throughout the film. Shazam! Is a big win for DC.