A safe and familiar, yet engaging origin story of the DC superhero Shazam. This Shazam review is brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr T.
Director: David Sandberg
Review: If you aren’t familiar with the DC character Shazam, let me give you a brief rundown of the character. Created in 1939 and published by Fawcett Comics in the beginning, he was the most popular comic book superhero of the 1940s and the character is basically a teenage kid who is granted superpowers by a magical staff-wielding wizard and transforms into an adult superhero whenever he utters the word Shazam. The character was acquired by DC comics later on, who felt that the character was just Superman with magic. And as you know, the rest is history. The live action movie Shazam is a humorous and comic book accurate retelling of the story and follows 14-year-old Billy Batson as he deals with his new-found powers, and the responsibilities that come with it.
The main focus of the movie is the friendship between young Billy and Freddie, who are excellently portrayed by Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer respectively. Zachary Levi also does a great job as Billy’s superhero alter ego and weirdly enough, you never doubt he and Billy Batson are the exact same person. Mark Strong plays the movie’s villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and though his performance is a tad melodramatic at times, it’s quite deliberate and works well in the film. His character is pretty black and white, but I guess this is what they intended.
The writers and directors focus on building characters, a trait which was unfortunately lacking in the Zack Snyder movies. No more confusing story arcs and unnecessary plot threads that make no sense. In fact, the film pokes fun at itself every chance it gets. I think the convenience store scene was hilarious and pure comedy gold. However, I didn’t like the editing in the film, as 132 minutes is really pushing it.
The comics and animated features of DC have always been rich and diverse, and it deserves special treatment. I won’t lie to you, Shazam plays it safe and is a very familiar and overdone origin story. Yet it is a very novel take as we see it unfold from the perspective of two kids. You can argue 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming already did that, but in that movie, Spiderman was already a superhero when Tony Stark found him. The movie Shazam is an excellent example of how varied the comics world can be. I mean this movie’s tonality is an exact antithesis to Christopher Nolan’s take on what a superhero film should be. Sure, one’s a popcorn flick and the other is cinematic art, but after coming under fire for blunders like Suicide Squad and Justice League, I think the guys at DC deserve a bit of slack. I’m really looking forward to what they do next and this is something I couldn’t have said even a year back.
Rating: My rating for Shazam is 3.5/5.
Who should watch this: If you like feel-good superhero movies that you can enjoy with your family, you will enjoy Shazam. Also check out Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor Ragnarok (2017), Ant-Man (2015) and the animated short The Return of Black Adam (2010).