Note: This is an advanced, spoiler-free review of Shazam! , which opens on April 5.
Shazam follows Billy Batson (Asher Angel), an orphan, who, by saying “Shazam,” turns into an adult superhero.
I really, really enjoyed Shazam. Though there isn’t much competition, Shazam is probably my favorite DCEU movie. The obvious inspiration for this is Big, but I got some Spider-Man: Homecoming vibes from this too. A lot of DCEU movies have tried, and failed to go for a lighter tone, including Justice League and Aquaman, but this one hits the mark on how to properly incorporate humor.
The chemistry between Jack Dylan Grazer (who I LOVED in IT) and Zachary Levi is super fun to watch, and it balances the wish fulfillment with some nice comedy. I didn’t expect to like the actual kid who plays Shazam, but he did a pretty good job despite not being in the movie a ton. You sympathize with his character, and seeing his relationship with Jack Dylan Grazer’s character develop is fun.
One of my biggest issues with Shazam is how it falters with a lot of the mythology it deals with: the film’s corniness works sometimes in the larger context of the movie, and comes off as earnest, but when it tries to explain the Shazam powers, the dialogue isn’t great, and it felt pretty campy. Mark Strong’s villain, as most times happens in superhero movies, is not the best. Nothing to do with his performance, but he gets a cliche, predictable backstory and is a pretty generic villain throughout.
One thing I really do appreciate about Shazam is the third act. In different circumstances, it would not have worked and been similar to something like Wonder Woman, which ended in a big CGI mess, but this (and I won’t give away anything) put a nice twist on the familiar superhero movie third act that kept the audience more engaged. But overall, the tone of the movie was the standout. Most of the gags worked, and worked well, and this was one of the funnier recent superhero movies. I’m excited to see more of Shazam, and this is the rare DCEU movie I walked out of with a huge smile on my face. It also uses the fact that it’s in the DCEU for some fun references and Easter Eggs, but definitely stands on its own.
Shazam! is a really heartfelt, earnest, super fun movie, and a big recommendation here.