Shazam!: Film Review

I could not get excited about Shazam! There seemed to be very little publicity or hype, the trailer looked a bit rubbish and lame, and I don’t have much faith in DCEU films, so I was beyond surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a foster kid who is placed in a new group home with the likes of Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Darla (This is Us star Faithe Herman). One day he takes a subway train and mysteriously arrives at this underground lair, where an aged wizard named Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) calls on him to take his place as champion, someone who will keep the Seven Deadly Sins locked away safely. Billy agrees to the job and becomes the caped superhero Shazam (played by Zachary Levi) anytime he says that word. However, by this point, the sins have already been freed by Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) and are currently using him as a vessel, giving him superpowers.

There are a lot of characters and stories to set up so Shazam! takes a while to get going but it’s all important stuff and necessary for someone like me who had no clue about the backstory. It was intriguing the whole time but it really became exciting and fun once Billy transformed into his adult, superhero self for the first time. The film is quite silly and tries too hard to be funny in places but it is so entertaining, I laughed out loud a lot and I reckon kids will love it. The majority of the DCEU (excluding Aquaman) takes itself pretty seriously and this was the antidote to that. It was refreshing to see a light-hearted, fun and old school superhero comedy movie.

I used to watch Levi in Chuck and we haven’t really seen him in much since, and it finished in 2012, so I’m glad he’s been given a comeback opportunity. He is good comedy value and full of energy, but my favourite person was Freddy. Grazer was my favourite actor in It and he is again here. I can’t even put my finger on what I like about his acting but I think he’s terrific. I enjoyed his interactions with Billy – both young and adult – and the dialogue between them made me chuckle. They have great chemistry. In fact, I enjoyed the whole dynamic of the foster family, and Herman was cute as hell. Strong has played the villain before so he does it well but I didn’t really buy his motives or consider him to be a true threat. I thought the cast was already pretty good – and then I saw Adam Brody!! I don’t want to say anymore but just know I was very excited by this. I had the biggest crush on him during The O.C. days.

It mostly plays everything for laughs, which means that the stakes are low and you don’t actually believe anyone is in actual danger. It may be a comedy mostly, but there were actually quite a few moments that kids might find scary – the sins are freaky when they manifest themselves. Also, Billy’s backstory with his biological mum is really sad so there’s a bit more meat to this movie than you would expect.

Shazam! outstays its welcome towards the end, as it is a bit long and the final battle seems to go on forever, some attempts at humour fall flat and the CGI isn’t the best in a few places. But those are small niggles – Shazam! is such a delightful, pleasant surprise.

Released in cinemas from Friday 5th April

(Rating: 4/5)

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  1. […] an adult caped superhero (Zachary Levi) whenever he yells Shazam! A delightful surprise. Review here. Released: 5th […]

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