Shazam is the latest Superhero movie from DC and Warner Brothers and follows a teenage boy as he gains powers that transform him into a hero. If this sounds like the plot of Big dropped into a comic book movie that’s because it largely is, to the point where there’s a cheeky little nod to that film during one of the early confrontations between the hero and villain.
Zachary Levi is pretty much perfectly cast, he’s brilliant at basically playing a kid who suddenly is transformed into an adult superhero having no idea what he’s doing. Mark Strong is a dependably solid villain, though one of the biggest problems is that his character falls into the trap of a villain who isn’t developed amazingly. Thankfully though, there is a little bit of backstory within to link Shazam and Dr Sivana.
The main focus of the film is the family aspect of it, with Billy Batson gaining a foster family early in the film where he’d been alone a lot prior to that. Most of the film’s heart comes from Billy embracing this new dynamic and coming to terms with having a family, even if it’s not what he expected. Asher Angel as Billy is impressive but his foster family all have nice little moments to shine.
It’s definitely lighter tonally than the DC films that had been released prior to 2019, it seems like they’re finally not trying to force the extended universe. Instead just letting the films exist on their own merits with more subtle nods to the wider universe, which is a plus. DC seem to be in a place where they embrace making films that are just damn good fun to watch rather than the grittier tone of what’s gone before.
The film isn’t without flaws, some of the CGI is a bit ropey which is pretty standard with effects-heavy films and the last half an hour or so is a bit too busy for my liking, I think it would have benefitted from a bit more focus but these are ultimately just my opinions and are minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things. At no point was my enjoyment in any way lessened.
So if you want a fun, slightly silly film to watch that is paced pretty well and is tonally quite light then you could do a damn sight worse than Shazam. It’s also nice to see that the DC films are starting to improve and not worry so much about copying what Marvel has done. It gives me hope ahead of DC films that are due in the future like Wonder Woman 1984 and The Batman.