‘Shazam!’ Film Review

Grade: B

Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)

It took a long time for DC to get the formula right for a fun, light-heated adventure like ‘Shazam!’, but here we are! In a world saturated by superhero movies, one rises up to prove itself to be a little different than the rest, and that turns out to be a good thing. It is hard to believe we came a long way from the dark, grey matter that was ‘Man of Steel’ to a bright and colorful rainbow known as ‘Shazam!’; it has the makings of ‘Big’ if it were a superhero movie and has the giddy childlike nature to show, but does not risk its intensity and punches to make for an entertaining action movie.

Zachary Levi brings out his inner child to play the eponymous hero, who can change back and forth between a costumed hero with slick hair to a teenage boy trying to find his family just by shouting his name! The teenager, in question, is Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who keeps running from foster home to foster home in order to find his mother. With no luck and what seems to be the end of the road, two foster parents (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews_ show up to take him in with other foster kids; one of them being a disabled boy named Freddy Freeman (‘It’s Jack Dylan Grazer), whose sense of humor more than makes up for his predicament. However, one day, after defending Freddy from some bullies, Billy makes a run for it towards the subway, and that is where things get interesting, as he enters into a mysterious lair inhabited by a mystical wizard (Djimon Hounsou) looking for the next heir to take on the responsibilities of a superhero, just by being pure of heart.

Billy, of course, ends up taking the responsibility of an actual superhero, yet is foolishly unprepared for the journey he undergoes, which leads to some clever satirical commentary on what it is like to be a superhero before the crime fighting starts. It is a treat to watch Billy train with Freddie while becoming Shazam as we see him try and fail in an awesome training montage, all leading up to a showdown between Shazam and the villainous Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who will stop at nothing to destroy him for his own disastrous means.

The best way to describe ‘Shazam!’ is ridiculous, cheesy fun in more ways than one. It has a self-awareness on superhero tropes and cliches while standing on its own apart from other DC movies proving that this once-reviled extended universe is getting on its feet.

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