There are a few notable superhero films that are peppering the first half of 2019, but Shazam! may be one that has slipped past your radar.
The latest project in the DC movie universe (if that still exists anymore) sees a well-known, but under utilised character in the form of Shazam! and Billy Batson, finally get some screen time, and in a lot of ways serves as a bit of course correction for the DC movies we’ve seen to date.
Light and breezy
We say this as the tone of Shazam! is completely different from anything that DC and Warner Bros. has put out for some time, and is definitely the colourful and fun tonic to the ultra dark films that the DC movie universe has been littered with – we’re looking at you Dawn of Justice.
It’s even a departure from the likes of Wonder Woman, which tackled a few heavier subjects, and the effects-laiden epic that was Aquaman.
So what are our thoughts on Shazam!, and how does it measure up in a world where a new superheo-filled film is released very three months?
On the whole quite nicely, if a little less impactful compared to The Dark Knight or even Man of Steel.
That said, the fact that Shazam! is a relatively unknown among moviegoers actually works in the film’s favour. As such you’re not sitting and waiting for specific canon to be mentioned, and can simply allow the director (David F. Sandberg) to do his thing.
The other nice aspect to the movie is the group of young actors that Warner Bros. has assembled for this project. Asher Angel, who plays Billy Batson, and Jack Dylan Grazer as as fellow foster home kid and superhero expert, in particular are worthy of praise.
Grazer especially makes an impression, and his interactions with Zachary Levi as Shazam! are well worth watching.
Speaking of Levi, he certainly embodies the persona of Shazam! well. Namely as a 14 year-old kid trapped in a superhero’s body. When the film was described by producers prior to release, it was equated to Tom Hanks’ big, but with superpowers, and for the most part, it felt like it.
As for his counterpart – Dr. Sivana played by perennial movie bad guy Mark Strong – he provides the menacing presence needed for the role. It is a little hard to see him in the role though, as he has played a DC villain in the past (Sinestro in Green Lantern).
Overall though he does serve as a nice counterpoint to Shazam!, and his lore is solidly explored in the film.
We do need to bring up one thing – the suit Levi wears in the film. We have no issues with the styling, but it is obvious that some padding was added for effect. Perhaps it was more noticeable given the attention that Levi received in pre-production and his need to bulk up for the role in a very short amount of time.
Initially his look does not translate well, especially if you look at his shoulders and arms, but after a while the look grows on you and becomes less of an issue.
If there is a sequel though, hopefully Levi has more time to prepare and get closer to that Henry Cavill Superman-esque physique that they were aiming for.
CGI and special effects are also a tad off in our books with this film. By modern superhero film standards there isn’t a ton of CGI, but in the spots where it does happen, it’s very noticeable, especially when Shazam! flies.
Padding issues aside Shazam! is a welcome palette cleanser from the usual films that DC and Warner Bros. like to serve up. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously, and tries to have as much fun as possible in the process.
Add to that the scattering of references to the DCEU littered throughout the film, and there’s enough to enjoy for the 2 hour and 12 minute runtime.
The only problem Shazam! finds itself in is the fight for future films and projects, especially as the character does not have the same cache as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and of course the two heaviest hitters of DC do.
Nevertheless Shazam! is an enjoyable film, but does not break any moulds.