Zachary Levi and Mark Strong in "Shazam!". Picture: Warner Bros.
Zachary Levi and Mark Strong in "Shazam!". Picture: Warner Bros.

DC is on a roll with 'Shazam!' being one fun ride from beginning to end

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Apr 5, 2019

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DC is on a roll with "Shazam!" being one fun ride from beginning to end. 

Rating: 4/5

"Shazam!" tells the story of Billy Batson(Asher Angel), who is a teen orphan who gets chosen by The Wizard Shazam(Djimon Hounsou) and bestowed magical powers as the new "Champion of Eternity". Once Batson becomes Shazam(Zachary Levi) he transforms into an adult superhero and has to battle Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). 

Sivana was a candidate when he was a child to be the next "Champion of Eternity" in 1974, but was deemed unworthy. He then spent his entire adult life looking for the Rock of Eternity, where he initially was transported to The Wizard Shazam. When he finds it again as an adult, he absorbs the spirits seven deadly sins who were trapped in statues to get revenge on the people that belittled him. 

When it comes to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), their movies have been more misses than hits. "Man of Steel" was OK, "Suidice Squad" was universally panned,  "Batman V Superman" underperformed and "Justice League" was an overall disappointment. 

However, since "Wonder Woman", and the exit of Zack Snyder, it appears that the once-struggling comic book movie franchise is finally getting a good rhythm going. "Aquaman" shocked everyone last year as it had a total tonal shift from the universe Snyder established being a commercial and critical success. 

Ironically, the reason "Shazam!" works so well is due to the fact that it feels more like an MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film. Gone is the somberness and dark aesthetic we’ve become used to in the DCEU. Instead, we have bright colours, a likable protagonist and a villain that has a real motivation as to why he doesn't like our hero. 

The acting across the board is spectacular. From Baston’s new foster parents, played by Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans, to his foster siblings. Everyone gives a great performance. Specifically,  Darla Dudley(Faithe Herman) and Baston’s defacto side-kick/foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). Shazam and Freeman have palatable chemistry on screen with Levi and Grazer acting extremely well off each other. 

The comedy in "Shazam!" is what really sells it and screenwriter Henry Gayden did a great job of making everyone fully realised people within the movie. Levi also captures the essence of Shazam a 14-year-old teenager inhabiting a 30-year-old superhero body. 

Director David F. Sandberg also makes a brave decision with regards to the story with regards to the Shazam family that is sure to make comic fans happy.

Going into "Shazam!" I was interested to see how DC would tackle a hero that’s totally a huge departure from a large part of the other heroes int he DCEU. "Shazam!" does exist within the main universe but still feels like its own film and is the most successful comic film to have come out the DCEU as of yet.  

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