I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first sat down to watch Shazam! I had watched all the trailers DC had released and I honestly thought it looked awful and that it was just going to be a cheese fest. Well, I’m glad to say I was wrong! This was actually weirdly enjoyable and a step in the right direction for DC.
So just a brief background on the story which on a whole is pretty predictable and something that we have seen time and time again, but let’s forget that for now. The story starts with a young child in a car with his father and older brother, before being told that he is weak and worth nothing by them. The young boy is then teleported to a wizard’s lair. A wizard called Shazam, played by Djimon Hounsou, who is looking for a champion to keep the “seven sins” at bay and from destroying the world. The young boy is told that this person must have a pure heart is then tested by Shazam to see if he is the future champion. He fails this test and is transported back to the car with his dad and brother again before being involved in a crash where they both ending blaming the young boy for the incident.
Before long it shows Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) studying people’s mass hysteria aka the times they had been transported and seen the wizard. He manages to figure a way to get back to the lair and free the seven sins. You then find out that he was the little boy from the beginning. Shocker! He was the young kid and the wizard essentially made him grow up into a bad guy! Couldn’t see that one coming!
The story then moves along to 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and tells his life story so far. When he was young, he got lost and his mum never found him and he is running away from foster homes to find her. Simple enough right? He is then moved into a new foster home with some other kids and “parents” that used to be foster kids so know how he is feeling. Unsurprisingly, Billy ends up face to face with Shazam! who is even weaker now and basically thrusts his powers upon him as he has no other choice.
The film then shows a new Shazam! (Zachary Levi) and his “mate” (Jack Dylan Glazer) aka the person he met the day before to live with, explore what superpowers he has now got. Being a 14-year-old soul now living in a grown-up body, he then bunks school and is having fun with all the new powers before it all kicks off. I won’t say any more about the story as not to spoil, but you get the point of it so far.
So although the story itself is pretty average and a weird mix of Big and Stranger Things and very predictable, the humor manages to carry the enjoyment to keep your eyes on the screen for the 2 hours 10 minute run time. The humor within the film wasn’t as cheesy as I thought they would be and a lot of the jokes drew laughter from the crowd.
Zachary Levi was well cast as Shazam! and seemed to have fun playing the role with his childlike enthusiasm and the child actors within the film were some of the better ones I have seen for some time. Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman and Faithe Herman as the young Darla Dudley really stood out for me. All of them really worked together to make this a decent film. Unfortunately, as much as I like Mark Strong, he seemed miscast as the villain. He didn’t bring anything to the role and didn’t seem to change his acting style throughout the film (except the mid-credit scene!). The seven sins alongside him didn’t look fantastic and were also forgettable as monsters. I think there was only one scene where people were actually killed and that wasn’t even near the ending.
The battles throughout the movie and including the end battle were not very engaging and Shazam! never saw himself in any real danger. The threat of the endangerment of his friends was enough to always keep him at bay, but no real damage was ever done to the hero.
Although the movie was predictable and a typical superhero vs a standard villain with nothing about the film, seeing Zachary Levi build the character up felt like I was there trying to learn his powers with him. Yes at times he was a bit of a dick, but then he is a 14-year-old who has just got powers and now looks like a 30-year-old man. I mean I would probably be a bit of a dick as well! Did I mention that there was a giant piano in the film? A small nod to Big. There were other small easter eggs within the film which tied into the original comics which if you are a true comic book nerd can look forward to.
Now we know this film had a battle with Captain Marvel as originally Shazam! in the comics was also called Captain Marvel and due to rights, trademarks and all that shit, he lost the name with Marvel ending up keeping the Captain Marvel name. Incidentally enough they ended up releasing these films within a month of each other and Djimon Hounsou appears in both of them. If I had to pick the one I preferred though, well they both have their own unique traits, but I think in my opinion Captain Marvel pips in ahead.
Overall, don’t expect anything too much from this film. The plot is predictable and uninspiring but is full of laughs to keep you going. The acting is done well from all within the film and hopefully, there will be a few stars of the future. Zachary Levi really is the star of the show though and you can see the childlike charm shine through in him. I can safely say I was proven wrong with this film and was pleasantly surprised with what DC had to offer.