In a world of silly superhero movies, Shazam! gloriously stands out as the silliest. Remarkably funny, decently paced, and headed up by a very charismatic lead, Shazam! is almost the DCEU’s greatest offering.
Shazam! is nice and simple at its core. An ancient magician is looking to pass his powers down to a new generation. Someone needs to hold the powers of the seven deadly sins at bay, personified by terrifying demon things that are at once cartoony and also really scary. He picks Billy Batson, an orphan boy, as being pure of heart enough to become Shazam, a superhero Billy turns into every time he says the name. Instantly, he transforms into nerd hunk/hero Zachary Levi.
Levi was clearly wasted in his small role as one of Thor’s buddies because he absolutely shines in Shazam! He and the director perfectly capture a boy who becomes a man. Big but with superpowers. Levi doesn’t just act like a kid in a superhero’s body, he is a kid in a superhero’s body. And the comedy around it is stupendous. Not just a Marvel quip machine, Shazam! finds deeper comedic moments that vary in taste and scope. You’ll find little actions hilarious not because they are funny, but because no one called attention to them. And you, the smart viewer, spotted it.
But, of course, like all shared universe superhero flicks, one is left to wonder in a film where Superman is name dropped relentlessly, where is he? And why is he not immediately there to fight off literal demons who kill people horror movie style?
Blah blah, Chris, superhero movies don’t need to make sense. They just need to be fun. Well, Shazam! is a ton of fun. Sometimes childish, sometimes weird, but always centered around having fun. A million props to Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Batson’s crippled friend/foster brother. That kid was amazing.
3 out of 4 stars.
P.S. Shazam! is a weird middle finger to police officers isn’t it? Like, they couldn’t find his mom? That should have been simple as hell. I can’t even begin to describe how lazy a detective would have to be to just let that slide. Good character motivation but so unrealistic you kind of understand why this universe needs superheroes.