After the darkness of the more recent DC Comics movies like Batman v Superman, Shazam! injects some much needed humour and a far lighter tone to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). This is a film that wants to have fun, and that’s achieved through a fantastic cast who all play their roles well. The result is an endlessly entertaining and very funny caper that hits all of its notes pitch perfectly.
Zachary Levi (from TV series Chuck and the voice of Flynn Rider in Tangled) leads the line as Shazam, an adult superhero that 14 year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) transforms into after an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) bestows onto him incredible powers. Those powers don’t go unnoticed by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), a man who was overlooked for this gift when he was a boy, and who now seeks to wield the power for nefarious means.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman have given the DCEU some hits of late, so it’s nice to find Shazam! bettering both of those to deliver the most rewarding movie in this current universe. David F. Sandberg, whose previous hits were the horror double of Lights Out and the vastly underrated Annabelle: Creation gives Shazam! a very distinct feel. Ultimately, this is a story about family, and whilst the carnage and peril are very much on a global scale, Shazam! manages to centre the story locally and that really helps with the characters and Billy’s personal journey and development.
I’ve been a fan of Zachary Levi for years so I’m delighted he has a big budget superhero franchise behind him now. I really hope we get more Shazam films because they really capture a magic that has been lacking in the DCEU and in Zachary Levi, they have found the perfect leading man. Affable, funny and perfectly capable of bringing the smackdown when called upon, Levi is a revelation here and is the main reason Shazam works so well as a movie.
He co-leads the film with Asher Angel as the teenage Billy Batson, who also shines onscreen. Just as important as Shazam is as a character, Angel delivers an assured turn as a foster child who is struggling to find his place in the world. He also carries a lot of the films emotional weight, and the story about him being lost from his mother at an early age brings up some really poignant moments that do much more than just advance the plot.
On that note, the strength of the ensemble is fantastic and they needed to be, especially when it comes to Billy’s new foster family. Jack Dylan Grazer does a wonderful job as Billy’s best friend/new foster brother and he shares such an organic rapport with both leads that his scnes with Levi and Angel are always super funny and genuinely entertaining. He is a gem and plays a big role in the success of the movie.
Grace Fulton, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, and Faithe Herman really do great work here too, conjuring up a wonderful family dynamic that gives the film plenty of heart. Mark Strong is his usual, assured self and plays the bad guy with suitable aplomb and the ageless Djimon Hounsou is great in his cameo as The Wizard Shazam. There’s even a welcome return to the big screen for cult favourite John Glover as Thaddeus’ disapproving father. Michelle Borth, Adam Brody, Meagan Good, D.J. Cotrona and Ross Butler make great cameos too.
Shazam! is the latest must-see movie in IMAX – A viewing experience that elevates every aspect of the film. This is a story with lots of fantastical elements and they come vividly to live in IMAX screens, with a depth of vision and crystal clarity that really deliver the film in a way that the filmmakers would have wanted you to experience it. Add in the sound and the size of the screen and you will be guaranteed a great night out. I’ve been a fan of IMAX for years and I think certain films really benefit from the format. Shazam! is one of them.
Shazam! is a fantastic action-packed family Superhero film that isn’t afraid to be funny. Heroic and hilarious with plenty of heart, a wonderful cast, great special effects (Zachary Levi is literally electric) and a very real sense of what kind of a movie it wants to be, Shazam is a big triumph that’s terrific fun for all ages. Throw in a really cool finale full of great surprises and you have the best DCEU movie for years, and one that I sincerely hope gets a sequel sooner rather than later.
Cast: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou, Grace Fulton, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, Faithe Herman, John Glover, Michelle Borth, Adam Brody, Meagan Good, D.J. Cotrona, Ross Butler Director: David F. Sandberg Writer: Henry Gayden, Darren Lemke Certificate: 12A Duration: 132mins Released by: Warner Bros Release date: 5th April 2019