Zachary Levi and Warner Bros. Pictures put their best foot forward in “Shazam!” With excessive humor, action and heartwarming stories about family, it is a superhero film worth watching. As much as I liked watching “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League” and “Aquaman,” I think this might be the best entry to the DC Extended Universe.
The film is about a teenager named Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel, who struggles with being separated from his mother and constantly being placed in foster care. Little does he realize that there’s more than a loving family in store for him.
One day, he comes across a powerful wizard, played by Djimon Hounsou, who gives him magical powers. By calling out “Shazam!” Billy transforms into an adult, played by Zachary Levi, and has the power of speed, flight, strength and summoning lightning. With these powers, it’s up to Shazam to save the people of Philadelphia from Thaddeus Sivana, played by Mark Strong, who has a dark agenda for the hero’s gifts.
While watching the movie, I could hear the audience cheer every time Shazam tested out his new abilities. It was funny watching him try to fly, shoot lightning bolts and become immune to gunshots.
Another thing to love about the film is the chemistry between Billy and his foster brother, Freddy Freeman, played by Jack Dylan Grazer. I loved seeing Freddy’s enthusiasm for other DC superheroes, and trying to make this one an internet celebrity. One major highlight was Freddy being there to remind Shazam to use his powers for good instead of greed, and that Billy has a family that loves him and has his back.
As for Strong as Sivana, he looked menacing when he got infused with dark powers and turned on his family and Shazam. There was some humor when he did this in a black trench coat and sunglasses hiding his glowing blue right eye. Strong’s character came off as a bit of a tragic villain, having been abused by his father and brother and being told that he’d never be a success.
In a way, Billy and Sivana are similar, as they both came from rough upbringings and have to repent their own selfish needs to become better people. Writers Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke did a great job in incorporating these ideas into the story. It’s by learning how to repent the sins of the past and rewrite the future that allows Shazam to mature.
The conflict between Hounsou’s and Strong’s characters reminded me of Jor-El and Zod in “Man of Steel.” The similarity comes from their debate over who has a better chance of survival: Someone pure of heart over someone that believes violent war will end any perceived corruption.
In addition to the humor and story, I loved the soundtrack and scoring by Benjamin Wallfisch. Songs from Queen and The Ramones add an exciting vibe to scenes featuring the hero.
Also, I appreciated the visual effects when Shazam springs into action. One thing that may throw people off is when the Seven Deadly Sins monsters begin to devour their victims.
The costume of Levi’s character was well-designed. The fancy white cape, red suit and lightning bolt symbol made Shazam look daring in combat.
As a whole, “Shazam!” is an excellent film by DC and fronted by Levi. The combination of humor, family and action makes it a film for movie and comic book fans alike. If you want to see this kind of package in a non-Marvel film for a change, I recommend you watch “Shazam!,” now playing in theaters.