Hands! Lightning from my hands! Lightning from my hands!
My take on Shazam is basically the same as every other internet critic out there. It’s DC lightening up (also lightning up, but more on that later) and that’s a good move and also results in a delightful film. The premise, which finds young Billy Batson able to transform himself into an adult superhero, is tailor made for hijinks. And that is what Sandberg delivers, with help from a game cast. Zachary Levi basically carries the bulk of the movie on his shoulders and he absolutely nails his performance, utterly believable as a teen in the body of a super-hero. Jack Dylan Grazer is excellent in support as Billy’s new found foster brother. Mark Strong is exactly the villain this movie needed, a guy ready to play this silly movie like it was Hamlet. He brings an edge and a darkness to the movie that cuts all the sweetness in just the right measure. There’s a particularly brilliant scene in a corporate boardroom where Sandberg reminds the viewer that he’s made his bones in the horror genre; it’s gripping and genuinely frightening. Even though I wished the movie had done a bit more to distinguish between the Sins our hero finds himself up against, I still through they were genuinely wonderful creations, and the way they flowed out of smoke and fog was striking and compelling. The special effects on those creatures were particularly well done. What Shazam ultimately delivers is just a great time at the movies with plenty of laughs and a few scares along the way. The movie goes for some real emotional weight in a couple of areas and Asher Angel does pretty well in the scenes revolving around his search for his birth mother. The movie, ultimately, is about, you know, how the families we build are often more meaningful than the families we’re originally given. It isn’t handled here with quite the sensitivity and wisdom as in Shoplifters or anything, but it’s a noble sentiment handled well enough for a movie of its type. Shazam delivers entertainment in a classic style formula: two or three chuckles to every tear; a belly laugh for every shiver. It’s good, old-fashioned fun. I dunno about that credits scene though, guys; I really don’t know. 4 stars.
tl;dr – lighthearted, irresistibly entertaining and fun comic book movie is good-old fashioned movie magic; great performances and smart direction check all the blockbuster boxes. 4 stars.