Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel
Director: David F. Sandberg
Running Time: 132 mins
Shazam! is an American film about a teenage boy living in foster care who is unexpectedly bestowed with the power to turn into a superhero, and save his new family and the city of Philadelphia from a powerful villain.
This film is a heap of fun from beginning to end. Not only does it have brilliant, fun-loving superhero fantasy and action, but it’s also filled to the brim with charming, bright humour that even the most cynical of viewers won’t be able to help smiling at. Thanks to an immensely likeable lead turn from Zachary Levi, as well as a fantastic collection of performances from the film’s very young cast, Shazam! is a hugely endearing movie that I had great fun with right the way through.
Before I get into all that, however, one of the most striking and arguably best things about Shazam! is the fact that, despite being a DC Extended Universe film, it feels totally separate from all of the higgledy-piggledy world building of the past six years. For all DC’s problems in emulating Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Shazam! offers up a fresh step back from those efforts, and as such proves a much purer and undeniably more enjoyable watch than any other film in the whole franchise.
So, it’s best to go into this film with no expectation of greater links to the rest of the DCEU, because it will make this so much more delightful. In comparison to some of the more drab, serious entries in DC’s recent canon, Shazam! feels almost entirely like a family movie, but it’s that pure and innocent sense of fun and wonder that makes the movie so irresistibly charming.
Above all, it’s really funny. For all the comic book fantasy and action, what really makes this movie work is the comedy, and even over the course of its (arguably overlong) 132 minute runtime, it kept me laughing and smiling on a consistent basis. Not only is there simple, family-friendly humour, but also surprisingly smart, often self-referential comedy, all of which is easily enough to entertain viewers of all backgrounds and ages right the way through.
The dialogue is sharp and snappy throughout, while the lead turn from Zachary Levi is full of such energy and bright-eyed excitement that you won’t be able to escape the film’s sheer entertainment value. And on top of that, the collection of performances from young stars Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer and more really bring the film’s sense of innocent fun and wonder to life in delightful fashion, something that often really falls by the wayside in similar superhero movies.
When it comes to the story, there are times when Shazam! misses the mark when it comes to delivering something genuinely exciting or unpredictable – although it really impresses with the main character’s back story, with striking emotional depth that comes out of absolutely nowhere. With that being said, the light-hearted atmosphere and hilarious comedy are more than enough to carry the weight of the movie, and although it never quite engrosses you to a deeper degree, the movie is so much fun that you really won’t be bothered.
Overall, I had a heap of fun with Shazam!. A bright-eyed, light-hearted and endlessly delightful movie that features fantastic comedy and charming superhero fantasy, it’s a hugely entertaining watch from beginning to end, even if it doesn’t quite have the narrative chops to rival the best comic book movies of all, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7.