Say the name.
The DC Universe on film has been going through some major shakeups recently. Several actors have left or been recast, movies have shifted schedules or have been cancelled, and the critical reactions have been mixed. In my opinion, Aquaman was a huge home run for DC, with an epic scale and thrilling story comparable to Avatar. Now, Shazam! Is another fantastic superhero adventure from WB, and DC, I am happy to report.
The movie draws heavily from Geoff Johns, and Gary Frank’s take on the character in the New 52 era, and that was a smart choice. That story arc was great in developing the real character of Billy Batson before Shazam, and the movie expands on it even further. The interaction between Billy’s foster family, and Billy searching for his birth mother, is really well done. It’s an aspect you don’t see in superhero movies, and that is why it feels fresh. All the supporting cast is good, but Freddie and Darla are definitely the most fun, and have the best lines to work with. Asher Angel does a great job as Billy, as well. He has to interact with Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddie for most of the movie, and their chemistry is great.
The two powerhouses of the movie, however, are Zachary Levi as Shazam, and Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana. Levi was born to play a superhero. He handles the serious moments, the comedy, and the action scenes so well. You believe that he is Shazam in the way that Christopher Reeve was Superman. I loved that Dr Sivana was actually a truly evil villain. You don’t see the villain rack up a body count in that way these days (aside from maybe Thanos). There are good surprises with his character, and the movie in general, so I’m keeping things vague. Trust me when I say, just go see this movie. It’s awesome.
I loved that the comedic aspects of the movie felt consistent with the tone. Many superhero movies recently have felt the need to undercut serious moments with a stale joke, ruining the moment. The comedy in this movie is used when appropriate, thus making it funnier. Any of the serious moments that need to have stakes, don’t feel like they are overshadowed by comedy. It’s a good balance.
David F. Sandberg started as a horror director, but he is very versatile. The action, and overall direction of this movie felt more cinematic than some other movies like this. Shots and sequences are staged in a way that felt very similar to Man of Steel, and I mean that as a compliment, as I love Man of Steel. Overall, the direction and visual style were on point, and something that needs to be seen on the big screen.
As far as easter eggs, and fan service, if you know Shazam, you will be satisfied. The last shot of this movie made me so happy. That’s all I’m saying. There are two post credits scenes, so stick around for those.
Shazam! Definitely sits high on my favourite DC Comics movies, and I highly recommend you check it out if you like superheroes, or just well done action-adventure. Now if we could just get some news on that Black Adam movie with The Rock…
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