Shazam is fun. If I could leave that as review and be done I would. But the truth is while we are still being heavily indunuated with massive superhero movies on a nearly bi monthly basis, Shazam is a breath of fresh air. It’s nice for a superhero film to take step back from the smackdown theatrics into something a little more warm, a little more simple, and most of all a little more human. If anything the closest counter part to Shazam is Spider-Man, and that mainly stems from the fact that the titular chacater is in fact a kid. And that human quality alone is enough to make Shazam stand out from all the rest.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, the director takes a step back from his horror roots for something a little more family friendly as Shazam stars Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as the titular hero and kid Billy Batson. Billy a runaway orphan who finds himself with a new family, one day stumbles across the Wizard Shazam, who grants him his powers after Mark Strong’s villainous Thaddeus Sivanna unleashes the Seven Deadly Sins. What follows is Billy and his best friend Freddy Freeman (Played by breakout star from IT, Jack Dylan Grazer) as they navigate what powers he now has and how to use them. Essentially like Thor: Ragnarok, Shazam plays more like a comedy than a straight up superhero flick. In fact for rather a large part of the film we spend with just Batson and Freeman and their antics. And you know what? It works. These feel like real kids, who would do something as real as film their super powers and put it on Youtube. It and they are hilarious, and some of the biggest laughs from them both.
As said before the nice thing about Shazam is its relative low stakes, and that applies to its central villain. While there is a somewhat sympathetic edge to him, Strong gives a competent performance that comes from a place any kid might had they’d grown up in the environment he did. He won’t win any awards, and doesn’t contain the depth that Patrick Wilson’s Orm does from Aquaman, but he works here. My only problem is that I wish he was given a bigger sympathetic arc to see where he was when we first meet him, and where he ends up towards the end of the film. With a heavy theme of family throughout, it would have been nice to see the parallel point of our hero character have some form of self-actualization that resonates seeing as how much we follow him. The Seven Deadly Sins are fun enough, but seeing as they are all CGI, they didn’t leave much of an impression, nor were they ever really exploited for the namesakes they carry.
Theres a good chance I may have enjoyed Shazam a lot more than Aquaman, and even better chance I enjoyed it more than Captain Marvel. Hell I’d wager its funnier than both Deadpool films. And while it may not have the bombast of the latter two entries, it has heart. As much heart I’d argue as Into the Spiderverse. And while you may not be moved to tears like that film, you’ll get a good laugh, or several. And you’ll root for Batson and his family as they are so pure and likable. And they get more than a few cheer worthy moments before the credits roll. Shazam is simple, clean fun, and it’s a nice reprieve from the absolute onslaught that is Avengers: Endgame which will be here in only a few short weeks. And while one of the two post credit scenes threw me for a loop (Which is super odd), I’m curious to see where the sequel (If there is one) goes.