Fandago offered a special early screening for Shazam! this past Saturday, so yes, I went to see it.
That’s the best intro I could come up for this review.
Young Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is getting one more chance at a foster home in Philadelphia. He’s a bit stand-offish and has a habit of running away, plus this home already has five foster kids living in it, most notably one Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), a fast-talking superhero junkie that needs a crutch to get around. After saving Freddy from some school bullies, Billy finds himself summoned to the Rock of Eternity by the ancient wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou). Shazam wants to give his power to someone worthy before he dies, especially as there’s a dire need for a new champion immediately. Soon, Billy discovers he can transform into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) simply by saying the word “Shazam”. He’s going to need it, too. There’s a supervillain out there, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), with plots of his own that won’t be good for anybody.
Much of this movie deals with Billy figuring out what his powers are and how they work–the wizard didn’t exactly give him an instruction manual–and needing hero fan Freddy to help him out. And given these are two 14 year olds, they don’t exactly handle the sudden influx of power in the most mature manner possible. As it is, while this is still a superhero origin story, it plays more as a comedy as a kid can use his superpowers to do the kinds of things adults do that a kid might be interested in. And the comedy worked for me. Freddy and Billy make a good team, and the other foster kids work to one degree or another. That said, the Sivana scenes almost seem to come from a different movie, giving the movie a different tone at times. I largely liked the movie, but it wasn’t perfect. And if anything, it helped the DCEU become a more distinct entity considering the last three solo hero movies have all had a different feel towards them, all of them distinct from the dark, unpleasant tone of too many of the earlier movies. As it is, Shazam! is probably a good superhero movie to take the kids to see, plus longtime Captain Marvel fans (you know, the guy DC calls Shazam these days) will get a lot of nice Easter Eggs tossed in along the way. 8 out of 10 scared Santas.
By the by, most of the Geeks saw this one last Saturday, and there was a healthy debate over the quality of the movie. My grade came in around the midway point. Make of that what you will.