Shazam! (2019) is directed by David F. Sandberg.
Young Billy Batson has been entrusted with ancient magical powers that transforms him into an adult whenever he says ‘SHAZAM!’ Now he is out to help defeat Dr Sivana.
The synopsis sounds plain, but make no mistake, this movie is not. SHAZAM! is anything but plain, it is anything but ordinary; what it boils down to is 2 hours and 12 minutes of flawlessly blended entertainment.
This DC Comics adaptation of the B-list superhero is one of the finest comic book films I’ve seen in recent memory. SHAZAM! managed to excel because it juggled characters, tone and action into a liberatingly light-hearted yet still stakes heavy story.
Sandberg previously directed Lights Out, and the horror stamp is easily felt in certain sequences, one of which involving the massacre of a board room full of people, which genuinely terrified me.
‘Superman meets Big’ is the ideal summation of what SHAZAM! feels like. This movie is a heap of fun. It’s chock full of hard laughs but it never leaves the characters dilemmas go unchecked.
The relationship between Billy and Freddy is very well done and the actors do a fantastic job at expressing what they want with this power and the conflict that comes with that. Billy starts using it in vein, but Freddy wants to be a proper hero and he’s repulsed at Billy squandering the gift away so carelessly. I really liked this angle and how it’s executed.
It’s not just a movie about super-heroics and flashy effects, SHAZAM!’is a movie about family and finding your place around people who care about you. It makes the movie feel relatable and endearing.
All of the actors who played the foster siblings are fantastic. They each had memorable personalities and, when the stakes got high, I didn’t want to see them get hurt.
Zachary Levi as the grown-up Billy Batson was pitch perfect. So likeable, so funny, so charismatic, he was an absolute joy. Mark Strong as Sivana was also really good and was appropriately threatening but you can tell that he wasn’t the focus, this didn’t bother me one bit because I was so invested in Billy.
I was intrigued by the mystical lore, I loved the ‘training montage’ sequences and it manages to stand on its own quite firmly in the DCEU. I loved how it just focused on being a good movie and not setting up a sequel, spin off or a team up movie.
All SHAZAM! needed was its own strengths. Its storytelling was buoyantly conscious, the characters were great, the action was a lot of fun, the humour excelled, and the theme was clear. It’s a wonderful feeling to belong, and this movie successfully immerses you in that.
Three words for Shazam!: colourful, pragmatic, joyful.
Written by Seán Mac G.