Okay, this movie is way better than it had any business being.
I was not expecting a lot, especially after the forever lingering sting of Joss Whedon’s Justice League (Yes, I do believe that Zack Snyder’s film was basically redone), and the seemingly beginner’s-luck-success of James Wan’s epic Aquaman (which I legitimately enjoyed). However, DC has done right with bringing us Director David F. Sandberg’s Shazam!
(Some spoilers ahead)
Billy Batson spent his entire childhood searching for his biological mother, and has landed in countless foster homes along the way. His latest detour finds him in the care of a family that he actually grows to love. He will have to protect his new family, and the world, against a villain who wants to steal and abuse the abilities bestowed upon him amidst a centuries old crisis.
Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as Billy Batson/Shazam have an unusually good consistency in their joint performance. Angel nails the angsty yet kind-hearted teen act, while Levi effortlessly portrays an excited version of the same teen who can transform into an alpha-body-builder physique equipped with magical powers at will.
Shazam!’s emotional beats are the kind you’ve come to respect as the only redeemable qualities of DC’s movies. There are moments where the characters’ emotional honesty and vulnerability really stand out among the jokes and punches. For the sake of huge spoilers, I must keep silent, but you will find yourself surprised each time you arrive at the film’s more dramatic moments.
The stakes are simultaneously low and high. It never feels as though the world is in any danger, but the intensity increases as the people that Billy has come to love become more and more at risk. The comedic moments are also so well placed that it never feels as though they stand out unnecessarily. The jokes in general are real good too, and never feel forced.
Now, the key to DC’s recent successes, including Shazam!, are likely due to adapting the comics written by super-star writer, Geoff Johns. Many of Johns’s Aquaman arcs were adapted for James Wan’s film, and the same is true of Shazam! Fortunately for DC, the writer’s comic book contributions are endless, and that means more successful adaptations should be on their way.
Featured Image Via Warner Bros.