Shazam! comes directed by David F. Sandberg who some may know as the director of Annabelle Creation (2017) or Lights Out (2016). The film stars Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, Grace Fulton and John Glover.
Shazam! is the latest film to be released that takes place in the DC cinematic universe of films. It is based on Shazam! who as a comic book character first appeared in 1939 and back then was known as Captain Marvel. The character over the years has gone through several transformations, legal lawsuits and relaunches and is now known as Shazam! The name of the character comes from the immortal elders who give him his powers, these are Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury, and ! and it is the first letter of all these immortals that spells out Shazam!
Going in to see Shazam! at the cinema I was interested to see what they could do with this film, but I wasn’t ever really a fan of the comic book character much in the past. Basically what happens here with this character is that Shazam! really is just a kid. The real identity of Shazam! is Billy Batson, who is a kid attending high school. When he says the name Shazam! he transforms into the perfect version of himself and has insane super powers. In many ways Shazam! is very similar to Superman and is also very similar to Marvel’s Captain Marvel, his powers are incredibly strong and he has very little weaknesses. As the film went on, I slowly started to like Shazam! and for the first time, I thought that the dynamic of switching between an adult character and a kid character was actually rather good. This was possible due to the solid character development of Billy Batson and his backstory.
The development of the Billy Batson character is the central point of focus for much of the film. Shazam! has quite strong themes related to the importance of family and also growing up to be one’s best self. The film’s main character Billy is a foster child, who never really knew his parents .We see the character struggle being alone and wanting to have his real family back. He will never get his family back though, they just don’t want him. This hurts the character quite a lot and we see as an audience how difficult being a foster child can be. In many ways, Shazam! is quite similar in its main themes and messaging to this year’s Instant Family (which was an excellent film). I actually consider Shazam! to be the superhero version of what Instant Family was. It is the developing of Billy Batson throughout the film, mixed with strong themes of family and friends which makes Shazam! a special experience at the cinema and also a character you can come to care for. The characterisation of Billy Batson, then later balancing that with what Shazam! is, while having two different actors play the same person and pulling that off is honestly quite impressive.
Another highlight of the Shazam! experience was that the tone of the film being somewhat lighthearted. Having all these connected films in the same universe has been quite difficult for DC. In the beginning they tried to go quite dark with the initial Superman and later Batman V Superman film, then after Justice League there was a little bit of a switch to something a little lighter with Aquaman which audiences loved and now we have Shazam! which is in the same universe as all of these films, but manages to find the right tone of its own and it works. The DC Universe now has three quite entertaining films within it with Aquaman, Wonder Woman and now Shazam! things are starting to look up for the franchise.
The actors in Shazam! are okay. We have a lot of kids in this one and while i’m not too much of a fan of watching kid actors, for the most part they are all rather good. Out of the bunch, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer get the most screen time and did well in their role. But the actor who shined the most was Zachary Levi as Shazam! he brought the right amount of charisma and energy to the role and I’d like to see more from him with this character.
With so many kid actors and the tone of Shazam! being quite light hearted, I’d say that this film is quite a good family experience at the cinema. While something like Batman v Superman or even Justice League were quite dark and maybe more geared towards adults, Shazam! is one of the few films I’d say that teens or younger teens might enjoy. The only impediment to this is that the film is rated M, but I can see 15 and 16 year olds really enjoying this one.
Special effects in Shazam! are rather good. Warner Brothers seems to have mastered to the look and style of the DC Universe films at this point and things look rather good on the cinema screen. There are heavy levels of CGI in this film and they are decent. No film this year is ever going to get on the same level as Alita: Battle Angel, but special effects are rather good for a film on Shazam!’s budget. There are many monster/demons to see and also a bunch of brawls between Shazam! and the film’s villain.
Overall Shazam! is a decent film experience and one that I’d recommend to any superhero fan to see this week. The character brings something fresh to the DC Universe of films and has a promising future within that universe. The film’s strength stems from its strong backing of the Billy Batson character, where the character is slowly developed as the film goes on. Secondly, Zachary Levi brought a lot of charisma and energy to the role of Shazam! and did exceptionally well with the character. I do hope we get to see more of Shazam! in later DC Universe films, which are looking much more promising lately. Happy to recommend seeing the film this weekend at the cinema.