by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: April 5
Director: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, and Asher Angel
Mister Marquee Says: LEGENDARY
Foster kid Billy Batson (Zachary Levi ) is brought to a secret dimension by an aging wizard and given the power to combat the seven deadly sins, whom the wizard and his fallen comrades swore to defeat. When Billy says “Shazam” he is transformed into an adult superhero with super strength, super speed, invulnerability, flight, and lighting strikes. A 14 year-old who can turn into an adult superhero by saying a wizard’s name is a really silly premise for a superhero movie, and Shazam goes all in with that silliness.
Shazam is the best of the DCEU movies, and it’s not even close. I really enjoyed Aquaman, but the heart and pure fun of Shazam blows it out of the water. Once Billy gets his powers, which he and his foster brother Freddy test in a hilarious series of viral videos, Billy does about what you’d expect a 14-year-old to do with superpowers: he buys beer, shows off, tries to make money, and enters a strip club. Billy’s relationship with his foster family, who he attempts to keep at arm’s length, and his quest to find his biological mother lead to some heartwarming stuff. It’s also impossible not to fall in love with Billy’s foster family, who are just so likeable. Even the villain, Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who admittedly devolves into generic evil guy, is rooted in a good story.
The opening scenes show Sivana’s own brush with Shazam and the seven deadly sins, and how it affected the rest of his life. Some of the fight scenes may be lacking, but they aren’t anywhere near as messy as the bad DCEU fight scenes in Man of Steel or Justice League, or even the underwater battles that were impossible to follow in Aquaman. Forget greater ambitions like shared universes or big ideas. Shazam! is a superhero movie distilled down to its most basic element: pure joy.