Lighthearted And Fun;
But Nothing Exceptional;
This is a decent enough holdover while we all wait for Endgame, if you’re the type who can’t get enough superhero action. The new feel is fresh, with a teenager unwittingly acquiring multiple powers he doesn’t know how to control. But unlike your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Billy Batson can turn his powers off and on on at will by yelling the word Shazam! The film doubles as an origin story and a warning against the dangers of bullying and holding the notion of power over anything else of importance, while also celebrating makeshift families sticking together and creating a home for each other.
What will stick out to everyone here is the relentless sense of fun throughout. Gayden’s script has a lot to laugh at, and the breezy tone helps to counteract the slightly excessive 132 minute runtime. It features no shortage of awkward laughs, which should help the fierce DC critics do the impossible and actually enjoy themselves for once. Sure, Justice League and Aquaman addressed some of those underlying issues, but this is a whole different animal.
For me, the laughs were the only really memorable aspect of the film. Horror director David F. Sandberg has created something that is, frankly, jarring at times for what I expected to be a light, kid-centric hero movie. He also seems to miss the mark in a finale that was crowded, messy and somewhat confusing. But when transitioning from films like Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation to this, I’d say he did a decent job.
Zachary Levi is the glue holding everything together. He is 100% dedicated to the role and has a blast the whole time. I imagine there is a lot of wonderful B-roll to he unearthed for the DVD release. From the suit to his expressions and vocal mannerisms, he is a treat to watch. Mark Strong is fine as the villain (he has always had a villain-y face to me), but there about five too many shots of his dramatically removing his sunglasses. We get it, bro…you’re the bad guy. I really enjoyed Faithe Herman as Darla and was stoked to see a big screen role for Cooper Andrews (The Walking Dead’s favorite son of The Kingdom, Jerry) as the foster dad using his quirks to hold his family together and strengthen his kids.
This is a fine little distraction and will definitely please crowds with its blend of action, humor and scares, but it doesn’t accomplish a whole lot.
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