If you’re looking for a family-friendly entry to the cinematic DC universe, Shazam! is your ticket! Lighthearted, funny, and full of positive messages, this film will appeal to kids and adults alike.
That being said, I didn’t think it was all that great.
Let me explain why.
First of all, I would like to say that Zachary Levi absolutely shined in Shazam! Like Paul Rudd, there is something unarguably likable about this man, so he proved the perfect actor for the role. Levi’s a big fella which made him more than capable of filling the hero’s boots, but he’s also got a playful side to him that allowed the audience to believe there’s a teenage boy in there.
Furthermore, the children acting in this film were wonderful, too, especially the two leads, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. These two young men were really fun to watch in action. They also have a foster family other children, all of whom were distinct and entertaining in their own right. The script and the actors did a nice job of keeping these young characters both charming and likable.
Lastly, I’ve got to rave about the costume. When the still first came out, folks were bashing the Shazam costume. Let me tell you — it looks great on film. I think it may be my favorite super hero costume yet to grace the big screen. It’s modern yet classic, streamlined yet flashy, warm yet very, very cool. Much of the film takes place in the daylight, so you really get to see it in all its glory. Whatever team created that costume should be proud.
However, I do have some issues with the film.
My biggest complaint is that you’ve already seen the best parts. The didn’t save anything for the actual film — they gave you all the best stuff in the trailers. The best lines, the best jokes, the best “wow” moments … you’ve seen them all already. That really disappointed me.
Also, it took way too long for Zachary Levi to arrive. The movie starts with a focus on the villain, and it’s a good twenty minutes before we even get to Shazam. Once Levi appears things liven up quite a bit, but it took awhile to get there.
Finally, the resolution is pretty apparent early in the film. You probably guessed this from the trailers, but the focus on family is a driving force of the plot. This isn’t a bad thing–not at all–but it also didn’t offer much else.
In fact, that’s Shazam’s greatest misstep. There are no goose-bump moments. When Wonder Woman climbed out of that trench and charged the enemy — goose-bumps. When Arthur Curry walked out of the waterfall in the Aquaman costume — goose-bumps. When Superman and Batman stood toe to toe for the first time ever on film — many, many goose-bumps! Shazam! didn’t have a moment like that. Shazam’s journey in the film has been done hundreds of times before.
Of course, I don’t think I’m the target audience for this movie. Shazam has always been aimed at kids. What fourteen-year-old doesn’t fantasize about being a big, strong, independent adult? I’m really excited to see what my students think of Shazam! Will it appeal to their sensibilities more than mine? We’ll see. After all, the entire plot really revolves around two teenage boys along with their foster brothers and sisters.
If you’re looking for a fairly innocent family film, though, this could be for you. There is a little bit of profanity, so be warned, and I’m told there is one violent moment that struck my friends as tonally inconsistent with the rest of the film. Apparently, this occurred while I was in the bathroom. I’d have no problem taking my ten-year-old to it, but I would probably keep my six-year-old out due to language and some scary monsters.
So while Zachary Levi is really fun to watch, and while there are some very funny moments, I’m afraid the best parts of Shazam! were already shown during the trailers.
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