“Shazam!” (2019) stars Zachary Levi and Asher Angel as the titular hero, the former as the titular character and the latter as Billy Batson, the young kid who acquires the ability to turn into a superhero with the powers of a god.
The DC movies haven’t had the best track record lately, but with the 2018 release of “Aquaman,” it seemed like they were fixing things. I’m extremely happy to say that “Shazam!” does exactly that.
This movie fully embraces its silly premise of a young boy who can turn into an almighty superhero with just one word. The central family dynamic between protagonist Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his adopted foster home is excellent. I was particularly a fan of the arc Billy goes through, initially rejecting all of them, but then learning to accept them for who they are.
The movie is also hilarious. Zachary Levi as Shazam and Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s best friend Freddy Friedman easily steal the show whenever they both come on screen. Levi is great as a 14-year-old boy in the body of a full adult superhuman, and Grazer, playing his best friend, bounces off of Levi well.
For some reason, the combination of a boy in a man’s body and a disabled foster kid make for the film’s most comedic moments. Their banter and one liners fit perfectly within their relationship.
One major concern of mine before I go see any superhero movie is the villain. As a whole, they tend to just be evil for evil’s sake, with no real humanity or depth. That’s not the case here, as Mark Strong is clearly having the time of his life playing this tormented yet campy supervillain one would expect to see in an 1980s action movie. As a pseudo dark-side of our hero of sorts, he works greatly as a foil to him. Plus, his army of evil demons provide some genuine scares and moments of high stakes in an otherwise light movie.
Overall, this one delivered in ways that I never expected. With such a shoddy history and the majority of their films being misses rather than hits, I was unsure about DC’s “Shazam!” but luckily my fears were all in vain. They have managed to make a crowd pleaser in the best sense of the word.