I. Shank

I. Shank

Ian Shank, Entertainment Writer

“Shazam!” is the seventh installment in the DCEU releasing just a little over three months since the release of “Aquaman.” Following suit with “Wonder Woman,” and “Aquaman,” “Shazam!” is much lighter in tone and is the most comedy-centric of all the DCEU films. I have a love-hate relationship with the DCEU. I thought “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” were good but could’ve been great with a few tweaks (not snapping Zodd’s neck, for instance), I thought “Suicide Squad” and “Wonder Woman” were very good adaptations of their source material, but “Justice League” failed for several reasons (some of which were caused by actual tragedies while others were script and CGI issues), and “Aquaman” was a bloated mess of a film that wasted director James Wan’s potential (we’ve seen him pull off high budget action films before with “Furious 7” with good results). So, I didn’t know what to expect going in. Walking out I thought to myself “That was easily one of the best DCEU films, but, I don’t know how well it will hold up with subsequent rewatches.”

Reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s 2002 “Spider-Man,” “Shazam!” tells the story of a teenage boy, Billy Batson, who receives powers and throughout the movie realizes and comes to terms with his newly-found abilities. Director David F. Sandberg and actor Zachary Levi infuse a vibrant comedic energy throughout the film; particularly during one sequence with Shazam discovering his new abilities overlapped with Queen’s “Can’t Stop Me Now.” Like “Aquaman,” “Shazam!”’s director, David F. Sandberg roots are instilled in the horror genre. You can certainly tell that with the design of the seven sins, villains in the film that look more like demons straight out of Dante’s “The Inferno.” In addition, when the sins attack in one particular instance, the scene plays out more like something out of “The Cabin in The Woods” as opposed to PG-13 superhero flick.

Zachary Levi is perfect casting for the role of Shazam. Zachary Levi, best known for his work on the now-cancelled “Chuck,” perfectly resembles what it means to be a “man-child.” He’s goofy, slightly immature, but fun to watch nonetheless. He should be thankful that he died in the MCU allowing him to crossover for a much better position in the DCEU.

The film’s biggest detractor is the weak villain. Coming off the heels of some of the best comic book villain portrayals in 2018 (Michael B. Jordan in “Black Panther” and Josh Brolin in “Avengers: Infinity War”), it was disappointing to see Mark Strong’s Dr. Sivana be wasted of it’s full potential. His motive is very shallow and a little unclear (He wants to be powerful and maybe show his dad how great he’s become). Mark Strong is such a good actor and is no stranger to comic book films starring in both “Kingsman” films. But even he has to admit that the potential of his role was squandered.

Jack Landon-Graser is also good in the film. He’s essentially reprising his role from “It” for this movie. He’s the sarcastic know-it-all that also tries to be Shazam’s moral compass in select scenes.

In the end, “Shazam!” is a fun film and a good time at the theatres minus a few detractors. With the success of this film, as well as “Aquaman,” it will be interesting to see what becomes of the DCEU.