Movie review: ‘Shazam’

Review by Dustin Heller

It’s not even summer and we already have another superhero movie hitting the box office.  Shazam! is the latest installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and is based on the DC Comics character of the same name.  The movie is directed by David F. Sandberg, who has made a name for himself in the horror genre.

Zachary Levi of the hit televisions series Chuck plays Shazam and Asher Angel plays Billy Batson, the teenager who transforms into the titular superhero.  Additional cast members include Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, and Djimon Hounsou.  Shazam! is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material.

Billy Batson is an orphan who wants nothing more than to find the mother who’s been missing since he was a little boy.  Upon getting arrested in an attempt to locate her, Billy is sent to live with a kind and loving foster family.  After a random series of events, Billy finds himself at the Rock of Eternity standing face to face with the wizard Shazam, who grants him superpowers that transform Billy into a superhero-costumed adult. All he has to do is utter the word, “Shazam!”

Trying to navigate these newfound powers, Billy becomes a viral sensation and distances himself from his new family.  Little does he know he is being hunted by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who wants nothing more than to destroy Shazam.  Even with otherworldly powers, Billy quickly realizes he can’t do everything by himself and must rely on his family to survive.

Shazam! isn’t your typical superhero movie–and it doesn’t want to be.  It is meant to be funny and doesn’t take itself as seriously as the other entries in the DCEU.  The script is lighthearted and entertaining and even does a nice job of serving as an origin story.

The biggest issue I had with the entire film was that the personalities of the young boy and the older Shazam didn’t match at all.  The boy was very serious and determined, whereas Shazam was goofy and acted like a dumb kid.  It was hard for me to not dwell on this fact and it really took away from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Another thing that was a little off-putting was the CGI.  In the world we live in today, there is no excuse for amateur-looking special effects for a big superhero movie.  Perhaps the studio didn’t want to inflate the budget, but it shows in the end product.

Overall, Shazam! isn’t a disaster, it just didn’t live up to its potential.  No need to rush out to the theaters for this one.

Grade:  C-

Shazam! opens in theaters on Friday, April 5

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