I had the opportunity to see Shazam early, and I was not disappointed. I became a fan of the character after seeing him on Young Justice several years ago. I didn’t really know anything about the character until that point, but after seeing him in action, I did all I could to learn about him. I hadn’t read the comics (I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to read up on 50-something years of comic history. Sue me), but I did research the character and find other animated works that he’s appeared in over the years. Suffice it to say that when a live-action adaptation was announced, I was understandably excited.
It’s no secret that DC’s attempts at a shared universe have been pretty terrible. Man of Steel started off alright, but the following films left a lot to be desired. I am of the opinion that both Batman Vs. Superman and Justice League are bad films. I won’t go into why (there isn’t enough time for me to rant about those two films here), but I couldn’t help but feel DC had no idea what they were doing. Suicide Squad wasn’t much better (and Jared Leto as Joker? No thanks). Wonder Woman surprised the hell out of me, though. I thought it was an amazing film. I loved it so much I went out to buy it on 4k Blu-Ray so I can re-watch it over and over again. Aquaman wasn’t as good as Wonder Woman in my opinion, but still pretty good. All signs pointed to DC having learned from its mistakes.
That takes us to Shazam. When Zachary Levi was cast, I cocked my head to the side in confusion. The guy who played Chuck, a nerd-turned-spy? Him? Never in a million years did I expect that to happen. After seeing him in action, though, I can safely say he was the right choice. It’s not so much that he looks the part, but he acts the part. He definitely acts as if he’s a 15-year-old kid trapped in a man’s body. He has a playful innocence to him when he plays Shazam. He’s a clueless 15-year-old kid who was suddenly gifted with incredible superpowers, the full scope of which he hasn’t even begun to discover. Whenever he got to use his powers, I got really excited. Whenever he was learning about his powers, I was laughing hysterically. This movie is very much about Billy Batson learning how to use his newfound powers, as well as how to be a superhero.
His relationship with Freddy was also a particular highlight. Freddy is the expert on superheroes, and quickly became a good friend and confidante for Billy. The chemistry between Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer (the actor who played Freddy) was fantastic, almost electric. They played off each other excellently.
Overall, the movie has a lot of heart and was made by people who love and respect the source material. There is a clear love for Shazam by the production team, and the performances by everyone was absolutely fantastic. The action scenes had me excited and made me wish I could fly and lift cars. The ending had more than a few surprises in store, and for those that are familiar with Shazam’s comic canon, there are some nice surprises in store for you. Also, like with every superhero movie these days, don’t leave the theater until the screen goes black. Trust me. As a side note, if this movie had come out when I was in elementary school, I would definitely have been the kid running around the playground yelling “SHAZAM!” at the top of my lungs.