Shazam is worth watching because it embraces the corny nature of super heroes. Some of that corniness lacks nuance but Shazam is still a good lighthearted adventure that will go down as one of the better DC cinematic universe films.
Shazam is DC’s entrance to magic based action (we can argue if Wonder Woman counts as magic. In the comic Justice League Dark she is not accepted by the magical community). Shazam finds a way to be silly and magical.
The lead character, Billy Batson/Shazam, is played by two actors. Asher Angel plays the everyday run of the mill foster kid with a penchant for running away and Zachary Levi plays the four color super powered hunk role in a funny bright red costume. Both give performances that live up to their characters.
The film is often uneven. At times it feels like a PG kids movie with the family all sitting around a table putting there hands together like a pregame football huddle.
But a different scene involves demons biting off the heads of business executives.
The violence comes out of nowhere, although it serves to put the villain, Dr Silvana played by Mark Strong, to the level of irredeemable evil. It was corny but exciting. As a villain Dr Silvana was thin but for the base needs of the movie along with Mark Strong’s performance Dr Silvana at least met expectations.
The only time Shazam was corny in its general negative sense were the scenes that featured the two bullies who found it okay to beat up disabled students.
The DC cinematic universe is where only super heroes go to stand up for them. There was weirdness in the way they had Jack Dylan Grazer play disabled foster child Freddy Freeman. Some of the jokes using the word “cripple” didn’t sit right for the style of the movie. Jack Dylan Grazer still played a great supporting role.
As did little foster sister Darla, played by Faithe Herman, who supplied all the cuteness in the movie.
So much of this is nitpicking. The scenes above standout because they didn’t always fit, but the movie as a whole had me smiling and rooting for the good guys to beat the irredeemable one-sided bad guy .
Somehow director David F Sandberg is able portray the dark DC universe we’ve gotten used to and plop in a goofy super hero that worked well enough.
Is it a vanilla super hero story? Yes.
Is it corny? Yes.
Is it fun? Yes it is fun.
We’re in a period where super hero is a genre. Stay away if you’re lukewarm toward the genre. But if you like comic book movies then you will like Shazam.
You just might not love it.