Shazam! is one of those movies we fans have been waiting for, for a long time. Last week, Wednesday, March 20, James and I were able to not only interview Zachary Levi, Director David F. Sandberg, and Peter Safran, but we were also able to attend an early screening. Now that the embargo has finally lifted, James and I can share a collaborated spoiler-free review of the movie!
In general, this movie is executed brilliantly. David F. Sandberg did a great job capturing the dark past of both Sivana (Mark Strong) and Billy Batson (Asher Angel). Honestly, with the opening scene, the first thing I thought was the resemblance of Burton’s Batman as it was shot in a very dark way. Sandberg brought a new DCU era to light with his own personal stamp, which works perfectly for the film. I was scared to see this film for its storyline. I mentioned before that Billy Batson’s story is rather sad, but luckily for us, the film is able to find a very nice balance between being sad and being incredibly funny.
The moment Mark Strong became the well-known villain called Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, was the moment a new kind of villain entered the screen. Everything Sivana does is for a reason, and in some way, you could see where he was coming from and why he did everything the way he did it. Mark Strong is a very passionate villain that brings chills as soon as you lay eyes on him.
Zachary Levi does such a fantastic job at being Shazam. In comparison to other heroes, I genuinely believe he was the hardest one to get right. Not because of his immense power, which definitely shines through during the film, but because Levi had to essentially pretend to be a child. That’s not an easy thing to do, and in my opinion, it has only been done brilliantly one other time by Tom Hanks in Big. Everything that Shazam does in the movie brings out the inner child in all of us. In many ways, Shazam and Billy are two very relatable characters in the sense that if I had powers, I would use them for fun, and I think what the film highlights so brilliantly is that these powers come with responsibilities and that is something Billy doesn’t quite understand.
All in all this movie was a joy to watch. It was serious when it needed to be and brought some light into the darkness of the DCU. If you compare it to a dark movie like Avengers: Infinity War where the humor was kind of in the way of the serious moments, and you found yourself laughing while something huge was happening in the scene directly after that. Shazam! had a way of finding the middle ground between the humor and the approaching danger.
James: I think a superhero film that relies a lot on comedy is incredibly risky, so a part of me was nervous about Shazam!. While I absolutely loved Aquaman, I think it struggled to make people laugh, so with their next release focusing purely on a young teenager becoming a superhero, I was slightly concerned. However, while a few of the jokes and gags didn’t land entirely for me, it was incredibly funny. There have been a few recent superhero films that, to me, focused purely on comedy and some audiences love it, and some hate it, but I think Shazam! is able to find a lovely balance by keeping the threat constantly present, and by also focusing predominantly on Billy and his journey. The villain almost feels secondary, and as an origin story, that works brilliantly. What I will also say is that even though I watched all the trailers, there were still plenty of surprises. One of the only things I can say negatively about the film is that I believe it occasionally struggled visually. The effects weren’t harmful at all, but I think there was a noticeable fluctuation, however, unlike Aquaman, the film didn’t actually need all the fancy effects.
Shazam! will floss into theaters on April 5.