As a lone and slightly troubled teen, Billy Batson(Asher Angel) finds himself going through the foster system again and again. Though he is placed into a caring home with welcoming arms, Billy remains unconvinced that he can be happy without being with his birth parents; ostracizing himself from the family. Soon after a wizard transforms him into a superhero- adult appearance and all. Billy realizes he has no one else to turn to and thus reveals his new traits to his superhero fanatic foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer). The two band together as they discover the specifics of the transformation as well as the shenanigans that come with two teenager boys.
With the coming of age aspect of “Shazam!” it follows a very familiar story of a teenager dealing with personal issues while settling into a new environment; however the superhero element really turns the genre on its head making for a refreshing addition. Yes, it can be formulaic at times, which isn’t a bad thing. A film like this is made for simple enjoyment rather than playing mind games with its viewers. That isn’t to say that you’ll foresee everything coming, but rather a commentary that it takes lots of its inspiration from similar films that preceded it.
The entire cast is fantastic. The foster family all have their moments to make the overall ensemble feel authentic. The parents just want the best for the kids, allowing them to be free to express themselves and follow their passions while maintaining loving guidance when necessary. Each kid has a distinct personality to shine in their given moment. The two that shine the most are Billy and Freddy. A strong chemistry is established the instant the two meet in the film. Most of the charm derives from the duo as they not only offer some great comedic moments but a surprisingly emotional side as well. The performances by both quickly shout out to the world that these two are here to stay and will be stars in the near future. Never once did I question the realism of the relationship or become bored by the familiarity. Zachary Levi is just the icing on the cake as he nails the mixture of leading man and teenager personality. An entire review on its own can be made for his performance, but I’ll let the film speak for itself. There’s no doubt that “Big” was an inspiration for the film, which only made my enjoyment even higher as it honored the film while cultivating its own stamp on the body transformation style of film.
The filmmakers had a difficult task of keeping the character Shazam and the lore away from being hokey, which they achieved with flying colors. The script seemed to be nurtured and maintained close by the writers in a way that honored the source material while allowing it to become part of the modern age. There’s no doubt that humor is at the forefront of the film with excellent dialogue and comedic timing near to perfection by the cast. “Shazam!” tops as the funniest DC movie and possibly one of the best superhero comedies as just about every joke lands with a punch. Charming characters and an emotional tone threaded through the fabrics of the film gives “Shazam!” the depth that’s missed in many blockbusters of today. From top to bottom it was evident that the cast and crew deeply cared about the film.
It seems that DC and Warner Bros have found their footing on the tone and style of their cinematic universe- they aren’t afraid to bring out truly brilliant comic book moments that may seem over the top and incorporate it into realism that is slightly exaggerated. “Shazam!” manages to be a film that feels very exclusive while at the same time tying into a much broader universe. It’s is by far the best film of the current DC slate of films and should be recognized as the hero to take the franchise to new heights.