Referring to my previous reviews, let’s be brutally honest, DC has had to change its game big time over the past two years. After the disastrous reception to ‘Batman v Superman’ and the below par reviews of ‘Justice League’, DC effectively had one foot in the grave. If these two giants of the DC universe can’t build a successful universe, then who can? DC had a fantastic opportunity to build a superhero franchise of characters who had never been given an opportunity on the big screen and they utilised the opportunity for fresh, original cinema. Up came ‘Wonder Woman’ in 2017 and then ‘Aquaman’ last year. Both financially and critically successful, DC looked to continue the successful streak with ‘Shazam!’. The brand new superhero movie where, being honest, I had absolutely no idea of his backstory, origin or anything! So for me to go into a superhero movie not knowing what to expect was extremely refreshing.
In case you didn’t know, ‘Shazam!’ is revolved around a teenager called Billy Batson. Recently adopted by a new, loving family, Billy struggles to adapt as he is still on a mission to find his real mother who he believed was still out there, looking for him with his adoption being a big misunderstanding. Ever since Billy has rejected any new family in order to search for his real family. After selflessly defending his new adoptive brother, he is summoned by a Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and explains that he is ‘pure of heart’ and needs to take his powers to protect the earth from the deadly seven sins that have been unleashed upon the Earth. Once accepting the powers, little Billy Batson transforms into an older version of himself, portrayed by Zachary Levi, and suddenly has to adapt to being able to fly, have electric flow through his body and have super strength and speed; in essence, becoming ‘Mr Sparkle Fingers’.
‘Shazam!’ has easily eclipsed ‘Captain Marvel’ as my favourite comic book movie of 2019 so far (thought we must anticipate Avengers: Endgame coming out at the end of April). This is mainly down the reason I mentioned before about not knowing much about the character or its origins. It was a new experience and it felt really nice not knowing what on earth may or may not happen. Zachary Levi is immensely enjoyable as Shazam and is by far the star of the movie. His comedic background is utilized extremely well and it pays off as we’re treated to no strings attached superhero movie that has one job, to please the audience. And that’s it, there’s no hurry to see five other DC movies to work out what’s going on; it’s a no pressure movie that anyone can watch and enjoy.
David F Sandberg, director of ‘Shazam!’ has done an extremely good job. Still relatively new to the directing game with the DC movie only being his third directorial effort, he’s done very well to manage and exceed the expectations of a DC film. Even more interestingly, Sandberg has come from a horror background after directing ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’, both well received by both the general audience and also by myself. I would recommend ‘Annabelle: Creation’ as a vast improvement of the original movie which was, for lack of better words, absolutely awful mainly due to the fact that he was following the first movie which was absolutely terrible, the pressure was on him to deliver a much better received film as part of ‘The Conjuring’ franchise. He has mirrored that success into the superhero genre which, in my eyes, makes David F Sandberg a very lucrative director.
I would love to see ‘Shazam!’ again and I’m already relishing the opportunity to buy this on home media when it’s released later in the year. It’s a film you can go back to time and time again and enjoy for years to come and personally, that is success for any movie.
If you also like original articles, check out Morton’s new article – The Lessons Cinema Can Learn From Netflix: Let’s Scale!