Between DC and Marvel the latter has always come out on top as DC’s darker more brooding tone was successful with a great filmmaker like Christopher Nolan behind the camera, but the other films like Suicide Squad, Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman were not successful in trading off humour for a more darker tone. It worked well with Wonder Woman because of Patty Jenkins deft touch but with Aquaman and Shazam there has been a much more apparent slide towards humour than a dark atmosphere and Shazam is DC’s most light-hearted film of recent times.
Shazam is a nod to the movies of the 80s and the film it made me think of most was Big (it even directly references it). The idea of boy inside a man’s body is interestingly turned on its head as a young Billy Batson struggles to come to terms with the responsibly bestowed upon him following the immense power he gains. At first Billy treats his newly found powers flippantly by buying beer, taking selfies with fans and getting revenge on bullies but that is until a supervillain arrives on the scene in the shape of Mark Strong’s Doctor Sivana.
The film is better up until this point. It’s light hearted fun and gentle ribbing of the clichés of the superhero genre make it less edgy version of Deadpool. Zachary Levi’s childlike and excited performance effortlessly radiates charm and likeability (which fourteen-year-old wouldn’t be excited by super powers?) Once the film focuses on the plot is does lose some of its steam. The film clocks in at about 130 minutes and you could certainly feel a point in time when the plot begins to take hold and the film starts to sag
Yet for the disappointing main plot there are other aspects that work in the film’s favor. The theme of family is touching and the foster family all make for likeable supporting characters. Zachary Levi’s performance is highly engaging and his younger self is also good in the role. The main plot might be lacking, but you’ll leave with a fond memory of the film’s most amusing moments.