DC finally finds some magic with “Shazam!”

​It can be hard not to feel bad for DC movies. For the past ten years, Marvel has dominated pop culture while DC has had to sit in the back of the class with a dunce cap on its head.

For as hard as DC and Warner Bros. have tried, they just can’t get it right. For every critical darling like “Wonder Woman,” there’s two Suicide Squad’s. The company has long been too focused on catching up to Marvel and the films have suffered greatly which is a huge disappointment to a DC fan like myself.

With “Shazam!” DC breaks this cycle by, and hold onto your hats because this is a radical idea, just being a fun movie that isn’t trying to set up the next five sequels 10 years down the road.

The film tells the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a 14-year-old foster child with a troubled past. When Billy is chosen by an ancient wizard to become earth’s newest champion, Billy is transformed into a red-suit-wearing, lightning-bolt-shooting superhero, played by Zachary Levi, anytime he says the magic word “shazam.”

If that sounds goofy, good. It’s supposed to. Shazam is one of DC’s lighter characters and it’s good to see DC stick to character’s DNA, instead of trying to make him dark and edgy (like when they made Aquaman a heavy drinking biker dude because that’s cool I guess).

“Shazam!” isn’t perfect. The first 20 minutes before Billy gets his powers are a bit of a drag and the final action sequence stretches on a tad too long, but stuck between those points is a funny, entertaining movie.

Levi fits into the role as Shazam perfectly. The chemistry between him and Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Billy’s best friend Freddy Freeman is spot on. The banter between the two as they try to figure out just what to do with Billy’s new powers is quick, witty and often hilarious.

What’s best about “Shazam!” is how simple and easy to digest the movie is. It feels like a superhero movie made in the early 2000’s, before they became a billion-dollar business.

It’s off kilter and strange but it knows this and embraces it. The movie is simply fun. Being that it’s about a god with the mind of a 14-year-old flying around the city and saving the day, does it need to be anything more than that?

“Shazam!” isn’t the most substantial superhero movie ever made but it’s an incredibly fresh breath of air for the superhero genre. For anybody wanting something different (or anybody just wanting to be entertained), it’s well worth the watch.
3 ½ /5
mason.robert.dredge@mail.umkc.edu

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