SHAZAM! – Gods, Wizards, and Children, Oh My!

Director: David Sandberg

Writers: Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke

*Comic book characters created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck*

Producers: Jeffrey Chernov, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Geoff Johns, Dwayne Johnson, Peter Safram, Adam Schlagman, and David Witz

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, and Cooper Andrews

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A goofy, parodic, and self-mocking comic book film, yet one that does not sacrifice an emotional story with rich, identifiable themes and messages focused on family and the essence of one’s true morality.

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Zachary Levi is absolutely infectious as Billy Batson, a 14 year-old living in the body of an adult, godlike superhero, and Mark Strong delivers a chilling performance as Dr. Sivana, a well-written and developed villain with a tragic past.

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While some of the jokes and dialogue are cheesy and predictable, it really finds its footing in the last 2/3 of the film, with a (literally) electrifying final act that manages to make fun of every superhero stereotype, while still maintaining a solid grasp on direction and plot.

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The technical elements of Shazam are secondary to the captivating story and resonant messages, but the adventurous and spirited musical score from Benjamin Wallfisch complements the tone of the narrative exquisitely.

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While the DCEU has struggled to find clear direction in a connected universe, the path they appear to be on now – focused more on individual projects and refined productions – seems to be the most efficient route for the franchise. I applaud DC for recognizing that the Marvel formula was simply not working for their films, choosing nonconformity to the MCU’s practically unreachable standards of continuity and congruence. Still, there are plenty of easter eggs and references to other films from the DCEU, as well as a few fan-service moments that will have die-hard fans clapping and cheering.

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While Shazam is far from the best comic book film we’ve seen even in the past year, it is a ridiculously fun movie-watching experience that should appeal to a variety of audiences, superhero fans or not.

Grade: B

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