by Charles Kirkland, Jr.
The DC Extended Universe submits a new entry into their legion of superheroes with Shazam.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is an orphan. He remembers his mom and wants to get back to her, unfortunately, that means running from several foster parent homes to find her. Social Services, at their wit’s end, places the rebellious teen in a group home with five other children. One day after Batson decides to stand up to bullies who were attacking Freddie Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), one of the group home children, he is transported to a mystical location where he is given magical superhero powers and a mission to protect the world from the Seven Deadly Sins. The key to the power is saying the name, Shazam.
Shazam is the latest superhero fare from the DC Extended Universe and is the second film submitted in the post-Snyder era of the Universe counting Aquaman as the first. With these two submissions, it is clear that the DCEU is headed in a different direction as the previous entries. Shazam recognizes that it is part of the universe by referring to Batman and Superman but this movie is very different from them as is the superhero. Cinematically, Shazam is much brighter with most of the action happening during the daylight. The tone of the movie is much lighter as well and is appropriate to the hero.
When Billy Batson says the name Shazam, he is transformed from his teenage body into the adult superhero played by Zachary Levi however, he remains the boy inside the body of a man. Much of the film’s light-heartedness and fun comes from the dichotomy of a boy trying to figure out how not just to be a man but a superman. Freeman, a devoted superhero worshipper, becomes the perfect sidekick in helping Batson to discover how to use his powers and to hopefully be a true superhero.
While most of the film is bright and light, director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation) uses his horror background to make duality a theme in the cinematography as well. There are some scenes featuring Shazam’s nemesis, Dr. Silvana (Mark Strong) and the Seven Deadly Sins that are very dark and violent. The duality works effectively well in cementing the identity of Shazam as good and Silvana as evil.
Shazam is an incredibly fun and entertaining ride. It totally deserves the PG-13 rating is has for intense scenes, language and suggestive material.
This is a DCEU movie at its best. Where Aquaman was fun, it was one note in tone and style. This movie is bright and yet dark at the same time. It is the most perfect execution of integrating the characteristically dark tones of the DC Universe and an enjoyable and exciting style of storytelling that is entertaining for the viewers.
PS. Stay through the credits. Like in Marvel movies, there are two scenes to see. One mid-credits and the other at the very end.