Shazam! was my biggest surprise for this weekend. DC finally pulled out a comedic competitor to the likes of Deadpool without the sleaze or Guardians without being slave to a larger storyline. The quest for power and the implications of temptation presented a goofy but tonally sound entry that hopefully informs a less bombastic style of filmmaking in their future endeavors.
When Billy Batson (Asher Angel) winds up in Philadelphia searching for his mother, he finds himself in a group home with ample potential. Keeping his distance, a good deed helping his foster brother Freedy (Jack Dylan Grazer, It, Beautiful Boy) finds himself face-to-face with a wizard needing to pass his powers to a worthy (enough) savior for humanity. Zachary Levi as the swole superhero with a fourteen-year-old’s foolishness and excitement at invincibility. Faced with a man refused the powers as a boy (Mark Strong in all his bald villainy), he struggles to tackle the seven deadly sins, hiding his superpowers, and avoiding truancy laws.
Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) kept a steady tone throughout his film, not allowing it to get too dark or bogged down in drama or explosions like its less impressive brethren. Levi is hilarious, but Grazer gave brazen brother Freddy a fiery sidekick with wit to burn: honestly one of the best supporting performances of the year. If you can see the detail and feel for the characters, you’re more likely to succeed at bringing back audiences disappointed in poor productions ignoring character for cheese and chase scenes. Now time to go to sleep until Avengers: Endgame releases.