HOLLYWOOD—Another month, another superhero flick has hit the big screen. This time it’s a character that fans of the comic book universe may or may not fully know about. However, DC seems to be earning its footing when doing battle against Marvel when it comes to superheroes. Yes, there have been misses and big ones, but there have been some bright spots, “The Dark Knight” (the greatest of them all), “Wonder Woman” and most recently “Aquaman” if you ask me.
This time the superhero “Shazam!” gives audiences something on the funny side with a ton of heart. At its core, this comic book adventure is all about family; it is something that is rare that takes such a deep dive as this movie does. The audience gets an interesting dichotomy between our hero Billy Baston (Asher Angel) aka Shazam (Zachary Levi) and villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Billy finds himself in the foster care system, and on a mission to locate his birth mother.
Those antics leads to Billy running into trouble with the law, but he seems to find a strong familial bond at his latest group home run by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans). It is here that he bonds with his foster brother, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), who is disabled, but a massive fan of superheroes.
These two develop a quick bond as Billy goes to bat to protect Freddy from bullies from school. There is a lot of heart to this bond, which heightens the emotional impact of the movie; it’s rare to see such a thing in this genre. There is a strong element of magic to the movie as the tale of how Shazam (Djimon Honsou) comes to be is explained in all of its detail. Is it a bit much? Yes, but the writing for the movie takes its time to explain the story to the audience. There are no massive gaps where you are asking for more, which slows the pacing in the beginning, but once it reaches its turning point its full speed.
On the polar end, the audience gets a hefty story arc for Sivana who is a bit of an enigma. He’s the black sheep in the family and that is a pivotal element that leads to his quest of wanting to possess the powers of the ancient wizard. Many of you might be asking what makes this flick so entertaining, its Zachary Levi. Levi brings this element of a goofball to our hero. He’s an adult, but at the core, he’s still a child inside. That brings a major element of relatability to the audience. When we’re kids we can’t wait to be adults, and when we’re adults we wish we could go back to being a kid.
There is perfect chemistry between Levi and Angel; the banter the comradery just works on multiple cylinders. I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see a villain who was an equal adversary to our villain. Sivana is dark, conniving and not afraid to go to extremes to obtain a power that he suspects should have been his all along. Strong balances a tricky act of being a villain who the audience can sympathize with, but also root against. That makes him a dangerous, yet intriguing character.
Tack onto the fact that the movie delivers so many laughs and you have an iconic superhero flick. “Shazam!” is indeed one of a kind, and there isn’t a movie in the past 10 years that can come close to matching the heart, the action, the special effects and the enthralling narrative that this superhero adventure delivers to audiences. It’s a superhero flick that brings a unique perspective not widely seen and it is a ton of fun to witness.