Life comes at you fast. “Shazam!” is a good example of what happens when life comes at you even faster.
The film, another entry in the DC Extended Universe and the first since the superb “Aquaman,” is the story of a young boy named Billy Batson who, by the intervention of dying wizard Shazam, is granted the ability to turn into a buffed-out superhero at the utterance of the word “shazam”. And the movie is just as lighthearted as this premise.
Directed by David Sandberg — who is most notable for his work on 2016’s stunning horror flick “Lights Out” — the film is an honest look at the fantastic benefits that could be bestowed upon a child if they were given the opportunity to be a superhero. It never loses sight of the childlike sense of wonder that permeates from a cast this young with a budget of a mid-tier cheesy ‘80s flick.
Zachary Levi is cast as the titular superhero — which, by the way, is not really his name as he was originally called Captain Marvel but was switched for obvious legal reasons when Marvel named their own character with the same mantle — and does a remarkable job of translating Shazam from the comics. Lighthearted and with the zany quips one could expect from Marvel’s films that set the blueprint for how a superhero film could effectively work, Levi soars.
And that’s not to discredit the rest of the cast. Angel Asher, who portrays the young Billy Batson and is granted the powers of Shazam, does faithful work here. Mark Strong does a good job of translating the menacing Thaddeus Sivana into something that could be considered a serious villain in a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy is hilarious as well, as Billy’s right hand man throughout the film as he discovers his newfound powers.
Ever since the rollout of good films derived from comics, I was always optimistic to see how they would inevitably translate the story of "Shazam" onto the silver screen. I was not disappointed. "Shazam" hits all the right notes and makes sure you leave the theatre wishing you had superpowers, too.