So the “DCEU” is pretty much dead. While pieces of interconnected tissue do remain, the larger “universe” has been laid to rest.. probably for the better.
The main problem being, DC tried to pull all of their marquee characters together too soon. Had they chosen to go slow and steady, introducing new elements along the way, they may have been a success story, but they pulled the trigger on the Justice League film way too fast.
Batman V Superman and Justice League both faultered, while Wonder Woman was fantastic, and Aquaman was a very good tonal course correction, Shazam! is a far lighter and more family friendly side to the DC pantheon.
This is a family film, both thematically, and as far as target audience is concerned – although there are some pretty violent moments here and there, and some of the family themes might be tough for younger audience members to grab a hold of.
Zachary Levi’s casting as Shazam! was a little baffling to begin with, but he was phenomenal – bringing a great deal of humour to the role, which the movie benefits from. Mark Strong is also excellent as the villain, Dr Sivana. Elsewhere, Asher Angel is very well cast as the troubled teen, Billy Batson, and the actors that make up the rest of his foster family are great to watch.
Superhero elements aside, Shazam! is a movie about family, and finding a place that you belong, and it does have some touching moments within the overall storyline – on the other hand, there are elements that are a little harder to watch – Billy finally tracking down his real mother for example. None of it feels forced though, and these beats are all thoughtfully placed to serve the characters and the overall storyline.
The superhero elements are great too. This is a 14 year old boy discovering his powers, which is different from the “normal” hero movies. Sure, there’s always that element of discovery, but watching what a child does with the powers is funny and enjoyable to watch unfold.
Shazam! is somewhat predictable, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable movie for the entire family.
Review by Rick Trewin.