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The Critical Eye Reviews Shazam!

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The Critical Eye Reviews Shazam!

Written by Jesse Herzog, Film Critic

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Shazam! is a fun-filled look at an enticing concept: What if us kids were given superpowers? While not the most creative in terms of action fight scenes, Shazam! does provide a comedic take on the dark DC Extended Universe. While the film does accomplish its bid to be new, charming, and funny, this shift in tone once again calls into question the consistency of the DCEU as a whole. Originally meant to be a darker take on superhero films, the DCEU has lightened up in recent years, likely due to the box office and critical failings of Batman v. Superman and Justice League. This change in tone reflects poorly on the DCEU when considered as a continuous story. The inconsistency shows a lack of cohesiveness and direction for the franchise.

Zachary Levi’s performance as the titular character is the highlight of the film. He fits perfectly into a role comparable to Tom Hanks’ in Big (a 1988 film which, in fact, is referenced in this picture.) Levi had especially entertaining chemistry opposite Jack Dylan Grazer, who played Freddy Freeman. While Shazam himself exceeded expectations, the character Billy Batson (the teenage version of the titular character, played by Asher Angel) fell a bit flat. It could be due to the initial unlikeability of the character, though Angel’s performances in some of the more emotional scenes seemed a bit contrived. Mark Strong played a slightly unmemorable villain well, instilling human flaws and emotion. The rest of the actors rounded out the cast satisfactorily.

Shazam! was genuinely fun to watch. Its narrative did not seem to stall at any point, nor did it give in to too many superhero movies tropes. One problem arose toward the end of the film however, when Billy Batson’s foster siblings are granted the powers of Shazam. The audience is left wondering whether these characters will keep these powers — which would change the DCEU dramatically. The film does not provide an answer to this question, so for now we must simply take the development with a grain of salt. The end credits scenes were excellent. One was another comedic moment to leave the audience with smile on their faces (as well as a surprise appearance to tie the DCEU together), and the other was a tease for a sequel to Shazam!

In conclusion, Shazam! was new, exciting, and fun and likely saved the DCEU from destruction. At a time when superhero movies seemly come out every week, a refreshing take goes a long way.

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The Critical Eye Reviews Shazam!