I can imagine 12-year-old me would’ve gotten more from Shazam than 42-year-old me. I definitely enjoyed it, but I do feel like I’ve seen most of its beats before.
This movie feels like a throwback. It’s a by-the-numbers superhero origin story closest in tone to Sam Raimi’s Spider-man with elements of 1980s kid adventure films like The Goonies and The Monster Squad thrown in to pad out the sometimes thin plot. And while some of the jokes fell a bit flat for me, several worked very well and the tone was consistent and pretty pleasant if at times a bit darker than expected – that’s not a complaint.
Zachary Levi puts in a nice turn as Shazam and he never once feels like he’s forcing the kid-in-the-body-of-an-adult affectations. Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer play well off each other and it’s their friendship that forms the crux of the story. The rest of the cast give competent if fairly one-dimensional performances, but there is a decent base among those secondary characters from which to build future films.
On the downside, the cinematography is drab and the action is lacking in both quantity and quality. Both of those are minor gripes, though.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about Shazam. Director David F. Sandberg keeps things light and fun and still finds room for heart. It sent me home hoping the rest of the DC Universe might take some lessons from it.