Sunday, April 7, 2019



Shazam! is the most fun and delightful super hero movie since Superman in 1978, and that's saying something. It's not as complex and complete as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is in a class by itself, but it's up there.

Shazam! can be enjoyed entirely on its own, outside of the exhausting, meticulously curated super hero mythos -- or, at least, almost. The movie's few stumbles come when it tries to please its corporate overlords by weaving in other elements of the DC "franchise." Those parts feel inorganic and clunky.

Otherwise, Shazam! is its own thing, and gloriously so. After two unnecessarily long prologues, it begins when 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is summoned to the underground lair of a wizard named Shazam (Djimon Honsou), who not only bestows super powers -- but also turns him into a 30-ish grown-up (Zachary Levi) with a ridiculous light-up costume. So, Shazam! becomes like "Big in Tights," a comparison it recognizes and embraces wholeheartedly.

Billy is part of a foster family, which includes disabled Freddy (Jack Dylan Graser), who starts acting like the hero's manager. These two guys (three, really) have insanely great chemistry. Less exciting is the "super-villain" angle -- Mark Strong's baddie lacks the charm of the rest of the proceedings; the final battle is overlong and overdone. But Shazam! is otherwise good -- really good. We don't need a single new super hero movie, but since we're gonna get 'em, can they please all be like this?

Viewed April 6, 2019 -- AMC Sunset 5


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