The reviews for Shazam! are finally out.
Asher Angel stars as William “Billy” Batson, an orphan who gets imbued with the power to transform into the Superman-type character Shazam (Zachary Levi) by shouting the hero’s name.
Initial reactions were posted online earlier this month, with those lucky enough to catch the film early calling the Shazam! the best DCEU instalment – also including Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad and Justice League – yet.
Critics have seemingly agreed with the social media consensus: Shazam! currently holds a 93 per cent rating on the aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, drawing with Wonder Woman‘s score. Read a selection of the reviews below.
Shazam! is notionally the latest instalment in the DC Extended Universe. But the film doesn’t remotely feel assembled to a franchise-building template: rather, it’s jauntily at ease doing its own thing throughout, which is by turns infectiously silly and unexpectedly warm-hearted.
it continues the vein of the most recent DC Comics adaptation, Aquaman, breaking with the Strum-und-Grit approach that characterized Zack Snyder’s shepherding of the franchise; if DC movies can’t offer the sweeping arcs and conflicts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they can at least be forgettably fun.
The hardest power to depict onscreen is the wisdom of Solomon, but Shazam! makes clever decisions, mixing middle school snark with disarming sweetness. And — yes — it delivers the requisite lightning-strike punch-’em-ups with considerable force.
Shazam! is basically two movies in one. One with Levi and his wise ass foster brother (a fresh Jack Dylan Grazer), the other with Strong and all his snarling, computer-generated gobbledygook. And they both have the other in a headlock, wrestling for the soul of the story. I loved one, yawned through the other.
The finale, while admirably self-contained and small-scale, grinds on for far too long, a boring escalation of anti-climaxes that cumulatively dull the intended emotional impact. It’s a film in need of a tighter edit with a script in need of a sharper polish, an imperfect franchise-launcher that nonetheless represents significant progress for DC.
Director Sandberg, who might have seemed a left-field choice for the assignment considering that his previous credits are the horror films Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation, infuses the jaunty proceedings with just enough scariness to garner Shazam! a PG-13 rating and satisfy older viewers.
Sandberg has found success in Shazam by shrugging off typically cumbersome grimness and ignoring a need to fuse together with other films for a future team-up epic — all that stuff that weighs down most superhero movies. Instead, for large parts of the movie, Shazam unfurls like a holiday movie spin on the genre. And in embracing earnest glee and heartfelt tenderness, Shazam allows us to fully appreciate the magical excitement and wonder that superheroes can supply.