Kyle Winfield | Technology Editor
DC’s live-action film efforts seem to be on the upswing since trying to leave behind the doom, gloom, and oddly casual killing that were common in the Zack Snyder directed films. Though “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” were steps in the right direction, does this mean that Warner Brother Studios and DC have turned a corner into making actually good superhero films?
“Shazam” is the seventh entry in the “DCEU,” DC comic’s up until recently floundering answer the entertainment monolith that is Marvel’s MCU. Directed by David F. Sandberg and starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Glazer and Djimon Hounsou.
“Shazam” tells the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who is granted magical superpowers by a dying wizard (Djimon Hounsou), which allow him to transform into an adult version of himself (Zachary Levi) and gives him a bevy of superpowers.Essentially, he becomes a magical, more naive Superman. These superpowers allow him to fight off the Seven Deadly Sins which possess the evil Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong).
When comparing this to the previous DC film offerings, “Shazam” is a breath of fresh air, considering the atmosphere of the other films, most notably the Snyder directed films and David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad.” Where those films were trying to be “edgy,” “Shazam” goes for a more wholesome approach, even though it still has it’s oddly violent moments.
While this is a DC film, it feels more in line with Marvel, in terms of humor used. While the film isn’t all quips all the time, there is more humor in this film than in previous DC offerings. While the humor often overstays its welcome in Marvel films, the humor in this film is mostly well placed and isn’t just because of quips, but also physical comedy.
The acting is overall, pretty well-done with the standouts being Zachary Levi, who really plays up the whole “kid in a grown-up’s body” ala Tom Hanks in “Big.” Other stand-outs are Jack Dylan Glazer and Cooper Andrews, who plays Victor Vasquez, Billy’s foster father. He plays the role with a true sincerity, feeling more like an actual father, than someone playing one.
While the film has way more positives than negatives, there are still negatives. One prominent one is the use, or over-use of slow-motion. For some shots, it does make sense, as a way to show something moving fast, like a bullet or some such. But after a while, the effect really over-stays its welcome.
Another is related to the film’s villain, Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong). While Strong plays the role decently, the character is too one note, and flat. Though this could be done in an attempt to make him a foil to the more obviously comedic “Shazam.”
Despite the negatives, “Shazam” proves to be perhaps the best DC film, next to “Wonder Woman.” Should DC keep on this path, they might be able to salvage this series of fumbles that were the previous films. Definitely carve out time to see this film.