This article contains opinion.
“Shazam!,” the latest in a line of mostly underwhelming DC movies (except “Aquaman”), is the cinematic equivalent of a base hit.
Wait. That’s not exactly it. It still sounds too exciting.
I guess it’s more like a walk, but in the top of the first with no one on base. Stakes are low, and no one really cares this early. It’s just kind of nice, but all you can do is shrug.
That’s “Shazam!,” the least exciting thing you can think of.
The movie introduces us to Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a bratty foster kid who keeps running away from foster families in search of his mom. He eventually winds up getting shipped to Philadelphia to live with the Vasquez family (Marta Milan and Cooper Andrews), two former foster kids themselves who go about collecting their own like trading cards.
Batson eventually finds himself running away again, but this time he gets transported to the mythical Rock of Eternity where a wizard (Djimon Hounsou, who has to have played the most characters in both the MCU and DCEU) has been holding the Seven Deadly Sins captive, but they’ve broken free with the help of Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).
So, in a bit of a bind, he transfers his powers to Batson who suddenly gets transformed into an adult man (Zachary Levi), so he’ll be able to fight the forces of evil and learn that family is more then who you’re born to.
To this, he enlists his foster home bunkmate, Freddy Freeman, who’s played with charisma by Jake Dylan Grazer, to teach him the ins and outs of hero-ing.
It’s a convoluted setup to a movie that’s just “Big” with less questionable sex and more mindless punching.
Most of the film is spend following Batson and Freeman during these training sessions that are really just extended sketches.
Some of these are funny, like Batson finding out he’s bullet proof and throwing some stuck-up men through a window. Most, however, are just forgettable.
That’s the problem with most of the movie. It’s just forgettable. For every decent joke, there’s 10 that don’t manage to make any sort of impression, positive or negative.
Its characters are flat and drawn in only the broadest of strokes, which makes it hard to care when they suddenly become super important in the last act. The film looks OK but does nothing you haven’t seen before or done better somewhere else.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the movie, but there’s nothing all that compelling about it either. You might get some comfort out of knowing it exists and watching it at 2 p.m. on a Sunday when you have nothing better to do, but it’s not worth going out of your way to see.
There are exactly 30 seconds of this movie that I’m wholly on board with, and that’s a mid-credit sequence that I won’t spoil. But, I wish it did more with the two hours I spent watching it.
It’s like a lot of kids’ movies. It’s just there.