Reviews are in for Zachary Levi's "Shazam!" and most critics agree -- it's a "slick" and "entertaining" superhero film, and "DC's most joyful and sweet movie since the days of Christopher Reeve's 'Superman.'"
The DC film starring Zachary Levi in the title role of an adult superhero with the spirit of a 14-year-old won't be hitting theaters until April 5, but it's already showing signs of blockbuster potential, thanks to word of mouth from impressed critics.
While one critic called "Shazam!" the "slickest DC movie in years," TheWrap's own film critic Alonso Duralde says, "This new DC entry has a lovely lightness, both in the visuals and in its tone." Overall, the film currently holds a score of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
"'Shazam!' is such an unexpected joy from start to finish -- at a time when Hollywood is choking to death on all the superhero films that studios keep ramming down its throat, here comes one that looks at the genre in a different light and reconceives it on a human level," said IndieWire's David Ehrlich. 'Shazam!' is easily one of the most fun superhero movies ever made."
However, Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty wrote: "Whenever Levi is on screen [...] the movie soars... 'Shazam!' is basically two movies in one. One with Levi and his wiseass 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."
"Shazam" follows foster child Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who is chosen as "Champion of Eternity" by an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and granted the ability to transform into the superhero Shazam (Levi). With the help of his foster brother and superhero fanatic Freddy (Grazer), Billy learns to master his powers and takes them out for a joyride but is forced to get serious when his powers attract the interest of the twisted industrialist Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).
"Shazam" is directed by David F. Sandberg from a script by Henry Gayden, with Peter Safran producing.
See seven of the best reviews below.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
"'Shazam!' is such an unexpected joy from start to finish -- at a time when Hollywood is choking to death on all the superhero films that studios keep ramming down its throat, here comes one that looks at the genre in a different light and reconceives it on a human level. It doesn't break the mold so much as it plays with how flexible the mold can be. Warm, witty, and bursting at the seams with great characters, 'Shazam!' is easily one of the most fun superhero movies ever made; even after the euphoric 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,' that's still a low bar to clear, but it's worth celebrating all the same."
Lindsay Bahr, Associated Press:
"OK, so it's basically 'Big' with superheroes and villains instead of businesspeople and girlfriends, but director David F. Sandberg has infused his film with so much heart and charm that it hardly matters. Even the deficiencies, like the sluggish beginning and the random, ridiculous villains, fade away under a haze of goodwill because unlike so many big spectacle action pics with sequels in mind, 'Shazam!' actually sticks the landing."
Hugh Armitrage, Digital Spy:
"Back in the dark days of 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' and 'Suicide Squad,' the idea that DC would one day bring us a delightful, family-friendly comedy never even crossed our minds. Things started to look up with 'Wonder Woman,' which mixed some typically lame CGI blob-fighting with a genuinely stirring storyline (not to mention that powerful no man's land scene). Then - after the blip that was 'Justice League' - came 'Aquaman,' which was a bit of a mess, but, critically, a loveable mess that became DC's highest-grossing movie ever. Now comes 'Shazam!' a (mostly) family-friendly movie that is not only a delight, but probably the slickest DC movie in years."
Matt Singer, Screen Crush:
"Let's get the big gripe out of the way, because I really only have one, and otherwise 'Shazam!' is a pretty terrific superhero entertainment... It's filled with sharp humor, strong relationships, and big exciting (and clear!) set-pieces. It's thrilling. It's an escape from your troubles. You feel good when it's over. In other words, after 'Aquaman' and now 'Shazam!' we've stumbled into a delightful Bizarro Universe where DC movies are suddenly fun again."
Jim Vejvoda, IGN:
"'Shazam!' is a DC's most joyful and sweet movie since the days of Christopher Reeve's 'Superman,' a funny yet earnest coming-of-age story about a boy who learns that, well, with great power comes great responsibility. So obviously, Shazam! doesn't reinvent the superhero movie, but it's an undeniably fun time that left me wanting more big-screen adventures with these charming characters."
Brandon Davis, Comic Book:
"'Shazam! shapes up to be the best movie based on a DC Comics character since 'The Dark Knight' changed the comic book movie game in 2008. Christopher Nolan's film probably still holds the torch for best film in the genre given its ability to transcend the comic book movie world and become a psychological thriller, above all else, but Shazam! certainly gives the film a run for its money. It's the sheer levels of fun, heart, and terror 'Shazam!' masterfully balances which make it a lightning bolt of joy."
Alan Cerny, ComingSoon.net:
"'Shazam!' invites everyone to have a good time. It doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in its body. It's well-paced, not too long, and never overstays its welcome. Even the scenes that are simple character moments pop, and Zachary Levi isn't afraid to look silly if the moment calls for it. 'Shazam!' has a big, goofy smile on its face, and you can't help but smile back. This is a puppy dog of a movie, and it does exactly what it wants to do - give us heroes to cheer for, villains to hiss at, and laughs aplenty. It even throws in some welcome monster mayhem and raucous action sequences. In the pantheon of the genre, 'Shazam!' is pure superhero entertainment."