By Brennan Atkins
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
By Noah Barnes
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is now seven movies deep, starting in 2013 with “visionary director” Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” and now “Shazam” is added to the series of mediocre to, well, bad movies.
Will Shazam fly above the rest?
Shazam is a superhero flick directed by David F. Sandberg featuring Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Djimon Hounsou as The Wizard Shazam, and Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.
Billy Batson was separated from his mother at a young age, and since then, has been jumping from foster home to foster home in the hope that he may one day find her again. His lack of family causes him to be distant from everyone and serves as a stark contrast from when he becomes Shazam.
Batson is one day called to obtain the power of Shazam, a power that is handed down from an ancient wizard of the same name. It gives the user incredible strength, flight, and electric hands. All the user has to do is scream ‘Shazam!’ and the powers will come to them at any time.
“Shazam” is filled with interesting concepts, some of them landing, but others being lost in the midst of all the bizarreness.
When thunder claps, lightning strikes.
One unique trait that Billy Batson has is his ability to change into Shazam instantly. Being able to do this allows for some clever scenes, and depending on the situation, being Billy is better than staying as Shazam.
The story between Billy and his mother reeks of a typical hero origin story, but they take it in a different direction that, despite having rough patches, is important in making Billy realize what matters. The theme of family and what that entails is prevalent throughout the film.
The costume alone gives off a “golden age of comics” vibe – somewhat reminiscent of the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” movies – that captures a raw, unfiltered look into what these heroes would look like in the real world.
It wouldn’t be a DCEU movie without at least one – or maybe a couple – of flaws.
For one, the mistakes made in the film feel as though they would have been made in comic book films 10 years ago, as if they didn’t know what works and what doesn’t.
The flaws in the script, character building, plot, and action feel like they could have been easily fixed.
Like, having a bully hit a kid with a car with no repercussions, is a tad bit more serious than just the typical school bully antagonist. It’s unrealistic and distracting.
While the action isn’t awful, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Hero throws bad guy, bad guy throws hero. You get the gist.
There are only two fight scenes, and one of them teeters on the edge of even being a fight.
Mark Strong accepted the role as Shazam’s antagonist as an apology to audiences for the 2011 film “Green Lantern,” in which he played one of the most iconic villains in DC comic history, Sinestro.
Ironically, his role as Sivana makes his role as Sinestro look good by comparison.
While it’s definitely not the most polished stone in the pond, “Shazam” is thinking in the right direction when it comes to where the DCEU should go next. It features more lighthearted and fun scenes, with less of a focus on telling a grand story.
The mistakes made in producing the film were bad, but at least they’re showing a glimpse of what DCEU could be.