Is Shazam! about to steal the superhero movie thunder? There are a total of 12 comic book epics due for release this year, and if the warm response to the new DC movie is anything to go by, we could have a real winner on our hands.
Shazam! is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) franchise, one that's already spawned the likes of Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Crucially, however, it operates as a standalone story, freed of connections to the wider universe, which critics say invests the movie with a freewheeling, lighthearted tone.
It's the tale of young teenage orphan Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who is granted the ability to transform into an invincible superhero. All he has to do is say the name Shazam and he's transformed into a super-powered, caped figure, personified by Thor actor Zachary Levi as the goofy title character. Joining forces with new step-brother Freddy (IT's Jack Dylan Grazer), Shazam must take down the nefarious Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Kick-Ass's Mark Strong).
The social media embargo has lifted to a whole raft of delighted responses, including this from Cinemablend's Eric Eisenberg.
DC is finally building a solid run: #Shazam is a delight! Its familiar origin structure is forgivable because of all the new it brings to the table - primarily it's gleeful, childlike enthusiasm, & heartfelt perspective on family. It's also the role Zachary Levi was born to play. pic.twitter.com/5zXtfFDBGm— Eric Eisenberg (@eeisenberg) March 8, 2019
ET's Ash Crossan describes the movie as virtually perfect.
#Shazam was damn near PERFECT in my book. My FAVORITE DC movie (DCEU? What are we saying now?) by far. Pure of heart, incredibly funny, full of in-jokes and references. Brought me a childlike joy to watch. This role was MADE for @ZacharyLevi... & Jack & Asher & the entire cast pic.twitter.com/rVrxjcwvCe— Ash Crossan (@AshCrossan) March 8, 2019
IGN's Jim Vejvoda says the movie hearkens back to the tone of 1978 Christopher Reeve classic Superman.
Shazam! is DC’s most joyful & sweet movie since the era 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. It doesn’t reinvent the superhero movie wheel, but it’s undeniably fun! pic.twitter.com/rdT8zljkxo— Jim Vejvoda (@JimVejvoda) March 8, 2019
Fandango's Erik Davis lauds the movie's goofy humour.
#Shazam is big, goofy, lovable, and unlike anything DC has done before. Definitely in the vein of Tom Hanks' BIG, but with superhero action & lots of Batman and Superman references. I dug this film so much I wanted to give it a bear hug at the end. DC's movies keep getting better pic.twitter.com/WQJgo61gMg— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) March 8, 2019
We Live Entertainment's Scott Menzel praises director David F. Sandberg for effectively making the jump from horror to superhero movies.
Shazam! is the superhero film that you never knew you needed. Zachary Levi was born to play this role. Ridiculously entertaining & non-stop fun from start to finish. Loved every character & all of the pop culture references. This is what going to the movies is all about. #Shazam pic.twitter.com/SxCcCTy2ZB— Scott Menzel @ SXSW (@TheOtherScottM) March 8, 2019
Den of Geek Us's Mike Cecchini describes the film as his favourite DCEU entry so far.
In fact, I'm gonna go out on a limb and call #Shazam my favorite DCEU movie. It is really well balanced, gets the magical wonder of the character and his world right, and somehow never feels like it's trying too hard.— Mike Cecchini (@wayoutstuff) March 8, 2019
And Slash Film's Peter Sciretta says the movie mashes up a host of family classics for an entertaining experience.
#Shazam is parts Home Alone, parts Big, a crowd pleasing family-friendly joy-filled wish-fulfillment superhero film which gets a bit over the top and cheesy at times. It’s fun and funny, and I was surprised at how much it wears it’s heart on its sleeve.— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) March 8, 2019
You'll be able to cast your own verdict before long when Shazam! hits Cineworld screens on 5th April.