SHAZAM! Review: All Its Goofiness Can't Save This Generic Origin Movie

***This is a spoiler-free review.***

Before going into seeing my early screener for SHAZAM! last night, I had a thought several weeks ago about how SHAZAM! could be a movie that kids could fall in love with and be seen screaming SHAZAM! outside in the back yard while playing. I convinced myself this was going to be catered toward kids and harken back to my days growing up in early 80s enjoying movies that I may have been a little to young to watch, but watched and enjoyed regardless. SHAZAM! tries to be this, but misses the mark.

Recent DC movies WONDER WOMAN and AQUAMAN have helped Warner Bros. get back on track with their superhero films and SHAZAM! was another attempt at bringing some more fun and entertainment into the genre. The sad truth here is that the film has a generic feel throughout, like there was an online template for making superhero origin movies the studio pulled up and used, but did not deviate enough from that generic formula.

The film's first Act is a tremendous amount of exposition. It is a slow-paced explanation that drags and makes the movie feel so much longer than it should, right off the bat. There are ways to circumvent the traditional origin story arc, but SHAZAM! decides to stick with a bland formula instead of trying a more original and unique way of telling an origin story. Of course, casual fans and moviegoers need to know the origin of SHAZAM!, however, this goes through the same origin beats as seen many times in the past. With the carbon-copy villain who is a mirror opposite of the hero trope, too.

Then there is the issue of trying to make a more kid- and family-friendly movie with some scary horror elements mixed in. Now, I grew up seeing 80s movies like INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOMGHOSTBUSTERS, and POLTERGEIST so horror elements and scary themes shouldn't be a problem here, but the blend of trying to make a family-friendly movie with those elements is off-the-mark. I really wanted the movie to pull it off, but it couldn't.

Regarding of the family aspect of the film, there are themes present but it lacks true heart, which is something the narrative itself strives to find. There is some warmth in the narrative, but not enough to really connect to it as it was trying to do too much with everything else going on.

Outside of actors Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer's entertaining performances, everything else is dry and uninspiring. From Asher Angel's Billy Batson's flat portrayal to Mark Strong' Dr. Sivana and his stereotypical villain arc, there is only so much Levi and Grazer can do to bring actual fun into the movie.

Now, let me be clear... SHAZAM! has a few goofy and funny moments (although the crowd laughed way more than I did) but not enough to overcome its faults and it should have leaned harder into its own goofiness because that is where the true heart of the film lies.

It is a movie where you can predict story beats, its attempt at a 'twist' at the end, as well as you'll see superhero tropes that have been done over and over again in the past. Perhaps that was the point in making the movie feel kind of generic — since its hero is pretty much a generic version of Superman anyway — but there is a clear missed opportunity of pursuing uniqueness in SHAZAM!.

Levi and Grazer definitely own their roles and you can tell both were having a blast becoming their respective characters. They are indeed fun to watch together but that's where the fun stops.

Written by Daniel Wolf, Founder & Publisher