Much will be made, no doubt, over the fact that DC has finally taken some pains to escape its reputation for dark ‘n gritty superhero movies and put the “comic” back in “comic book movie” with this, the story of a teenage boy who, when he says the titular name, is transformed into a grown man with Solomon’s wisdom, Hercules’ strength, Atlas’ stamina, Zeus’ power, Achilles’ courage, and Mercury’s speed. (At least, that’s what the wizard who gives him his power tells him it does. In truth, it just makes him a teenager with a Charles Atlas bod and a bunch of Superman’s powers.) And to be sure, there is Big-style goofiness aplenty (star Zachary Levi’s grin as he tells a convenience store clerk that he’d like to purchase some of her finest beer is absolutely winning). But director David F. Sandberg remains a horror guy at heart (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation), and the ping-ponging between yuks and yikes leads to a pretty nasty case of aesthetic whiplash. There are other, equally awkward oppositions: if Shazam’s whole purpose is to conquer the embodied Seven Deadly Sins, maybe don’t have him rob an ATM (greed) so he can give more cash to strippers (lust)? And if his teenage self has spent his whole life looking for his birth mother, maybe don’t have his dramatic arc consist of realizing the importance of family? Oh, never mind, there’s gags to deliver and punching to be done.
Length: 2 hours, 12 minutes