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Shazam! Early Reviews: A Spectacular Coming-Of-Age Superhero Triumph

Shazam and Freddy

Early reviews for Shazam! are rolling in just head of the film's April 5 release. Based on the comic series of the same name, this film marks the first big screen DC film of the year, following the massive success of Aquaman last December.

In Shazam!, a 14-year-old foster kid named Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is imbued with super powers after an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) personally chooses him to be his super-powered champion - and more noticeably transforms him into an adult superhero (played by Zachary Levi) by simply uttering the word "Shazam." Though his new abilities start off as fun and games, with Billy and his foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) testing out his new powers, he soon discovers that he has to use them for good in order to stop a super villain named Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Now, after some early reactions already suggested that the film did justice to the source material, the official reviews are finally out.

Related: Does Shazam Have A Post-Credits Scene (& How Many)?

With the embargo for Shazam! finally lifted, the reviews for the film call it a success. After the long wait, with fans desperate to see how the film and its humorous tone would ultimately fare, the general consensus is definitely Team Shazam. Check out the SPOILER FREE review excerpts below:

Shazam Jack Dylan Grazer Zachary Levi

Molly Freeman - Screen Rant

Shazam! is a different kind of DC movie than those that have been released in recent years, but that derives from Sandberg and Gayden building the film from a character-focused standpoint. Because Shazam has a sillier origin story, it makes sense for the movie to be on the lighter, more humorous side. Though it still has moments of darkness and drama, they are mostly earned by the film, even if the balance isn't always quite right.

Owen Gleiberman - Variety

“Shazam!,” on the other hand, is just a light, funny, grounded, engagingly unpretentious sleight-of-hand action comedy about a boy in a (super)man’s body. The movie, in other words, is “Big” in tights. And it’s Zachary Levi who makes that work, in much the same way that Tom Hanks did.

Susana Polo - Polygon

Shazam! embraces the the absurd gaggle of elements in Billy Batson’s origin story — subway rides; wizards; a mixture of figures from Christianity, Judaism, and Greek mythology; a hero who wears a marching band cape — and succeeds by never spending a moment acting like anyone would consider them absurd at all. I would argue that it does this in an even more compelling way than Aquaman, despite the fact that Shazam! has to juxtapose its fantastical elements with downtown Philadelphia.

Alex Abad-Santos - Vox

It’s not that the movie’s buoyancy alone makes it so stellar; fun doesn’t always outweigh grimness. Nolan’s The Dark Knight is grisly, powerful, and the pinnacle of superhero storytelling. This is instead a matter of execution, and Shazam’s hilarious script and unflinching commitment to the earnestness of its comic book source material work in tandem to deliver the joyous high notes it’s going for.

Chris Nashawaty - EW

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.

As if the positive reviews weren't enough, DC fans are in good hands in the foreseeable future. Between the long list of upcoming films, like Joker, Birds of Preyand The Suicide Squad (which has Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn at the helm) and the new DC Universe streaming service, with shows like Titans and Doom Patrol, there is plenty to pick from. After struggling to kick off the earliest iteration of the DCEU, Warner Bros. has finally found its footing.

Based off Shazam!'s early reactions alone, it was more or less evident that the final and official takeaway from critics would be positive - which is fitting, considering that the titular character himself is beaming with positivity. Whether or not it'll manage to live up to the daunting box office expectations set by Aquaman, only time will tell. For now, though, fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Warner Bros. is on a solid winning streak.

More: Shazam's Origin Story, Powers & Movie Changes Explained

Source: Various (see the above links)

Key Release Dates
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
  • DC Super Pets (2021) release date: May 21, 2021
  • The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date:
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