A rare win for the horror/comedy genre.In some respects this is a hard movie to peg. The trailer made it appear to be aimed at a young audience. Good natured goofy fun. And there was much of that. However the first half leaned heavily towards horror. And did it well.
Shazam! opens with the origin story of it's super-villain. Ably carried by both the junior and senior versions' actors, this sequence covers familiar territory of an emotionally abused child growing to a resentful adult. Mark Strong's turn as the worm that turns is, possibly, the darkest moment in this movie. You might not want to take the whole family to this movie. Watching some one lashing out with murderous rage at bullies has a grim reality, even with the magical bells and whistles.
The second half sees a lot of light hearted bumbling into heroism. Zack Levi does a delightful job in the child-in-an-adult's body bit, leading to a number of out loud laughs from the audience. And me! Once or twice I wondered if the street savy Billy Baston would be so gawky but I decided to put it down to a rush of hormones, adrenalin and super-powers. Enough to throw anyone.
Angel Asher as Billy Baston did a fine job for one so young. Taking his character through a plausible growth arch while engaging with a likeable ensemble cast of a quickly established support network in the form of his foster family. I found myself wondering if the resemblance between Asher and Levi was intentional. One, perhaps, of the many insider references in this movie. Fortunately those references weren't belaboured enough to be distracting. Just present enough to raise a few extra smiles.
The last 10-15 minuets managed to blend tones successfully. Comedy came out on top as it should in any family friendly movie. The arrival of the Marvel Family - or, more likely, the Shazam Family - most welcome. All and all, a well rounded movie. A solid foundation to a new branch for the DC franchise and another step in a more confident, more successful DC Movie Univers.