Shazam! [2019] ★★★

In a DC universe already crammed with so many superheroes, “Shazam!” emerges as something fresh and unique. What’s more, Zachary Levi is fully up to the task (incidentally, he also starred in one of Marvel’s funniest films, “Thor: Ragnarok”). Armed with superpowers and a smart-ass attitude, Levi has a blast playing 14 year old Billy Batson’s alter ego, a superhero who only comes out by shouting out one word: Shazam! This sets the stage for a wild and often hilarious adventure that doesn’t look or sound like any DC movie I’ve seen so far. Needless to say, I had a blast with it. There is a colorful gallery of characters to add to the fun: Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie from “It”) ignites the screen as Billy’s bff, a superhero geek who also wants a piece of the action. And look out for Djimon Hounsou as the wizard who gives our hero his unique superpowers. Then there’s Mark Strong as the film’s baddie, who steals every scene he appears in. Director David F. Sanberg, who usually tackles horror films (“Annabelle: Creation” and “Lights Out”) seems like an unlikely candidate for a movie like “Shazam!”. And yet, he keeps the action coming with a dose of humor that made me (and the audience around me) laugh out loud, repeatedly. That’s what sets this movie apart from other films in this constantly evolving DC universe. It has a personality all its own and Levi may just have found the role that makes his career. He’s damn near irresistible. So is the movie. It’s easily one of DC’s best films so far.

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