Shazam! Reviews Are In, Here's What Critics Are Saying

Zachary Levi as Shazam! DC

Charge up your weekend with the power of fresh Shazam! reviews. Critics are now free to move about the internet cabin, posting their full thoughts on DC's latest movie. Previous to this point, we saw some positive soundbite reactions on social media, but this is where you get the full context -- and often some scores/grades.

CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell gave the film 4 out of 5 stars. He raved about the casting of Zachary Levi as Shazam! but did mention the smaller scale compared to past DCEU movies, including lower stakes with Shazam!'s villain, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong):

Like Aquaman and Wonder Woman before it, Shazam! benefits tremendously from being allowed to operate outside of the DC Universe, while also acknowledging that it exists alongside movies like Man of Steel and Justice League. In comparison to those efforts, however, Shazam! can actually feel small. The stakes of the plot are relatively low, with Sivana being a threat to our hero but less of a danger to the world at large. Where Aquaman was intentionally epic in scope, Shazam! always maintains the feel of a neighborhood story, for better and for worse.

IGN's Jim Vejvoda noted that Wonder Woman and Aquaman bore the heavy weight of expectations, which was not a burden Shazam! had to carry. So it was able to be as carefree as a child and just have fun:

Shazam! is a DC’s most joyful and sweet movie since the days of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, a funny yet earnest coming-of-age story about a boy who learns that, well, with great power comes great responsibility. So obviously, Shazam! doesn’t reinvent the superhero movie, but it’s an undeniably fun time that left me wanting more big-screen adventures with these charming characters.

USA Today's Brian Truitt said Shazam! was probably the closest DC film yet to one of Marvel's projects, complete with a Spider-Man-esque lesson on "with great power comes great responsibility":

But, really, the high-flying showdowns and the holiday-themed action-packed finale (which is highly satisfying, though it goes on a bit too long) are secondary. "Shazam!” works because of its emphasis on friendship and family: Mrs. Vasquez has a bumper sticker that reads “I’m a foster mom: What’s your superpower?” that sums up the film's overall warm-hug vibe.

Hugh Armitage of DigitalSpy gave Shazam! four out of five stars, calling the "delightful" film DC's slickest and funniest movie yet. However, he echoed the note that the finale goes on a bit too long:

Best known for his horror movies, director David F Sandberg nevertheless brings flawless comic timing to Shazam!, while the movie also delivers a likeable message about the value of family, friendship and teamwork. Our greatest criticism is that the finale drags on longer than it needs to, but Shazam! is so much fun that it's a minor complaint.

Hoai-Tran Bui of /FILM gave Shazam! 8.5 stars out of 10, echoing the pacing issues, but also praising the pleasant surprise that Shazam! is more like a kid adventure than a superhero origin movie:

A raucous, charming kid adventure that is a delight to behold from start to finish, Shazam! feels like a throwback both to ’80s comedies and to the superhero movies of the early 2000s, with abundant callbacks to both genres. But rather than playing like an appeal to nostalgia, Shazam! is more of a spiritual throwback that captures the sincerity and silliness inherent in the superhero genre, while delivering a heartfelt story about the power of found families.

Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press gave the movie 3.5/4 stars, pointing out some of the flaws while emphasizing that they don't detract from the overall experience:

OK, so it’s basically Big with superheroes and villains instead of businesspeople and girlfriends, but director David F. Sandberg has infused his film with so much heart and charm that it hardly matters. Even the deficiencies, like the sluggish beginning and the random, ridiculous villains, fade away under a haze of goodwill because unlike so many big spectacle action pics with sequels in mind, Shazam! actually sticks the landing.

Todd Gilchrist of Birth.Movies.Death was more critical, saying DC's movie needed more adult guidance:

Conversely, I’m not sure if Shazam! is the exact superhero movie that a kid would make for him or herself, or it’s a perfect encapsulation of studio groupthink trying to anticipate what that imaginary kid wants. Unfocused, noisy and way, way too chatty, director David Sandberg’s adaptation of the DC character supplies plenty of routine superhero theatrics and “when I grow up” wish fulfillment, but its eagerness to explore the notion of family at the expense of real character development - and the seeming absence of adult guidance both on and off screen - delivers far too little in the way of true inspiration.

However, he also wrote it was almost disappointing that Shazam! won’t be crossing over with Justice League in the near future, since the character brings a childlike sense of wonder and fun to the DCEU.

Overall, the reviews still sound quite positive. Since the embargo for Shazam! just dropped, we'll have to wait a bit to see the full picture on Rotten Tomatoes, but it's currently at 97% from 32 reviews. The CinemaScore from moviegoers won't show up until opening night.

In terms of how much Shazam! might make after its April 5 opening? Well, you know projections are often wrong. Many thought Captain Marvel was going to open to "only" $100 million and it made a lot more than that on its way toward The Billion Dollar Club.

At this point, early tracking suggests Shazam! will open anywhere from $40 million to $50 million in the first weekend of April. It's not expected to reach the lofty heights of the DCEU's Aquaman, but the reviews have been positive and it looks like a good time. What more do you want? Besides a lot of money so they can justify more movies?

Shazam! opens in theaters April 5 as one of the many movies heading to the big screen that month, and in the rest of 2019.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.