Review of 'Shazam!'

shazam.jpg A bit of a fun take on the superhero film as the young Billy Batson (Asher Angel) struggling to cope with his alter ego as adult caped-crusader Shazam! (Zachary Levi).

The story opens years earlier with Thaddeus Sivana (Ethan Pugiotto) being driven in a car by his critical father (John Glover) accompanied by his cruel older brother Sid (Landon Doak). Sivana finds himself spirited away into a hall lined with monstrous statues of the seven deadly sins and put to a test by a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) seeking a champion. Failing the test in attempting to pick the powers of the seven sins he is returned to his car and causes an accident resulting in his father's legs being paralyzed. Moving to the present day by deception the adult Sivana (Mark Strong) manages to return once again to the chamber and is finally able to claim the powers of the seven demons, leaving to inflict his childhood vengeance on his successful father. A few years earlier we learn Billy loses his mother at a fairground, ending up in foster care. In the present day Billy struggles to cope with moving from family to family, resorting to petty theft and misdemeanours. Placed with a caring family who already care for five other children Billy finds himself transported to the wizard's hall. The wizard having seen the power of the monsters released into the world is quite desperate and quickly makes Billy his champion despite his shortcomings. By saying “Shazam!” Billy is transformed into a superhero with a lightening stroke. He has super strength that allows him to fly, travel very fast, and makes him invulnerable to bullets. Succumbing to the wonder of it all, he poses for selfies but comes to realize that he needs to use his superpowers to defeat the power-hungry Sivana…

The whole gag of this film is the young boy finding himself as an adult superhero with these amazing superpowers and the child-like things he does with them. And it is this somewhat shallow pretence that works really well, perhaps because the actors are so utterly convincing in their roles - Asher Angel as the troubled youth and Zachary Levi when he is a superhero, channelling his inner child. Having said that, it does get a bit stale towards the end but it is at this point the action scales up a notch and we move into the final act. The whole thing is utterly convincing - The caring family, though somewhat clichéd, really does come across as caring with quirky siblings that really come across as genuine. The emphasis here is on believable characters and situations with normal, everyday faults that are not over exaggerated (though there is the bit with the school bullies' car dropped from a great height…). Sure, the effects are also convincing and look great (with some amazing set pieces) but without the solid backstory and supporting stories we have here the film would not be so good. We are immediately drawn into the film and care for what will happen to Billy and how he will come out on top…we know he will but what will it take for him to figure this out?

“Shazam!” sets the superhero mythos on its head with a superhero who not only never wanted his powers but is also forced to come to terms with being an adult at the same time – To grow up at a rapid pace. It is this journey that compels us to keep watching despite the more then 2 hour running length (yes, it is a bit long).

Really enjoyed this one. Sit back with some popcorn and take it all in…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-06-20

Directed by: David Sandberg

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2019

Length: 132 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure