What superpower would you have if you had the choice? Would you fly? Would you have superhuman strength? Or would you be invisible? These fantasies are what fill the minds of most boys and girls, but one boy is going to find out exactly what it means to have great power, great responsibility and a great family.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is an orphan. He knows his mother is out there and he’s been searching for a long time, unfortunately Billy is close to getting on the wrong side of the law in order to find her. Taken into a foster home, Billy meets the children that live there and his new foster parents. Initially unsure about his new surroundings, he makes friends with Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) and slowly starts to settle into his new family life. However, little does he know but Billy has a great destiny that awaits him.
Shazam is the latest superhero movie from Warner Bros/DC Comics that pulls from the enormous well of comic book characters to bring a new hero to the big screen. After the critical and commercial failures of recent DC movies featuring the comic company’s most famous characters, taking a little-known superhero and putting a child friendly comedic spin on the superhero genre was quite a risk. Luckily that risk has paid off.
After being summoned by a great wizard (Djimon Hounsou), all Billy has to do is to say his name and the wizard’s powers will belong to him. However, a side effect is that after his transformation, Billy will change into an all-powerful, adult sized superhero named Shazam (Zachary Levi) and Billy isn’t ready to be thrust into adulthood just yet. However, he must adjust quickly, because someone is coming to take back the powers that have been bestowed upon Billy and use them for himself.
Unlike other superhero movies, Shazam takes something that hasn’t been seen in the genre for a long time and mixes it with an old-fashioned (in a good way) family movie. These days there is so much at stake when a superhero film is made. There are high expectations for a new franchise even if the majority of its audience has never heard of the titular character. There’s also the balance to think about, whether it be dark and brooding or whether it be light but filled with anticipation due to all the films that came before it. A superhero film has to delight both new audiences and hardcore fans alike and I’m happy to say that Shazam is an all-round crowd-pleaser.
The script is hilarious and it’s a refreshing change to see a superhero film that’s not bogged down by what came before so it can have a chance to be its own thing. Shazam knows this all too well and it has a lot of fun with it, not caring about whether there will be a sequel (I’m sure there will be) or whether it will make a billion dollars. Shazam is there to purely entertain and it does so in spades. The cast are all excellent and clearly having fun, from Levi’s Shazam to Mark Strong’s villainous Dr. Sivana, they all know exactly what they’re doing and revel in the freedom to be funny, over the top and give an audience exactly what it wants.
There is also a lot of heart in the movie and sometimes a little realism in the background which grounds Billy’s story and helps to enforce the bond with his foster family but the film doesn’t stay there long as the sharp, witty script leaves the audience smiling. When boys and girls dream of being a superhero, the thing that drives them is the hope that one day their lives will be amazing as they had always hoped.
The way that the film brings out that hope is something that is rarely seen in superhero movies these days and it is a welcome return and something more movies in the genre should be doing. So, for a funny, heart-warming and uplifting movie there is only one word I can say. SHAZAM!
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