Shazam! Movie Review: A kid-friendly jolly entertainer
Zachary Levi plays Billy Batson a.k.a Shazam, a superhero who is actually a 14-year-old boy magically transformed by uttering the titular incantation
U/A: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Director: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Zachary Levi, Michelle Borth, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong
Moving from dark and foreboding (Batman, Batman Vs Superman, Suicide Squad) to bright, frothy and fun (Wonder Woman, Aquaman) and now Shazam!, DC Comics appears to have gotten a lead on its entreaty. This film based on a lesser known comic book, in which Zachary Levi plays Billy Batson a.k.a Shazam, a superhero who is actually a 14-year-old boy magically transformed by uttering the titular incantation, is kid-friendly, has a strong jocular vein and advocates family values at a time when families are breaking apart because of selfish, individualised pursuits.
Watch the Shazam! trailer here:
Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam!, is an origin story of the titular character as well as the villain, Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). The villain, in fact, is first shown as a little boy bullied and blamed for all calamities that befall, by his older brother and domineering father. So when he believes and actualises in taking control of the dark powers of the Seven Deadly Sins, you still empathise with his need to prove himself worthy. It's only when he pursues Shazam that we get conflicted and confused about whom to root for. More so because Shazam, being just a kid and forced to play in the adult league, takes a long time getting a handle on himself, his powers and eventually coming into his own.
Billy Batson's own history comes into play to swing empathy to his side. Separated from his unwed, teen mother at a carnival and subsequently sent to a series of Philadelphia foster homes - from which he continually runs away, he eventually winds up with an extended foster family of five, including disabled Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), who walks with the aid of a crutch and is obsessed with all things superhero. With Freddy as the wonder-struck side-kick, the duo embarks on theatrical antics that are delightfully fantastic.
The battles between Shazam and Dr Sivana don't amount to much other than CGI driven plot mechanics. The CGI incarnations of the seven deadly sins and those highlighting the powers of Shazam and his siblings never get distinctive enough to keep us hooked. The rather long 131 mins runtime also takes a toll on the overall enjoyment. Despite the negatives, this film manages to drum up anticipation and leave a smile on your face after the end credits!
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