Shazam! – Film Review
Director: David F. Sandberg
Writers: Henry Gayden (screenplay by), Henry Gayden (story by)…
Stars: Zachary Levi, Michelle Borth, Djimon Hounsou
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has just run away from another foster home. He’s trying to find his mother, who he was separated from at a local fair many years before. He is deposited with Rosa and Victor, who are a well meaning couple with a large family of foster children of different ages and ethnicities. There he meets his new room-mate Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer). He’s another teenage boy but quite different as he is obsessed with Superheroes. Later at school, Billy saves Freddy from some bullies. When the bullies chase after him he manages to get away by jumping onto a subway train before it departs. That’s when things start getting weird, as he is transported to a strange world where he meets an ancient sorcerer, who wants to give him a special power.
This is another in a long line of superhero films to hit our screens. The character Shazam (once called Captain Marvel) may not be of the same calibre as Batman or Superman, but he is still one of the mainstays of the DC universe. The idea is slightly unusual as the teenage boy, Billy, transforms into the body of an adult man when he says the magic word. This allows for a variety of gags, as the boy gets to explore the world from an adult’s perspective. The film does have a touch of Tom Hank’s classic Big (1988) about it, with much of the same charm. There is even a short scene emulating the famous piano sequence from Big!
The director of the film was an unusual choice, as David F. Sandberg has mainly worked in horror films such as Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out. This is definitely the biggest release he has worked on and he does well with it. It’s a similar path followed by James Wan who recently directed Aquaman, so it should come as no real surprise.
The other noticeable thing about the film is the absence of any real star names! The character of Shazam is played by Zachary Levi, who previously worked on many major film productions, but often in the smaller roles. This film will no doubt help launch Levi as a leading man. The villain of the piece is Mark Strong, who plays Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. He is an English actor who has worked on films such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), but again often in minor roles.
This is a light hearted film that gets just about everything right. It’s a good mix of comedy and action that never takes itself too seriously. A large portion of the film involves Shazam learning about his powers and making a multitude of mistakes along the way, along with his best friend Freddy! It’s more of a kid’s film than it is a superhero film, and if you’re there for epic battles, you might be a bit short-changed. What it does deliver is a multitude of funny lines and a whole lot of heart. Whatever struggles DC had with their superhero stable have long since been put to bed!