Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.
Review: I have to admit. That I was never really a big fan of Shazam in the comics or of the Shazam TV series, which was also known as Captain Marvel back in the 1970s. But this film has done much to change my mind and made me embrace my inner child.
The storyline is very much an origin for the character. The film begins by giving us the origin for the villain of the piece who gets summoned to Shazam’s lair and is invited to take on the mantle. But instead, he is tempted by the seven demons who represent the seven deadly sins. And as such Shazam banishes him from the lair and his life pretty much spirals from that point on. With him making it a life long quest to get back to the lair and reconnect with the crystal that gives him the power of the seven deadly sins.
The story then switches to introduce Billy Batson who is a runaway foster kid that is searching for his mother who abandoned him years earlier. Billy gets picked up by the cops after stealing a cops lunch and is thrown back into the foster care system and is placed in a group home where he meets a disabled kid called Freddy. When he sees Freddy getting bullied by some bigger kids Billy intervenes and while running away from the bullies he winds up meeting Shazam and proves to be pure of heart enough to take over the mantle of Shazam from the old wizard.
From that point on it’s fun and games until he meets Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and his seven demons.
It really goes without saying, but Zachary Levi is just perfect casting for the adult version of Billy who becomes Shazam. There is no other actor that I know of who can embrace the childlike energy required. You genuinely believe that Levi is a 14-year-old in the body of an adult superheroes body. It’s obvious that the actors time on ‘Chuck’ has stood him in good stead for this role.
Levies performance is helped along by a brilliant co-star in Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Billy’s friend Freddie Freeman.
While Mark Strong chews the scenery as the ultimate bad guy in Dr. Thaddeus.
Shazam is a multi-purpose film in that it is both a superhero story, coming of age story and a movie for and about family. Billy starts out as a rebellious teen that doesn’t trust anyone, but over the course of the film, he does a lot of growing and finds a family and friends who accept him. It’s a film with a powerful message about both the light and dark side of human nature.
I also loved the ongoing joke of naming Shazam with a superhero name, which was a knowing and fun nod to the legal issues surrounding Shazam and the fact that he was also called Captain Marvel. We even get a fun homage to the film ‘Big’ when Shazam anxiously dances a few notes on one of those touch sensitive floor panels that they have in toy stores.
Overall. Shazam is a fantastic film that all can enjoy no matter the age. I was sat with a dad and his kids and the youngest of the children was absolutely loving it.
This film is DC and Warner Bros channeling the lighter and more silly side of superheroes. More like this please!
- Incidental Music9.4