As a hard core DC fan, I was very disappointed to see that the theatre I watched Shazam in, was half-empty. It’s as if people have given up on DC as a franchise owing to its past collection of disappointing movies. But DC redeemed itself with this movie and shattered its bad reputation spectacularly, all in two hours and twelve minutes. And that alone, should motivate the public to give DC another chance. Based on the new origin story of Shazam from the Justice League comics, interspersed with some parts from the original origin story from the Whiz Comics, this movie achieves the perfect balance between being a box office hit and being an entertaining watch, all the while retaining essential life lessons for young adults.
Billy Batson, a rebellious orphan runs away from every foster home he is assigned to, just to find his long lost mother. Revolving around this plot, Shazam takes you on the journey of a teenager getting to know himself around the same time that he realises family is the most important thing in the world. Filled with unpredictable turns, chin tickling comedy and a millennial take on the concept of super heroes, this movie will leave you with a smile on your face and a happy feeling in the pit of your stomach. Director David Sandberg has nailed the intriguing nuances of adolescence that every teenager faces, with a hilariously real take on it all. As enjoyable as this movie was, it does get a little boring after the interval, as it feels as though the movie is stretching on of its own accord. The credits are innovative as they show the illustrated versions of all the DC super heroes with the super heroes of Shazam in a funny, adventurous setting, doing usual super hero stuff (Like Shazam nicking the Batmobile from the Bat). A nice way of welcoming Shazam to the DC family. The custom of having a post-credits scene dedicated to the uprising of the fallen villain continues, so kindly, do not leave after the credits.
A close up on the bumper sticker of Billy Batson’s foster mom’s car reads, ‘I’m a foster mom. What’s your superpower’ makes a very powerful and phenomenally endearing statement. My favourite scene was where the villain, Dr. Sivana is making his ‘evil guy’ speech, which our hero cannot hear, as super hearing is not one of his powers. It was both comical and refreshing. Amusing are the many super hero ‘nicknames’ of Shazam, with the most ludicrous being Captain Sparklefingers. The strip club scenes, however, are ill advised, as the movie’s target audience is a sea of pre-teens and pubescent teenagers.
Asher Angel makes for a cute, convincing, misunderstood teenager. However, once Zachary Levi enters the frame as his superhero alter-ego, Angel’s performance seems pale by comparison. Levi steals the show with his amicable and energetic display of Shazam, although, he does look a little ‘old’ now. Mark Strong stands a class apart as the villain, Dr. Sivana and sets a new bar for the depiction of typically heartless, soul-less arch enemies. The understated highlight of this film is Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Freddy Freeman, a crippled boy and Billy’s brother turned best friend. Not your average side-kick, Grazer plays out the angst of being invisible and unimportant, commendable and somehow reminds me of a young Freddie Highmore. The chemistry of Levi and Grazer is a tribute to all brotherhood. Djimon Hounsou is startlingly unrecognisable as the wizard Shazam, seeking a ‘worthy’ successor to protect the human world from the Seven Deadly Sins. Needless to say, he gives a gripping, ‘applause worthy’ performance. Faithe Herman as the little Darla is innocently sweet and Grace Fulton as Mary gives an okay performance as the protective older sister who loves her family more than anything. The rest of the foster children (a.k.a the Shazam family) do a great job on the subsequent bonding, both as brothers and sisters and as superheroes. But the alter-ego, superhero counterparts of all the child actors (except of course, Zachary Levi) are average at best.
What makes for an interesting factoid and a hats off to DC’s thoughtful, creative skills, Shazam is actually an acronym for all the Greek Gods, whose superpowers our hero is blessed with. The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury; all of which come together to make SHAZAM. The fight between good and evil in this film, and everything in between, can be summed up in Zachary Levi’s dialogue, “What is the use of having power if you have nobody to share it with.” A delightfully engaging and all-rounder of a movie, Shazam is not to be missed. I give it 3.5 chirps.