Words Glenn Blomfield
If I was fourteen, and I saw this movie I would have one hell of a good time, my imagination would run wild with excitment. Put simply, Shazam is a fun movie with lots of humour and heart. At the centre of the film is a young fourteen year old teenage boy Billy Batson (Asher Angel). In and out of foster care he has lost his place in the world, been through many adopted families but never felt settled. He is desperate to find his Mum, to be with her. Running parallel to the story line is an ancient wizard Shazam who is in search of a new bearer of superhero powers to keep the Seven Monster Villains of Sins at bay, and also, save the Human Race from it’s demise. These two story lines converge and Billy becomes that protagonist turns into a muscle-bound adult at will, with cool powers to save the world.
Shazam is a movie that starts off with a lot of fun. The kids in the film look and feel like they are from an era of films made in the 1980’s, which we are now seeing in revival, for example, NETFLIX’s ‘Stranger Things’, or with the feature film like ‘Super 8’, teen angst mixed with supernatural feelings of a Steven Spielberg film. Director David F. Sandberg is full of glee akin to that feeling of being a teenage boy again. Imagine if your superpower was a kid that can turn into a Super Hero adult, you are definitely going to have fun, perhaps even do irresponsible things like visit a strip club for example. But of course there also comes the lesson of learning responsibility of your actions, and the importance of affecting those around you. Billy has a sidekick, a teenager Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) they meet in a new foster home, he helps Billy discover his powers, experimenting with the likes of X-ray vision, being invisible, shooting lightening bolts from his hands, buying beer at the liquor store, important things like that. There is an urgency to gain control of these new found powers, as he must face the evil villain Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) and his band of evil villain monsters.
The ‘baddie’ side of the film, feels the weakest element, as the focus of the film is the story of Billy, the foster kids and his new home. What it’s like being a kid without adult role models or parents in your life, then being an grown up yourself and also a superhero pose some serious questions. Family has more relevance, so the ‘villain’ side of things can feel like an add on. You cant have a Super hero movie without the token bad guy reeking evil against mankind. SHAZAM works well as an origin story, and will certainly have success with sequels to come.
I am not a big fan of Super Hero films, but I definitely had a lot of fun and entertainment with Shazam, the film means well, and it has the ability not to be overly schmaltzy but just enough heart to win you over. The humour may get a bit low brow and ridiculous but the majority is a winning formula. A surprise treat, Shazam has given a lift to the DC universe which has tended to be on the darker side of drama. Adults can go in to this film and capture what it feels like to be teenager again, and be entertained with imagination, adventure and fun. You also just may learn a few things along away like importance of family, and what it is to be young again, and never lose that feeling.