In the uncertain world of DC, it’s “Shazam!” that is the light that guides our path, as we are introduced to a superhero who is a man of the people – and one we wish to share our “finest beers” with. The long-gestating flick got David F. Sandberg on board to direct in 2017, and the former Black Adam Dwayne Johnson to produce. Star Zachary Levi has previously said “the idea is that it’s gonna feel like the movie “Big”, but with super powers” – and to be honest I couldn’t think of a better way to describe the film.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a troubled 14-year old, who after losing his mum at a fair as a young boy has bounced from foster home to foster home ever since. Throughout the years he has never given up the quest to find his mother, and his latest attempt to find her lands him in hot water with the Police- and into a new foster home. The new family seem promising, and though stand-offish, Billy finds himself in a group of other kids who need some extra love – including Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), who quickly becomes his best friend at school and home.
Meanwhile the ancient wizard Shazam is on the quest to find “the one”, a new champion to take over his job of protecting the world against the Seven Deadly Sins. The new champion must be pure of heart, and many people have been rejected from the job. One such reject is Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who came face-to-face with Shazam as a young boy, and has spent his life searching for a way to get back in front of the Wizard for another shot at becoming the one.
It is then that Billy gets a shot at the throne, and after meeting with Shazam, putting a hand on his staff (absolutely nothing suss), and yelling “Shazam!”, Batson takes on the job as the superhero, in the form of the much more built Zachary Levi. Billy and Freddy discover that yelling “Shazam!” can take him back and forth between boy and superhero, and they also work together to work out the subtleties of his new super-powers.
Between learning to fly, taking full advantage of the lightning coming out of his hands and the super strength he’s acquired, the new Champion of Eternity finds himself embroiled in a battle with Thaddeus, who still seeks the powers of Shazam, while unleashing his own new powers – which involve releasing the Seven Deadly Sins into the world again.
“Shazam!” is a fun and hilarious journey from beginning to end, and is truly unique in its tone – which it sets, and sticks to, for the entirety of the film. Levi is a true stand out as Shazam, playing a 14-year old in the body of a 30-something-year-old man. That’s not to take away from the other half of this hero, with Angel portraying a young boy who is trying to find his feet in the world while lacking the support of an immediate family.
The film is a rarity in that it never tries to achieve too much, and while the runtime pushes 2 hours, you’d be hard-pressed to find any unnecessary footage. There are scenes that have you gripping your seat, but others that will see you laughing out loud at some genuinely clever dialogue. The subplot surrounding the concept of family is heartwarming and a true testament that family doesn’t always have to be blood – you can find them in a foster home and a group of unlikely characters that find something to bond over.
“Shazam!” is out now on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital from Roadshow