When it comes to making movies, it would appear that the character type of choice at the moment is some form of hero. If a character can fly, or shoot lasers, fight like a champion and ultimately save the day, then it’s popular. It’s commonly thought that the Avengers and the Marvel Mega Machine rule the roost when it comes to the Superhero genre and in 2019, Shazam! From the DC universe came flying onto our cinema screens. As I have said before, I am not the world’s biggest fan of superhero movies, seeing as I find them a bit too samey and just not to my taste, but here we go, this is the sort of easy watching film that you end up watching with your family over the festive season. And Shazam! Is exactly that, easy watching family viewing.
Shazam! Tells the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a 14-year-old foster kid struggling to find his place in the world who suddenly, through a strange meeting with ancient wizard Shazam, gains the ability to transform into a superhero. At first amazed by his powers and delighting in testing them out with best friend Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy soon has to master his powers to face super villain Dr Thaddeus Sivana and the Seven deadly enemies of man.
With Zachery Levi in the role of Shazam, Billy’s adult superhero counterpart, this film does feature some comical moments based in the confusion of a teenager suddenly becoming an adult, something that many films have touched on before. It’s funny to see a teenager as an adult, realising that he can stay out late and buy alcohol, realising that he can do things that he couldn’t do before. It gives Billy a confidence that he was lacking before, and a platform on which to build a friendship with superhero obsessed Freddie. Levi shows off his natural flair for comedy in the role of Shazam, showing both a childish side and the sense of responsibility when he realises that it is up to him to defeat the villains and save the ones he loves.
Comedy also comes in the form of Billy’s fellow foster kids, living in a group home with foster parents Rosa and Victor Vasquez. From little chatterbox Darla (Faithe Herman) to conflicted teenager Mary (Grace Fulton), this mismatched family dynamic fits with the film’s overall idea of finding somewhere to belong and feel at home. Mark Strong plays a dark and convincing villain in the role of Dr. Sivana, in charge of the deadly enemies and determined to take over the world. Asher Angel plays the teenage Billy, a boy who thought his biggest concern was finding his mother before he had a tonne of superhero powers thrown at him. An endearing and all together likable character, Angel plays him well displaying the emotions of a child wanting his mother, the excitement of gaining superpowers and the dread of the world saving responsibilities. Jack Dylan Grazer also impresses as Freddie, an odd one out at school who finds a friend in Shazam!
In terms of the action scenes, this film manages to break away from the explosions and chases that I find all too repetitive in other superhero movies. It is comedy that makes the difference, a superhero who doesn’t really know what to do or how to do it, bumbling his way through it all, it’s funny, it’s different.
That being said, the final action sequence does feel too lengthy and a little bit drawn out. Pair this fact with the movies slow start and the entire run time feels about half an hour too long, which is a real shame as it makes it all too easy to start to lose interest. In conclusion, Shazam! Is family friendly viewing which pairs the superhero genre with messages such as the importance of home and family. It’s entertaining, different from the norm for hero movies and enjoyable, just a little bit too long for my attention span.