Star – Zachery Levi
My Rating ***
Genre – Action
Run Time – 2 Hours 12 Minutes.
Certificate – PG13
Country – U.S.A
Oscars – 1 nomination
Awards – 16 Nominations
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So Shazam, unofficially our first big screen comic book gay superhero. DC Comics have not confirmed that yet but it’s less than subtle in the movie, a return to the camp caped crusaders of the 1970s and those tight Lycra pants. Let’s be honest, what was really going on with Batman and Robin in their little man cave late at night when Disco was big? Robin was digitally extracted from Batman in the new millennium re-launch to put that one to bed, so to speak.
SHAZAM is, apparently, an acronym from the names of the gods that bequeath powers. First is 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. The character was originally based too closely to Marvels, Captain Marvell so held back for the right time to release him as the more metro sexual version, Captain Marvel, of course a female.
Zachary Levi … Shazam
Mark Strong … Dr. Sivana
Asher Angel … Billy Batson
Jack Dylan Grazer … Freddy Freeman
Adam Brody … Super Hero Freddy
Djimon Hounsou … Wizard
Faithe Herman … Darla Dudley
Meagan Good … Super Hero Darla
Grace Fulton … Mary Bromfield
Michelle Borth … Super Hero Mary
Ian Chen … Eugene Choi
Ross Butler … Super Hero Eugene
Jovan Armand … Pedro Peña
D.J. Cotrona … Super Hero Pedro
Marta Milans … Rosa Vasquez
We begin in 1974 in Upstate New York, a young Thaddeus Sivana (Jonas Schwartz) arguing with his dad and older brother in a car on a wet night, where it skids off the road and nearly kills them all from the kid messing around in the back seat. During that trauma the kid is seemingly transported to another realm where he meets an Ancient Wizard, Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), at the Rock of Eternity in an underground temple. But he fails the test put to him by the wizard and flashed back to real time and the back of the car, his father lying seriously injured on the ground.
It’s the present day and we meet highschool kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a troublesome boy going through a series of foster parents after being rejected by his parent as a young boy. But it looks like his life is about to calm down a bit when he is put in a foster home with a group of other kids he seems to get on with, bonding quickly with a lad called Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazeer), who has a moderate disability and needs a crutch but mobile enough for the kids to get up to all-sorts.
During a lonely ride on a tube train after running away, Billy is suddenly flung into the realm and challenged to do the same test by the Wizard. He passes with flying colors and suddenly a fully grown 30-year-old caped crusader, whether he likes it or not, a small boy in a man’s body, tasked with a mission to return the seven deadly sins.
Flung back to reality it doesn’t take long for him to convince Freddy he is indeed still Billy in this adult body and costume and when he says the words ‘Shazam’, he returns to 15-year-old Billy without the costume. To kids it’s time to have fun with this good fortune and soon getting up to all sorts to exploit Shazam super powers to make money and have fun, as kids would do. Freddy films everything as they learn his skills and puts it all on YouTube. But superheroes must be responsible and its time he grew up and put his powers for good.
Our soon to be super villain who will go head-to-head with him is Dr. Sivani (Mark Strong), who is a professor investigating strange paranormal experiences. He, to, will have a meeting in the stone temple as all hell breaks loose on Earth, quite literally…
Its $100 million budget did $350 million, decent enough, but comic book films expected to make much more money, even DC ones. The big studios use 50% of their budgets making these Marvel and DC movies and so they have to make big returns so to pay for smaller projects. I’m not sure if $350 m is enough for Shazam 2 to happen in its current form, the sequel confirmed. I guess they will develop the sexuality side of Shazam if it does happen and that maybe too much for certain countries around the world where these films are expected to earn big. Recently a South East Asian country saw the censor cut out a lesbian alien kiss and cuddle in the background of the new Star Wars movie, because these films are targeted at younger audiences.
It’s good fun although more juvenile than most superheroes film with little or no jokes for mum and dad. The action ramps up through the movie to familiar and cliche showdowns and the battle of good and evil at the end drags on for way too long. Mark Strong is perfectly fine as the super villain although nothing original there. Zachary Levi has a trickier job of playing that kid in a man’s body swap role thing but also being a little bit camp to suggest his adult homosexuality to come. The studios are under a pressure – that’s probably manufactured – to include more LGBT characters and mess around with the original comic book characters and their genders, Lando Calrissian in Star Wars an example of, Deadpool another. Marvels Eternals will include a transgender character.
This is a good family watch for younger kids and although some scary monsters it’s all tongue-in-cheek action. It doesn’t excel in the special effects department as it doesn’t need to as or superhero is only learning his powers. It’s very much a toe dip in the water for the Shazam character the way it’s played. It is not one of the top twenty superhero films of the new millennium though and has work to do to decide what it is.
Imdb.com 7.1 /10.0 – (206,231votes)
Rottentomatos.com –90 % critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 71% critic’s approval