The couple beside me didn’t mind I shouted Shazam! together with Billy several times during the movie.
Billy Batson is a serial foster home runaway obsessed with locating his long-lost mother. While fleeing from bullies at his latest school, he is magically transported to a different realm, thereafter gaining incredible superhero abilities from an ancient wizard. His new powers, rivalling even those of Superman, then becomes a great source of amusement for Billy and his new foster brother Freddy, as well as an avenue for some quick pocket money-making. What Billy doesn’t know, though, is that he’s hardly the only mortal ever assessed by the wizard. To say there are disgruntled previous supplicants is a gross understatement.
I don’t know whether I’m over reading it but there was something very 80s-ish about Shazam! The young ensemble and their trouble-making, their joint-adventures, reminded me of classics like Goonies and The Monster Squad. The extended big bash, inclusive of plot surprise, screamed Superman II to me too.
Speaking of Superman, Billy’s “first night out” seems so much a parody of the one from the Donner movie. (Though, of course, S1 is from ’78. The movie that established the formula)
Was it all intentional? DCEU’s deliberate competition for MCU’s Captain Marvel? Why by the way, the name of which USED to be Billy’s title? (The movie endlessly picks at this, btw)
Whatever it is, I tremendously enjoyed Shazam! Its familiar, retrolicious approach could be criticised as predictable. But something being old doesn’t mean it no longer entertains.
Needless to say, the superb performances by Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer was the additional icing. The trio not only convinces they are genuinely having fun with all that super-powered nonsense, they seriously understand what the joy is all about. This being the fulfilment of dreams.
As for Mark Strong’s villain, regrettably, here’s one area in which the old approach didn’t quite work. Despite the reworked backstory, Sivana still felt too single-mindedly evil i.e. not too unlike silly Golden Age comic book villains. Had the character not been portrayed by a capable actor like Strong, the character of Sivana would have been downright dreary. This is one area that DCEU still needs much work on.
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