Saturday 8 June 2019

Shazam! ★★★☆☆

We live in a Marvel world. Marvel’s slate for 2019 includes Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home and more. Each of these films promise critical acclaim, enormous success at the box office and a general level of quality that no other superhero films can ever reach. You know what I mean? A Marvel film is announced, we can be safe in the knowledge it’ll be great. A DC film however…that’s a little harder to predict. When DC rears it’s oft-ugly head, there’s a chance it’ll be good, sure – but also an equal chance that it’ll be abysmal.

2013 birthed DC’s answer to Marvel’s cinematic universe with the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. From there, we were given Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League and Aquaman. How many of those can you argue are genuinely good films? 1, 2 tops? Well, here’s another one for you to debate. David F. Sandberg’s Shazam!

The film supposes that we all have a superhero inside of us, and it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson's (Asher Angel) case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do -- have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he'll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr Thaddeus Sivana (everyone’s favourite bad guy Mark Strong) can get his hands on Shazam's magical abilities.

Shazam very accurately captures and portrays the childlike wonder in all of us when it comes to superheroes. While DC has often been accused of being entirely too dark with films like Batman v Superman, the same criticism simply cannot be extended to this colourful laugh-fest. Sure, there is darkness here – but it’s certainly a far more entertaining old-school romp than previous DC efforts. Thanks mainly to Angel and Levi who portray Billy Batson/Shazam respectively, there’s a heck of a lot of heart in Shazam and it is evident throughout.

There’s not a huge amount else worth saying about Shazam. It certainly isn’t particularly fresh or original with regards to its plot – an ordinary guy gains incredible powers and must escape the clutches of an evil doctor and learn to harness his powers for good, yadda yadda yadda. The main thing to take away from Shazam is the tonal difference to previous entries in the cinematic universe! This film is FUN and light-hearted. It doesn’t leave you feeling f***ing depressed like Zack Snyder’s attempts. It’s entertaining and enjoyable as superhero movies should be. Strong visuals and a simple plot make the film a nice, easy watch and a hearty slice of escapism from the shit of this world.

But on the whole, it’s no masterpiece. It’s no Infinity War. This is not a film that is going to stand the test of time and certainly continues to prove that DC are no match for the behemoth that is Marvel. DC really need to step their game up if they’re ever going to have a chance to compete. Shazam is good, light-hearted, wholesome fun. 

Sam Love

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