Shazam is Big for Superheroes

Shazam! (2019) – Film Review

We are now over a decade into the game changing Marvel Cinematic Universe which has seen superhero films become a powerhouse genre, Shazam! is like a throwback to the pre MCU days of superhero films.

Shazam 2019 film poster
Shazam 2019 film poster

This film is nominally part of the DCEU (DC Cinematic Universe) which features Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.

But rather than the portentious heavy violence of the recent DCEU Superman and Batman films the renaissance that has worked well with Aquaman (more fun quips, less violence) has been continued here in a film which could essentially be described as a Superhero Big! Movie (yes, the Tom Hanks film!).

Asher Angel stars as Billy Batson, who is gifted a series of powers by a wizard – the ability to changing into a grown-up superhero by saying the word ‘Shazam!” – but the power is only for the pure of heart.

Batson is a 14-year-old foster kid who is placed with an eclectic and diverse foster family in working class Philadelphia and is initially dubious about the whole setup.

Zachary Levi (Chuck) stars in the Tom Hanks role as the superhero figure that Batson turns into while Jack Dylan Glazer plays Freddy – a disabled comic book fan and Billy’s foster brother and best friend.

Superhero origin movies have rarely been as fun in a Youtube age as Shazam becomes a social media star in an inventive sequence where he discovers the extent of his powers.

Mark Strong’s villainous turn as Thaddeus Sivana another plus for Shazam!

But there’s always a villain in due course and Mark Strong (Kingsman) puts in another great performance as Thaddeus Sivana who is seeking to steal Shazam’s power for himself after being rejected by the wizard years earlier.

Sivana is boosted by the Seven Deadly Sins – a cgi powered mob of gargoyles which could be scary for very young watchers.

The running time is a little on the long side for a film that plays to a younger demographic but there’s everything you’d expect to see in a modern superhero film for a slightly younger than average crowd.

The additional running time isn’t entirely wasted as we see some additional characterisation for Billy, Freddy, and Sivana but for a popcorn superhero movie it’s probably unnecessary.

Stick around for 2 post credits sequences, including one that hints at a sequel that will get recognition from hard core comic book fans.

Shazam! (12A; moderate violence, threat, horror, innuendo, bleeped strong language; 132 minutes)

Director(s): David F. Sandberg

Cast Includes: Asher Angel, Marta Milans, Grace Fulton, Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Lovina Yavari

Summary: SHAZAM! is a fantasy action adventure in which a fourteen-year-old boy gains the power to transform into an adult superhero every time he says ‘Shazam’.

Rating: **** (Big for Superheroes)