DC isn’t taking its foot of the gas in the war for your cinema-going money as it takes on Marvel with another superhero movie, this time an anti-hero almost, if only we hadn’t had that already.
Shazam! strikes onto our screens, though it’s taken the long way round to get here, bringing us the back story to kid Billy Batson, Asher Angel (“Andi Mack (TV)”, “Asher Angel: Getaway [Short]”), before he becomes Shazam!, Zachary Levi (“Thor: Ragnarok“, “Chuck (TV)”).
Batson finds himself lost at a fairground when he’s a child and his mother, for some reason, doesn’t come looking for him, but he looks for her, running away from homes and families in the search for his own.
When he winds up with Victor Vasquez, Cooper Andrews (“The Walking Dead (TV)”, “Den Of Thieves“), and Rosa Vasquez, Marta Milans (“The Pier (TV)”, “Shame”), and their many, many orphan children, including Freddy Freeman, Jack Dylan Grazer (“It“, “Beautiful Boy“), he doesn’t realise what he has, though they do and eventually help him find his mother.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town Dr. Sivana, Mark Strong (“Kingsman: The Golden Circle“, “Miss Sloane“), has spent his life looking for the Wizard, Djimon Hounsou (“Captain Marvel“, “Serenity“), who gave him a chance to have some power when he was younger, a chance he now wants back.
But he doesn’t get that power, instead choosing the evil way, whilst Batson is given the good, turning him into Shazam! From here on out, our new superhero, who’s really a 13-year old kid, must find his superpowers whilst also finding his family, whilst our new supervillain tracks him down.
To kick things off Shazam! is funny, it has more than a few laugh out loud moments alongside its slightly silly nature and overdone superhero costumes.
The downside with Shazam! is that it’s far too long, over two-hours, and it takes an age to get to the actual superhero business. Leading up to that, the backstory, the orphan kid looking for a family when it’s right in front of him, is all too predictable.
You are always at least one-step ahead of the film and you feel like you’re waiting for it to catch up to you. We’ve seen it all before, we’ve seen it done better, and rather than skipping straight to the point, writers Henry Gayden (“Earth To Echo”, “Zombie Roadkill (TV)”) and Darren Lemke (“Goosebumps“, “Turbo”), laboriously go over every minutia of Batson’s backstory.
Even when Batson becomes Shazam! it feels like it takes an age for him to get the point, meanwhile you got it some time ago.
This is bad, obviously, and whilst the film is rated a 12A (the same as Iron Man) it feels like it’s aimed at a much younger market, a lot like a kids version of Deadpool, the end credits with the cartoon Shazam! don’t help the “here’s what we wanted to make” feeling.
Shazam! is a decent film, it’s funny, it has a good story, Levi is decent, Angel a touch too moody, Grazer is spot-on as always, I think we’re going to see great things from this kid, and you know what you’re getting with Strong, a strong, dependable performance (pardon the pun).
It’s a good film, funny and heart-warming, but it’s far too long and far too predictable to take on the might of Marvel, but let’s hope it sparks a DC comeback, it’s gonna’ be a shame when all we can watch is what Disney want us to see.