For those of a ‘certain age’, ‘Shazam!’ would be very familiar. A popular staple of Saturday morning TV in the 1970’s, the live-action ‘Shazam!’ series gained a generation of fans. Although its special effects were rubbery as well as the performances, it had a rough charm. The new movie version has a budget the TV show could only have dreamt about. Based on the comic-book which was created in 1939, ‘Shazam!’ is a light-hearted romp with virtuous heroes looking mighty even while wearing spandex.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a teenage orphan living with is foster family in Fawcett City. Travelling home on a train, he is mysteriously transported to another dimension where he meets an ancient wizard who bestows upon him god-like powers. When uttering the wizard’s name – Shazam – Billy turns into the like-named hero (Zachary Levi). His transformation comes just in time as he faces the vile evil of industrialist Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong). Billy/Shazam goes to great lengths to prove his worth as earth’s newest hero in the never-ending battle for justice.

Although it has its problems, ‘Shazam!’ is good fun. Only those with continuously dour dispositions would frown at its antics. Shazam is basically a child trapped in a man’s body learning the hard way the value of loyalty and using his powers for good. Whilst the word ‘journey’ may elicit groans, the screenplay pushes Billy on a road to discovery to be the person he is whilst dealing with various heroics.

The performances are on point with Angel and Levi successfully conveying the same personalities in different bodies. Their co-stars are fine without being particularly memorable. Letting events down is David F. Sandberg’s slack direction and glacial pacing. Too much time is spent on setting up Shazam’s skill developments with the finale taking forever to end. Less is always more as the cliché goes even if the CGI is amazing as ever with the many fight sequences eye-popping in their spectacle.

‘Shazam!’ doesn’t re-invent the superhero wheel and takes too long to tell its tale. As an overview of what has made the character enduring it mostly works. It makes those who grew up watching the TV series feel even more elderly, a power even Shazam didn’t need a wizard to provide.

Rating out of 10: 6

No Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI
You can also bookmark this on del.icio.us or check the cosmos

« Pet Semetary    Dumbo »