“Shazam!” is refreshingly different
By Aaron Reynolds
4 out of 5 stars
There has long been a trend in Hollywood related to superhero movies. Ever since Christopher Nolan released the highly successful. not to mention critically-acclaimed, “Batman Begins” in 2005, the industry has taken a shift when it comes to the genre.
While the Adam West “Batman” of the 1960s was remarkably quirky, light-hearted, and so fun it was borderline cheesy – the “Batman” Nolan established in the early-2000s instead took a very grim and dramatic look at the franchise.
The success of “Batman Begins” has translated into a wealth of superhero epics, some of which are good, many of which are average, and a few of which are dreadful. The 2016 Deadpool,”and its subsequent follow-up was able to bring some playfulness back to the genre, yet only for R-rated audiences.
Hollywood has been badly missing a jovial and sunny superhero movie for the entire family, a problem that was finally solved this past weekend with the release of “Shazam!”
“Shazam!” is an accomplishment on two major fronts. A) It is nice to see some bubbly and good-hearted superhero movies once again. B) DC Extended Universe terribly needed another success to keep up with rival Marvel Studios, and its upcoming much anticipated “Avengers: Endgame.”
Unlike the new “Avengers,” which the Surveyor will review in next week’s newspaper, “Shazam!” doesn’t have a big-name director, an A-list star, or nearly as recognizable a story.
In many ways “Shazam!” and “Avengers” share absolutely no other similarities besides being superhero movies both being released in April. For director David F. Sandberg and Asher Angel/Zachary Levi (who take turns playing the title character) that is perfectly fine.
“Shazam!” fits its audience, which though superhero movies have become increasingly popular for all ages, was still first and foremost dedicated to adolescents and young adults when comic books were first introduced.
For those not familiar with the storyline, “Shazam!” is about a 14-year-old foster teen (Angel) who can transform into adult superhero Shazam (Levi) all by saying the one simple word. Even though the adult version of Shazam may look the part, he simply does not act like an adult. It’s kind of like the superhero version of “Big” starring Tom Hanks.
Blessed with these unique abilities, Shazam has all kinds of good intentions, yet some of them have the potential for abuse given he’s still an adolescent. For example, he could use his X-ray vision to fight off bad guys or use it to cheat on his next school exam.
Though it is difficult to make any superhero completely relatable considering they have superpowers, after all, the magic in “Shazam!” is it actually makes you feel like that could be you or me. It does a superb job of demonstrating the joyful recklessness of childhood. There is harmless humor in the story, and lots of heartfelt moments.
It is a movie that will leave you and the rest of the family rolling around in plenty of laughter while also being entertained from the usual visual standpoints. The first live-action film of the character since 1941 and, with a sequel already in the works, this is a new superhero adventure you will actually want to be a part of.
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