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Film Review: Shazam!

26 April 19 words: Emma Walsh

In amidst all of the Marvel hoopla going on at the moment, DC are here to remind us that they're still very much in the game... 

Director: David F. Sandberg

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel

Running time: 132 mins

Even speaking as a Marvel fan, I have to admit that DC films are on the up. In the midst of the number of Marvel films being released and advertised in anticipation of Endgame, with the success of Aquaman in 2018, DC showed the potential they have to create superhero films to rival those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And Shazam! did not disappoint.

The film follows Billy (Asher Angel), a foster kid, who finds himself bestowed with the magical powers of the old wizard, Shazam (Djimon Hounsou). With the help of his new friend/foster brother, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy has to find out what these new powers can do… apart from turn him into a man in his thirties. All this, and there’s the impending threat of Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong), a man who was approached by the old wizard years before, but was told his soul was not pure enough to be given the magical powers. He commands The Eye, the power supply of the Seven Deadly Sins and the rival force of Shazam, and Billy and his family must fight to save the city of Philadelphia.

The film begins with what reveals itself to be Doctor Sivana’s backstory; the difficulty in the family dynamic, and the rejection of being told he was unworthy of Shazam’s power. A filmed villain backstory is not particularly common in superhero films, more frequently described by the stereotypical villain monologue partway through the film. However, for me, the backstory didn’t add too much to the film; it meant that the film took a while to get going, and yet the backstory itself was too rushed, attempting to cram years of family resentment, blame, and rejection into the span of about five minutes. All that, and he still had his monologue.

The film itself was largely comedic, scattered with laughs across the theatre

However, Doctor Sivana as a villain, thirty years on, was well played by Strong. Being a seasoned Hollywood blockbuster villain, with his roles in Robin Hood (2010) and Green Lantern (2011), he was obviously suited to the part, and even took the serious nature of his heroic Kingsman character, Merlin, to apply to the role.

It was perhaps this stern personality of his character that put him at complete odds to the present-day Shazam (Zachary Levi), his humour being amplified all the more as it bounced off Doctor Sivana. The film itself was largely comedic, scattered with laughs across the theatre. For example, there was the process of Levi’s Shazam seeking to find out the extent of his powers, embedded in a montage of successes and failures, backgrounded fittingly by Queen’s song Don’t Stop Me Now. Furthermore, Freddy’s character is probably most comparable to that of the kids in the Stranger Things Netflix series, basically a cynical nerd, setting the audience up for a number of laughs on his part. Above all though, Levi is, without a doubt, the star of the show; he plays the part of a manchild perfectly- and yes, that is a compliment- his humour lying not only in finding out what it is to be a superhero, but what it is to be older.

Shazam! is a must-watch DC film, with plenty of humour, fantastic leads, and a fight scene that may have spanned on slightly too long for me but may be incredible in the eyes of a DC superfan.

Did you know? Shazam is an acronym formed from the names of the gods that grant powers: Solomon - Wisdom. Hercules - Strength. Atlas - Stamina. Zeus - Power. Achilles - Courage. Mercury - Speed.

Shazam! is in cinemas now

Studio Twenty

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