'Shazam' balances humour with genuine sentimentality | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 19, 2019


'Shazam' balances humour with genuine sentimentality

Shazam is about a teenage boy, Billy Batson, who becomes a powerful superhero whenever he says the word 'Shazam'. So, like Tom Hanks in Big, you have a young boy grappling with being in an adult body. But he also has to fight a supervillain and several dastardly CGI beasts that represent the seven deadly sins. Billy also gets separated from his mother at a young age and is placed at a group home run by Victor and Roza Vazquez, a couple who have five other foster children.

Noted actor Zachary Levi pulls off the predicament of a teen trapped in an adult's body with ease and is likable, so much so that it might just be a career-defining role for him. Asher Angel as young Billy and Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Billy's foster brother, are also brilliant.

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Many eyebrows were raised when it was announced that David F Sandberg would be directing Shazam. Before this, his films were strictly in the horror genre, having made his debut with 2016's Lights Out, followed by Annabelle: Creation in 2017. As such, he seemed like a strange choice for DC Entertainment's family-friendly superhero offering. Yet, Shazam is tremendously joyous and goofy, while still delivering some solid scary scenes, when appropriate.

With Man of Steel in 2016, the new direction taken by DC Entertainment and WB Films proved to be a divisive one. Whether you enjoyed the early offerings of the DC Extended Universe or not, there is no denying that they weren't exactly kid-friendly. From the first teaser of this film, however, it became abundantly clear that the makers were aiming to do something different with Shazam. It is a sweet family movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. While the film has scenes that make the viewers laugh, it also offers some genuine emotional moments.  Although it gets a bit over the top and cheesy at times, for all its silliness, Shazam is a crowd-pleasing film that does well with its grounded premise, that of a troubled foster kid finally finding a place to belong.

Some fans might be understandably concerned that the film would lose itself in its own absurdity and kid-friendliness. Thankfully, Shazam strikes a good balance in that it is funny and light-hearted, but it also conveys a strong message about brotherhood, friendship and acceptance.

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