SHAZAM! Review — The New Superhero in Town Lightens Up the DC Universe

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Shazam! review — How can you resist Zachary Levi as an overgrown kid with super powers in a flashy red bodysuit?

Shazam! ReviewBoom! Pow! Blam! The new superhero in town bursts on screen in a blaze of adolescent energy and excitement, and suddenly the DC Universe is not so dark and brooding anymore. At last we have a character filled with mirth rather than mourning.

After experiencing the grim but artistic Batman and Superman franchises and even a decent helping of darkness in Wonder Woman, the dazzling Aquaman was a step (or stroke?) toward the light. But Shazam! hurls us straight into the land of laughter and fun—it’s such a welcome relief!

It’s an origin story that amuses, rather than abuses. Sure, the protagonist is a rule-breaking foster child, but as we watch a 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) search for his long lost mother and find super powers, and perhaps a new family, instead, we’re tickled, rather than tormented.

Yes, there are the familiar themes of nerds and bullies right alongside evil villains with their own megalomaniacal intentions. Yes, we’ve seen it all before, but not with Zachary Levi (TV’s Chuck) playing a kid in an adult superhero body who’s exploring his explosive new abilities.

After an inadvertent visit to a magical castle/cave, he gains the ability to go through instant puberty with all action, no angst, simply by shouting the name of a powerful wizard, which is (say it with me) “Shazam!”

If your tendency is, as mine was, to check out the superhero’s print history before you go see a film about him or her, I caution you against it this time. Since Shazam and Captain Marvel share a very confusing past, it will only make your head spin.

Just go with what you see on the screen and enjoy. I brought a 14-year-old friend with me to the critics’ screening, and was happy to see him laughing loudly, clearly as delighted as I was. There’s something for everyone here, male, female, young, old and everything in between. It’s a very welcome diversion.

If this Shazam! review makes you want to dash out to see it, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Rated PG-13

2 Hours 10 Minutes

Shazam! review — How can you resist Zachary Levi as an overgrown kid with super powers in a flashy red bodysuit?

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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