Shazam! - This DC Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: David F. Sandberg
Starring Zachery Levi, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, John Glover
In which the DC universe gets – shock! – a sense of humour!! Wow, what a move. To be fair, there is a certain amount of charm to Shazam! (their exclamation point), but it’s spread rather thinly, and with a running time of two hours plus, it does not sustain itself.
Following an unexpectedly dark opening sequence set in 1974 (there to set up Mark Strong’s bad guy for later on) we are into the world of young Billy Batson (Angel), a foster kid always on the move from one home to another, always on the hunt for his real mother, he got separated from. Then, on a fateful subway ride, he meets a wizard (yes, Harry Potter gets namechecked), touches his staff (ooh er missus!), says his name (“Say my name, bitch!” – they missed that one!) and Shazam! – he’s Shazam, which basically means he’s a man-boy in a man’s body. Think Tom Hanks in Big but with a fraction of the charm and you’re pretty much there. Add in some low rent cosies and an eventual climax that sees people floating around a lot, and you’re pretty much the whole way there. Whoops, almost forgot – chuck in a whole lot of sentiment about the nature of family, complete with what is very deliberately designed to be an almost painfully on the nose diverse family group – and Shazam! You have Shazam!
The fundamental problem with this latest excursion into the DC world is that it’s ridiculously convoluted. There’s a reason it clocks in at 132 minutes – it needs about a hundred of those to explain itself. Origin stories, of which this is very definitely one given that Shazam is not riding high on anyone’s superhero radar (even if he was, somewhat ironically given the current global box office, once known as Captain Marvel), need to be simple. But this is so long winded, and stops on so many occasions to explain itself, it makes “I was bitten by a radioactive spider and now I can do “spider-stuff” look achingly simplistic.
This will probably appeal to more people than the turgid Batman Vs Superman and the even turgid-er Justice League, but in terms of the DC cinematic universe, it’s another failure.
Now, where did they put that Endgame?
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