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DC’s “Shazam!” Isn’t Perfect, But is a Welcome Addition to the Pantheon of Superhero Flicks

Flobo Boyce, Guest Review

If there was one thing fans were feeling after the first two trailers of “Shazam” appeared, it was cautious optimism. Sure, the David F. Sandberg directed film looked entertaining enough, but the specters of past DC properties hung in the air. Though the film isn’t without its flaws, fans should be rest assured that “Shazam!” delivers.

The story takes place during the holiday season in Philadelphia where perennial foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is told he’s run away from one-too-many homes on a quest to find his birth mother and his next foster home, ran by a youthful couple (played by Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews) is essentially his last option. Reluctantly agreeing to the arrangement, Billy becomes a part of a very full house, complete with five other foster siblings.

Meanwhile, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) has toiled his entire life for the opportunity to receive the godlike powers from the Wizard Shazam! (Djimon Hounsou). When those powers and moniker are eventually transferred to Billy, an irate Sivana stops at nothing to hunt Billy down.

What follows is a goofy, but entertaining mix of comedy and action. When Billy says the word Shazam!, he turns into an adult-sized superhero (played by Zachary Levi). With super strength, speed, lighting bolt manipulation, and flight, Shazam! has powers that’ll even make Superman blush.

Where “Shazam!” excels is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. While there is a formidable threat in Sivana and what he wants to accomplish, the stakes in the film don’t seem unattainable high. In fact, wizardry aside, “Shazam!” is a relatively small movie. Billy coming to terms with his new found powers and bonding with his new family is just as important (if not more) than seeing the superhero noted in the comics as “The Big Red Cheese” on screen.

There are instances where the humor doesn’t quite work, and you could argue that the film itself runs at a hair too long (Current runtime is 132 minutes) but these aren’t dealbreakers, per se. What you get in exchange is an homage to the relatively “dark” family films of the 1970s and 1980s pre PG-13 era.

Shazam! is another victory for the DC Comics camp, further proving that “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” are not flukes.

8/10

Flobo Boyce is a Brooklyn-born, Los Angeles based comedian, host, and Mobile DJ. Learn more on his website Flobito.com

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