“Shazam!” Is a sincere and humorous look into the pains of growing up, in the guise of a comic book/ superhero movie. The special effects are simplistic by today’s standards – however that goes with the style of the movie, an unabashed, comedic look at courage, the changes we face as teens and honor and loyalty, without an overload of bells and whistles. All the actors bring heart to their roles and the basic concept of the film is refreshingly creative.
David F. Sandberg, the director, is the writer/director of the ingenious horror film Lights Out, which began life as a short in 2016 before taking on a life of its own and becoming a feature with a cult following. He has great instincts for simple low budget films – he knows how to tap into emotions using the basic aspects of cinema.
The cast of “Shazam!” span many ethnicities. The only well-known actors in the film are Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) and Djimon Housou (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Blood Diamond”). The relatively unknown members of the cast do a wonderful job as an ensemble that clearly enjoyed working with one another. The adults in the movie are well portrayed, especially Levi as the grown-up hero, and Mark Strong as the complex yet sympathetic villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who is almost comically evil incarnate. Spanish actress Marta Milans as the foster Mom, and Cooper Andrews (“The Walking Dead”) as the foster Dad also stand out. The kids carry the movie – Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddie, is wonderful as the motor mouth target of the class bullies and sidekick of teen Billy, who is played with great sensitivity by Asher Angel.
The script is well written even if the narrative in places is a bit confusing. You will get to know the characters by the way they handle situations rather than through extensive dialogue. The theme covers foster children, foster parents, growing up, handling bullying and the fine line between following the rules versus taking chances. A surprise quick scene at the end of the movie suggests a continuation of the franchise.
If you’re a teen, “Shazam!” is the world seen from your eyes, with all the unabashed hope that superheroes provide. If you’re an adult, “Shazam!” will give you a window into how teens perceive you…and it isn’t always pretty, though within its plethora of angst, this view encompasses love and respect.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. [email protected]