A foster kid is granted a superhero’s powers.
Levi and Grazer: Brothers at heart
Finally, the battle between DC Films and Marvel “feels like a fair fight,” said Scott Mendelson in Forbes.com. The big-screen debut of Shazam, a superhero long locked into Saturday-morning schlock, gives DC “a marvelous adventure fantasy” that’s “an achingly real family melodrama first and a comic-book flick second.” Any movie fan should enjoy it. Asher Angel plays Billy Batson, a 14-year-old foster kid who unwittingly proves himself superhero material after defending Freddy, his disabled new foster brother, from bullies. A wizard soon grants him the ability to transform, with one magic word, into Shazam, a muscular full-grown do-gooder played by a “perfectly cast” Zachary Levi. Levi displays an “infectiously naïve, gee-whiz charisma that calls to mind Tom Hanks in Big,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Alas, the charming scenes in which Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy urges Shazam to test his new powers are followed by typical superhero nonsense, including a “cardboard villain” and “a menagerie of CGI monsters.” The monsters can’t hide the film’s great strength, said Alex Abad-Santos in Vox.com. Shazam is fluent in a yearning all young people have, a yearning to find people like themselves before they can learn to truly care about others. ■