Shazam! | Chicago Reader
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Shazam!

Comic book buffs know that the DC superhero Shazam was originally named Captain Marvel when he was a mid-20th century top-selling brand for Fawcett Publications, which was forced to retire the character in 1954 after a lengthy copyright infringement case based on charges of plagiarizing Superman. The history helps explain part of the retro appeal of this wide-screen adaptation about a geeky foster teen, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who assumes the alter ego and superpowers of a thirtyish hunk in red-hot tights (Zachary Levi), thanks to a powerful wizard (Djimon Hounsou). Like the early Superman, Shazam harks back to a more innocent timeā€”the gleeful sense of wonder Levi brings to the character is endearingly goofy, as though daring rescues and crime prevention were the headiest thrills imaginable. The movie generally avoids showing graphic deaths, except in a jarring boardroom sequence where the villainous Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (a curiously wooden Mark Strong) takes ghoulish revenge on his hated brother, father, and their corporate cronies (although even this might be considered mild, given the extreme violence of video games). Adults might appreciate the nostalgic carnival atmosphere; children are more likely to identify with Angel and the other irrepressible foster family youngsters, led by the impish Jack Dylan Grazer. It's an interesting departure for Swedish horror director David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out), who proves he has more tricks up his sleeve than just things that go bump in the night.

Credits

Director:

  • David F. Sandberg

Cast:

  • Zachary Levi
  • Mark Strong
  • Asher Angel
  • Jack Dylan Grazer
  • Djimon Hounsou
  • Faithe Herman
  • Grace Fulton
  • Ian Chen
  • Jovan Armand
  • Marta Milans
  • Cooper Andrews
  • Ron Cephas Jones

Writers:

  • Adam Sztykiel
  • Bill Parker
  • C.C. Beck
  • Henry Gayden

Producers:

  • Christopher Godsick
  • Dany Garcia
  • David Witz
  • Dwayne Johnson
  • F.J. DeSanto
  • Hiram Garcia
  • Jeffrey Chernov
  • Michael Ewing
  • Michael Uslan
  • Peter Safran
  • Toby Emmerich
  • Walter Hamada

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