Is ‘Shazam!’ the magic word for the DC cinematic universe?

It’s been all doom and gloom in the DC cinematic universe so far, so an injection of fun and humour could be just what the doctor ordered.

Despite making hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, both Justice League (2017) and Suicide Squad (2016) were largely criticised by cinemagoers, lambasted for being dark, unimaginative and dull, culminating in low Rotten Tomatoes scores.

It seems DC has struggled to bring its much-loved characters successfully to the big screen since director Christopher Nolan hung up the cape and cowl on his Batman movie trilogy in 2012.

So, how does the enigmatic publishing house turn its fortunes around while its decades-long rival Marvel produces hit after hit on the silver screen? One word: Shazam!

While you might not know much about the titular character, who is also known (ironically)
as Captain Marvel in the comic books, the seventh instalment in the DC cinematic universe seems to be something of a wildcard.

Forget brooding heroes fighting off an impending apocalypse. This film is bringing some childhood fun into the mix.

Early reviews have suggested the fantasy flick falls somewhere in between Superman and  Big. It’s a coming-of-age story intertwined with all the bulging muscles, catchphrases and action we associate with superheroes.

Released in UAE cinemas on Thursday (4th April), the film follows 14-year-old foster child Billy Batson who gains the ability to transform into a superhero with incredible powers upon uttering the word… you guessed it: “Shazam!”

While the teenager comes to terms with his astonishing ability to transform and the implications of possessing so much power, his abilities are put to the test as he finds himself the only person who can stop Dr Thaddeus Sivana from harming the human race.

After the critical backlash from Justice League, the pressure was on for director David F Sandberg to offer a glimmer of hope and change the narrative surrounding DC films.

“It’s very different from Justice League. It’s still the same universe, but just has a very different tone,” Sandberg explained in a recent interview with screenrant.com.

“It takes place in this DC world where all these heroes exist; it’s both sort of self-contained, while also being a part of something bigger.”

Aware of the reputation DC films have for being dark and gloomy, Sandberg is excited
about the change of tone that Shazam! will bring to the table.

“It’s a fun movie. It’s not like a pure comedy, because you still have some pretty dark subjects and some pretty scary monsters. But I like to compare it to ‘80s movies, like The Goonies, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future.

“It’s a family kind of [movie]. It’s not dark and gritty.”

SOLD. Get us to the cineplex.

Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong and Meagan Good. Rating: PG15

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