Dreary superhero CGI-fest for the very meek only

Published date17 March 2023
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Gotham City has long been a shadowy place, but the DC Extended Universe has never looked as gloomy as it does now. The chiselled Henry Cavill is no longer Superman. Wonder Woman 3 is officially cancelled. Planned sequels for Aquaman and Black Adam seem increasingly unlikely. Ezra Miller's Flash is in a spot of bother. Batgirl was canned after the movie was shot

Can the lighter-toned, kid-friendly Shazam! provide some relief for the underperforming sandbox?

Absolutely not.

One would be hard pressed to spot that David F Sandberg, the talented no-budget horror director formerly known as ponysmasher, had presided over this mishmash of slumming A-list actors, dreary world-building and eye-watering CGI.

The central conceit of Shazam! - a bunch of kids can transform into adults with gnarly superpowers - is referenced by a Goonies T-shirt and a short-lived puppy-love sequence but not by the main plot. Instead we are treated - if that's the right word - to a great deal of exposition: Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu are Atlas's avenging daughters, out to recover the apple of balderdash so they can rebuild their realm; elsewhere, Djimon Hounsou returns as a wizard to help fix the broken staff of...

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