Mandatory Movie Battle: ‘Shazam’ vs. ‘Kazaam’
Photo: Warner Brothers and Touchstone Pictures
For this week’s movie battle, we had to pit two heavyweights against one another. We have Zachary Levi’s Shazam versus the almost completely forgotten NBA-All-Star-turned-genie Shaq in 1996’s Kazaam. How do these two films stand next to one another?
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So this one isn't really much of a contest. Yeah, it's cool to grant wishes, but Kazaam's abilities to do that are even limited because he can only grant wishes of material objects. Shazam has the lightning from his hands, the teleportation, super speed, and is bulletproof. No chance of going with Kazaam here.
This is the biggest advantage for Kazaam, because of NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal. No disrespect to Zachary Levi, who does a pretty good job as a child superhero in an adult's body (it's complicated), but Shaq's charisma is unparalleled and it makes you wonder why he didn't actually make it as an actor.
There's literally nothing humor-wise in Kazaam that still holds up, and makes you wonder if it ever did. Shazam is full of little funny gags, and the regular kid-in-an-adult-body explorations of society. Shazam wins by miles.
The child performance in Kazaam simply doesn't land. Perhaps it did for the first few years of release, but looking back at the kid who befriends Kazaam in the movie, it's hard to understand how it could ever have worked. Most of Shazam's sidekicks are members of a diverse foster family, and are all pretty fleshed out. It's not perfect but it almost wins by disqualification.
This Mandatory Movie Battle was a blood bath. Kazaam put up a fight for a minute with Shaq's star power, but as a movie, it's barely even in the conversation. Perhaps that answers the question of why Shaq didn't do much acting after. Shazam isn't perfect, but it's a fresh take on an increasingly stale superhero genre, and its humor seems to hit the right note.
Oh, ouch. That wasn’t much of a fight. Kazaam brought its 6 percent “tomatometer” to a gunfight. We give Shaq credit for trying, and we for sure don’t blame him for the disaster, because he gave it his all, but luckily for him, he had way more success on the basketball court than he did at the movies.
Shazam is now playing in theaters everywhere.