New in Theaters: “Shazam!” and the “Pet Sematary” Remake

1.  Shazam!  (PG-13)

“Shazam!” is what would happen if a kid like the one from “Big” turned into a superpowered Zachary Levi instead of Tom Hanks.  But at least in this, he can transform back and forth between bodies just by repeating the magic word.

Some of you might remember that Zachary played the Asgardian warrior Fandral in two of the “Thor” movies.  But he was able to make the jump to DC because his character was killed off in “Thor: Ragnarok”.

That bothered him at first, but now he says it was a blessing because it freed him from his Marvel contract to become Shazam.

In this movie, he starts out as a kid named Billy Batson.  Once Billy becomes Shazam, he recruits his foster brother to have a little fun and help him figure out his new powers.

It’s directed by David Sandberg, whose horror credits include “Annabelle: Creation”, but it’s basically a coming of age comedy that’s refreshingly lighthearted compared to the rest of the movies in the DC Extended Universe.

Billy’s played by Asher Angel from the Disney series “Andi Mack”, and the foster brother is Jack Dylan Grazer, who you may remember as Eddie in the remake of Stephen King’s “It”.

The rest of the cast includes Djimon Hounsou as the wizard who chooses Billy to inherit his powers and Mark Strong as the guy trying to steal those powers for himself.

 

2.  Pet Sematary  (R)

Jason Clarke and John Lithgow star in this remake of the Stephen King horror classic about a hidden cemetery that can bring things back from the dead.

His daughter’s cat dies shortly after they move into their new home, so Jason’s character follows his neighbor out to a Native American burial ground where they resurrect an evil version of it.

Even though the cat is clearly NOT the same anymore, he still ignores Lithgow’s warnings and decides to use the cemetery again after one of his kids is killed.  Now, this part’s a bit of a spoiler, but I’m sure you caught it in the trailer . . .

In the book and the 1989 movie, it’s his son Gage who dies.  In the remake, it’s the daughter Ellie.

Stephen King is okay with that change though, and he thinks the remake is, quote, “[Effing] great.”

In a recent interview, he said, “I understand why they did it, because it’s maybe easier to work with a zombie when she’s a little girl, [rather] than a toddler.”   Some die-hard fans are upset about the change . . . but the critics seem to agree that this plot twist is part of what makes this version work even better than the original.

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