Cert 12A 131mins Stars 4
Magic and monsters cause mayhem in this terrific crowd pleasing superhero romp which doubles as a body swap comedy.
This confident seventh instalment in the increasingly lighthearted, bright and colourful, DC Extended Universe, takes place in same world as the recent billion dollar success, Aquaman, but don’t hold their breath waiting for the king of Atlantis to turn up.
Billy is a teenage orphan who while searching for his mother, finds himself endowed with extraordinary powers and unlooked-for responsibility.
Following an encounter with a wizard, whenever Billy says the magic word, ‘Shazam’, he’s magically transformed into an adult superhero, with strength, speed and the ability to shoot electric bolts from his fingertips.
Asher Angel is fresh faced and likeable as 14 year old Billy, with an exuberantly gleeful and goofy Zachary Levi, as his super-powered alter-ego.
The script owes a lot to Tom Hanks’ 1988 comedy, Big, and pays homage to it during a fight in a department store, while the films energy has the wide-eyed excitable tone of 1980’s kid caper, The Goonies.
As Billy learns to control his powers, the warm family dynamic of his diverse foster family provides a strong emotional grounding to the fantasy elements.
It’s here we meet Faithe Herman as Billy’s foster sister Darla, a delightful pocket-sized scene-stealing charmer.
Packed with jokes, this is funnier than Deadpool and has more laughs than Kick Ass, plus it’s also much kinder and far more appropriate for a family audience.
Brit actor Mark Strong played the bad guy in Kick Ass, and appears here as a super-villain who’s hunting Shazam to steal his powers, and is involved in all the flashy CGI action such as magic realms, scary demons, and mid-air fights.
Yet Shazam!’s greatest strength is knowing superheroes were created as a wish fulfilment fantasy for lonely adolescents, and is all the more enjoyable when putting them centre stage.