Shazam-bam, thank you, ma’am

Shazam

Starring Asher Angel, Zachary Levi and Mark Strong

Rated M

Shazam is an endearing superhero comedy full of heart and pathos.

After receiving superpowers from an ancient wizard, troubled high-school student Billy Batson (Asher Angel) becomes the mighty but naïve Shazam (Zachary Levi), and must defeat the supervillain Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who seeks to steal his powers.

Shazam is a vibrant, well-paced adventure with outstanding character development.

Angel is a plucky but emotionally reserved lead, while Levi is hilariously convincing as an overeager child in an adult hero’s body. Shazam’s power tests and public demonstrations are delightfully silly, but resonate deeply in Billy’s character growth.

The film’s plot superbly manages internal and external conflict, weaving together Billy’s personal hardships with his new superhero identity. Billy’s cynicism and abandonment issues, as a foster kid abandoned by his mother, cause him to overcompensate with vain, showy antics as Shazam, but as he comes to terms with his sad past, Billy learns the importance of family and steps up as a true hero, finally justifying his powers.

Sivana, played with stolid gravitas by Strong, functions as a dark reflection of Billy, having been twisted into villainy by childhood emotional abuse.

Following Wonder Woman and Aquaman, Shazam is another strong entry in DC Films’ more upbeat, colourful “course correction”, after the hollow gloom of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.

Shazam is a fun and engaging romp with compelling character writing and plenty of bright cinematography and natural humour.

– Seth Lukas Hynes

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