REVIEW: Shazam! is a funny film with charming performances

PUBLISHED: 15:44 30 April 2019

Shazam!

Shazam!

Archant

Based on the 1930s comic book of the same name, Shazam! stars Zachary Levi and tells the tale of 14-year-old foster child Billy Batson who is granted special powers by a mystical wizard.

Based on the 1930s comic book of the same name, Shazam! stars Zachary Levi and tells the tale of 14-year-old foster child Billy Batson who is granted special powers by a mystical wizard.

Officially part of Warner Bros DC Universe, the film is completely stand alone and has a much lighter tone to that of the franchise's previous instalments.

Horror director David F Sandberg, known for his films Lights Out and Annabelle, works from a script is by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke.

The story follows a young Batson played by Asher Angel, who, after being separated from his mother as a toddler, spends his time repeatedly running away from a string of foster homes. His life is suddenly and indelibly altered when a mysterious wizard (Djimon Hounsou) grants him the ability to transform into an adult superhero simply by uttering the name Shazam!

Zachary Levi, plays the adult version of Shazam! and is perfectly cast.

He brilliantly portrays the character's wide eyed wonder and maintains an endearing childlike innocence throughout.

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Jack Dylan Grazer plays Billy's foster brother Freddy and is superbly entertaining in the role. His witty quickfire delivery is a real highlight and the film is at its absolute best in the early stages when the bickering pair are experimenting with Billy's new found powers.

Asher's Angel also does well when he is on screen, but his sullen and moody version of Batson, seems strangely at odds with Levi's bubbly hero.

The film starts to lose some of its charm in the final third as the serious business of defeating super villain Doctor Silvana takes centre stage.

Mark Strong stars as Silvana and is in menacing form, but is not given much room to flex his acting muscles by a rather restrictive script.

Sandberg's horror roots are clear to see in the film's more scary moments, yet seem to contradict the overall child friendly tone of the film.

Despite these gripes, it is enormously fun to see a child inhabit an adult's body in style of the 1980s Tom Hanks comedy Big and fans of that film will notice a subtle homage during a particular toy shop scene.

It does drag somewhat in the final act, but Shazam! has a refreshing lightness compared to DC's usual grim and gritty output.

An undeniably funny film with charming performances, particularly from Levi and Grazer.

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