Shazam! (12A)

14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has been running from foster home to foster home for years, unable to accept love and be part of a family.

Then something out of this world happens and Billy finally has the chance to get everything he’s ever wanted. He just needs to not screw it up.

Billy has been by himself for so long that when he meets his new foster parents and siblings, he’s oblivious to how amazing they are. His constant search for his birth mother deflects any opportunity for the teen to get close to anyone.

Then one night on the subway Billy is magically transported to a mysterious cave where a wizard imparts on him the most wonderous superpowers. Simply say “Shazam” and Billy is transformed from a teenage boy into a muscular man who can fly and shoot lightning bolts from his hands.

Now Billy isn’t the first teen the wizard has summoned to pass on his gifts to, there have been several, but none were pure of heart and so not worthy of the powers. One such boy to not make the cut was Thaddeus Sivana. Now all grown up Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) has made it his life’s mission to make his way back to the illusive cave and defeat the wizard or whoever possesses his powers and eliminate them.

Unaware of Dr. Sivana’s evil plot Shazam (Zachary Levi) revels in the adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them. With the help of his foster brother come friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Shazam tests out his new-found abilities. But the reckless fun is forced to stop when Dr. Sivana releases the seven deadly sins in monster.

Billy realises he had a home all along with his new foster family and that he finally has something worth fighting for. It turns out turning into a superhero wasn’t the only transformation Billy has experienced recently. He leaves his selfish, cowardly ways behind and fights for what matters to him, the family he’s made for himself.

Cue a training montage and plenty of hilarity before the inevitable gruesome fight scene. Will good win over evil? Can Billy make up for his past? There’s only one way to find out.

David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! was always going to be a riot, the trailers told us as much. The humour in the movie is pitch perfect with glimpses of ‘Big’ shining through at times. The inhabitants of the foster home are the real stars of the show. The con unfortunately is Mark Strong. His performance is a bit flat which isn’t helped by his poor-quality CGI companions.

Shazam! is a joy from start to finish. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but still manages to have a strong message engrained throughout. I love the Tom Hanks classic ‘Big’ so much and there were so many nods to it. Think ‘Big’ meets ‘Deadpool’ with less bad language but the same number of laughs.

By Ruth Walker

★★★☆☆

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