Shazam! 3D (12A)



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Action (2019)
132mins US

Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Zachary Levi
Director: David F Sandberg
Writer(s): Henry Gayden
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Billy Batson is placed into care as a young boy. He is relocated to the loving home of Victor and Rosa Vasquez, who already have five children under their roof. Billy closes his heart to the Vasquez clan but he is compelled to intervene when Freddy is attacked by bullies outside the school gates. This uncharacteristic act of selflessness leads Billy to the lair of an ancient wizard called Shazam, who is searching for a human champion to inherit his powers.

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LondonNet Film Review
Shazam! (12A)

Since Marvel Comics launched its ever-expanding cinematic universe with the muscular blockbuster Iron Man, rival DC Comics has largely played catch-up. Were it not for Christopher Nolan's Oscar-winning Dark Knight trilogy and Gal Gadot's gravity-defying acrobatics as Wonder Woman, a stable of superheroes including Superman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg could have flatlined past the point of reinvention...

Shazam!. Copyright: 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Caption: Zachary Levi as Shazam and Mark Strong as Dr Thaddeus Sivana in Shazam!, directed by David F. Sandberg. Photo: Steve Wilkie. All Rights Reserved.David F Sandberg's hugely entertaining romp marks a welcome shift in tone for the DC Comics brand, swaggering away from dark, brooding seriousness into the irreverent territory of Deadpool, albeit with family-friendly humour and a nostalgia for body swap fantasies including Big. Scripted with tongue wedged in cheek by Henry Gayden, Shazam! plays to the strength of leading man Zachary Levi, who channels the naivete and nervous energy of a 14-year-old boy trapped inside the hulking frame of a spandex-clad saviour of the universe who initially goes by the moniker Captain Sparklefingers. There are plenty of in-jokes for comic book aficionados and a crowd-pleasing reveal towards the end, plus two additional scenes fashionably concealed during end credits that tease future instalments.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is placed into care as a young boy after he becomes separated from his mother in crowds at a state fair. The teenager is resolved to reunite with his birth parent and steadfastly rejects the love of foster guardians in six counties, adamant that "families are for people who can't take care of themselves". After his latest brush with the law, Billy is relocated to the loving home of Victor and Rosa Vasquez (Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans), who already have five children under their roof: Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mary (Grace Fulton), Pedro (Jovan Armand), Eugene (Ian Chen) and Darla (Faithe Herman). Billy closes his heart to the Vasquez clan but he is compelled to intervene when Freddy is attacked by bullies outside the school gates. This uncharacteristic act of selflessness leads Billy to the lair of an ancient wizard called Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), who is searching for a human champion to inherit his powers. "Lay your hands on my staff," instructs Shazam. The lad complies with the innuendo-laden request and transforms into a musclebound hunk (Levi), whose abilities could prove decisive in mankind's battle with power-crazed archvillain Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

Shazam! is engineered to delight in broad strokes, poking fun at conventions of comic book origin stories without sacrificing emotional connections to the tormented characters. Laughs are plentiful and digital effects-heavy action sequences retain a light touch even when multiple lives hang in the balance. Some choice language and one memorable scene of a demonic creature biting a male victim's head necessitate a 12A certificate. Strong's nemesis is emotionally underpowered when it matters but his antagonist's childhood-driven menace contrasts pleasingly with Levi's goofy, boyish charm.

- Kim Hu

Shazam!. Copyright: 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Caption: Zachary Levi as Shazam and Mark Strong as Dr Thaddeus Sivana in Shazam!, directed by David F. Sandberg. Photo: Steve Wilkie. All Rights Reserved.


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