Shazam! (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In A Word: Fresh

Shazam

Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman and Zachary Levi as Shazam in Shazam!

 

"'Shazam!' brings a breath of fresh air to the genre with its teenage protagonist and young cast of foster kids. This provides a much younger perspective on what it means to have super powers, often with hilarious results."

In the battle for big screen superhero dominance, DC has struggled to find its footing. Initially known for a grim, gritty tone found in the Dark Knight trilogy, The Watchmen, Man of Steel and Suicide Squad, this latest film, Shazam!, makes a radical shift in style that embraces youthful wonder, slapstick humor and a heartwarming family drama.

Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel) is a rebellious 14-year-old foster child on a quest to find his long-lost mother. After running away and being arrested, he is adopted by the saint-like Vasquez family, who run a group home for five other foster children.

His new brothers and sisters include the adorably cute Darla (Faithe Herman), the shy Pedro (Jovan Armand), the responsible Mary (Grace Fulton), the nerdy Eugene (Ian Chen) and the playfully mischievous Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer). Billy’s struggle to accept the love that is offered to him at this home gives this story a strong emotional core with an ensemble that is fresh, funny and moving. 

When Billy steps up to defend his “brother” from bullies, he soon finds himself gifted with magical super powers that transform him into the heroic Shazam (Zachary Levi). Billy must now discover the full extent of his new powers and save his family while being hunted by the villainous Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) who is possessed by the spirits of the seven deadly sins.

The combat is on par with other superhero movies, though it sometimes strays into some overly violent moments considering the youthful appeal of the film. But it's the humour and heart of Shazam! that lifts it above the competition.

Shazam! brings a breath of fresh air to the genre with its teenage protagonist and young cast of foster kids. This provides a much younger perspective on what it means to have super powers, often with hilarious results. Exploring what a kid would do with a superhero body leads to some genuinely funny scenarios that involve buying beer, charging phones, making YouTube videos and, literally, playing with fire. The discovery of what a hero can do generates such childlike excitement that it is thrilling not just for Billy, but also for audiences to behold.

Amidst all the humour, action and drama, there is a strong message of charity and the importance of a loving home. The villain is fueled by the spirit of envy, and wants to take all the power of Shazam for himself. Billy begins to realise, with the help of his adopted family, that victory is found in sharing power with those you love and trust. It is with a truly open and generous heart that past hurts can be healed and real friendships, true family and a home can be found.