David F. Sandberg directs Asher Angel, Zachary Levi and Mark Strong in this DC superhero flick where a teenage boy can switch into a magical adult superhero’s body just by saying his name.
“Hands!… Lightning from my hands!… Lightning from my hands!” In an age of overblown Endgames and ridiculous Aquamans, it is nice to see a comic book adaptation happy to exist on its own smaller yet entertaining terms. For a lot of the running time Shazam! is an utter blast. Fuelled by an all-in comic performance by Zachary Levi, it is a film that has cribbed from Big and The Goonies as much as it has from Deadpool or Black Panther. It sets out to make a thrilling family comedy. Sure, the monster effects and design might be a little too scary for tots… but I’m not a toddler or a parent so check out those awesome scary monsters. A gloopy, visceral threat for our hero in training to overcome. I laughed out loud at the witty body swap awkwardness many times, I was transfixed when the kids were in danger from fantasy peril. I left the cinema giddy by the neat solution to the narrative and the rich mythology left to be explored again. It is not a perfect blockbuster, Asher Angel doesn’t match Zachary Levi’s personality so you never really feel like Shazam and Billy Batson are the same character. There are also some soapy middle act doings that slow down the hilarious montages of irresponsible power use and zippy action. But all in all this proves simple, effective big budget daftness hitting the same sweet spot as the first Ant-Man. Not life changing, nor universe shattering but all the sweeter for it.