Take a sprinkling of the kid-in-an-adult’s-body plot from Big, a dash of origin story like Spider-Man: Homecoming’s and mix it with splashes of wit and superhero action and you have Shazam!, a terrifically fun family comic book movie.
Aimed at all but the youngest of viewers (the monsters and baddie Sivana may be too much for them – see notes below), Shazam introduces us to a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who guards the seven deadly sins (currently frozen as stone statues) to keep the world safe. He is looking for a protégé to take over and eventually finds 14-year-old Billy Batson (Angel), a foster kid who has just been placed in a new home after running away to try and find his mother.
Billy discovers that if he says the word ‘shazam’ he turns into a thirtysomething superhero (Levi, just perfect as a teen trapped in a big boy’s body) and with the help of housemate Freddy (Grazer) learns that his powers include strength, lightning bolts from his hands and speed. Unfortunately there is an evil mastermind named Sivana (Strong) who is not only interested in this new red-suited superhero, but has those formerly granite demons (now flying CGI ones) along for the ride. And, be warned, they eat people they don’t like.
A movie that is just as much about family – not necessarily the one you are born with – as it is about super powers and vanquishing bad guys, this is also a sharp comedy about every kid’s wish to be a superhero (especially those who are being bullied). There’s humour throughout, including some squarely aimed at kids Billy’s age that will make adults snigger, too.
Young actors Grazer and Angel – one playing a superhero fan, the other a reluctant superhero – make a dynamic duo, and Grazer is also a snarky match for Levi’s comic talents in the scenes that they share.
Strong, as you’d expect, is a deliciously nasty bad guy, with an interesting back story that adds to the family theme of the plot, and there is charming support from Grace Fulton and Faithe Herman as two of the sparkier members of Billy’s new foster family.
A fun, fast-paced movie for everyone – don’t miss it.
Is Shazam! suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a comic book movie aimed at older kids and adults and may not be suitable for the under-10s.
The deadly sins that are summoned do look like monsters and are seen to kill/swallow victims. They are quite scary for younger children.
Mark Strong’s character Sivana is quite threatening and intense.
There are some fight scenes, and scenes involving teenage bullies that may upset sensitive viewers.
Spoiler alert: both Billy and Sivana are rejected by a parent in scenes (especially Billy’s) that may upset sensitive children.
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