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Film review: Shazam

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 April 2019

Shazam! sees a young boy gain the power to turn into a fully grown superhero Picture: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Steve Wilkie

Shazam! sees a young boy gain the power to turn into a fully grown superhero Picture: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Steve Wilkie

Archant

Has the latest DC Extended Universe offering impressed our film reviewer Mark Goodin?

With the exceptions of Suicide Quad and Wonder Woman the DC Extended Universe appears to have been stuck in a rut, frequently trying but failing to replicate the dark, gritty realism of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and has been in need of an injection of humour to counter-balance the blackness that surrounds its characters.

Following James Wan's fun but uneven Aquaman, the DCEU appears to have found the answer to their flaws with David F. Sandberg's bold and immensely enjoyable feature.

The film sees a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) bestow on 15-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) the power to turn into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) upon using the word 'shazam'. While testing his newfound powers, he soon attracts the attention of the villainous, demon-possessed Dr Thaddeus Sivana ( Mark Strong).

Sandberg and screenwriter Henry Gayden delight in capturing the visual gags and pratfalls Billy/Shazam endures as he tests his powers and quickly finds fame with his heroic deeds, while still retaining the darkness of the DC universe – both Billy and Sivana have tragic, albeit very different, family reunions.

The film's success ultimately lies in its two, or rather three, lead performances . Levi is terrific as the adult superhero, exuding the same child-like exuberance that made him such a joy in Chuck and Angel is equally impressive as Billy . It's Strong who stands out the most, though, imbuing his diabolical antagonist with a gravitas and menace that makes his character and the film such tremendous fun.

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