Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"What’s missing is a plot."

What is it about supers? Better looking? Not always. Witty? Steady on!

Iron Man was played by Robert Downey Jr, which is a bit of a cheat because he can find jokes in a bag of sick. What is heroic about a bloke who has powers that far exceed his pay grade? There comes a moment in the genre-flinging game when you make the effort and ask difficult questions. The answers don’t come easy, if at all. In this world we call real, fantasy rules. Or wrecks.

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When they made Kick-Ass in 2010, critics and those who like skinless impossibles enjoyed the humour. Instead of overdosing on CGI and having an interplanetary storyline full of special affected violence they went the other way. The hero was a nobody who became super for no reason that made sense and it was all about how he managed to control the magic once he realised that normal was off the menu.

A kid called Billy Batson (Asher Angel) shouted “Shazam!” because he felt like it and suddenly everything changed. He grew older, became the spit of TV's Chuck (Zachary Levi), wearing a cool suit, created by a super designer and discovered he could do stuff like fly that took some learning.

In films you can do anything, or rather the actors can if they want, but in this one something is missing. You wait a little longer to see if it rights itself. It doesn’t.

What’s missing is a plot.

They have a baddie, Dr Thaddeus Sivana, played with relish by Mark Strong. You don’t understand what he’s about but it’s good having him around.

Shazam! Is made for superhero cult groupies. If you don’t know who they are, or refuse to join the all-encompassing do-right gangsters of change - be better brothers, super means step aside evil avengers, the world needs protection - you may get lost in the rush.

Levi is the one who wears the suit. You may remember him from the TV series Chuck. He’s tall and athletic with a well-defined sense of humour. As the grown version of Billy, he takes himself more seriously, which is the way supers like to present themselves. The point about Shaz is that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s all new. He has the look. He does the tricks. He has a name: Shaz-something or other

It’s a word. It’s a watching experience, a way of life you can switch off at any time.

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Reviewed on: 07 Apr 2019
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Shazam! packshot
Say the magic word and this teenager turns into a superhero.
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Director: David F Sandberg

Writer: Henry Gayden, Darren Lemke, Bill Parker, CC Beck

Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, Marta Milans, Grace Fulton, Stephannie Hawkins, Cooper Andrews, Lovina Yavari, Natalia Safran, John Glover, Caroline Palmer, Faithe Herman, Ian Chen

Year: 2019

Runtime: 132 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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