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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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It takes a bit of magic to bring out the superhero that is inside. In 14 year old streetwise foster kid Billy Batson's case, he just shouts out one word: Shazam, which turns him into the grown-up superhero Shazam.

Review by Louise Keller:
This may sound like a strange analogy, but Shazam! is a bit like a salad. It's crisp and light with enough colours and differently textured ingredients to keep our appetite satisfied. Fresh and fabulous, this blast of a superhero adventure ticks all the boxes. It is funny, cool and the narrative flies on the wings of a good script and excellent direction. The magic comes from a combo of its joyous take on the superhero tale and Zachary Levi's winning performance. Wearing a ridiculous red spandex costume with gold belt and shoes, white cape, concrete hair and a goofy 'look at me; I'm a superhero' expression on his handsome features, Levi delivers an irresistible mix of incredulity and authenticity as the superhero whose inner self is the 14 year old protagonist. But there is more. There is Mark Strong as the villainous Dr Thaddeus Sivana, whose backstory is recounted in the stunning opening sequence.

The film has everything you expect and more - from its overload of humour to its special effects, action and production values. If you think all superhero films are all the same, don't miss this one. It's a shot in the arm.

From the outset, all the ingredients of the tale are established, including the introduction of Djimon Hounsou's wizard who is seeking a worthy soul who is pure of heart and strong of spirit. Life size statues of the seven deadly sins create a formidable presence. Father son relationships, belonging and the importance of home are the film's themes.

When we first meet street-wise teenager Billy Batson (the memorably named Asher Angel), he is being placed into yet another foster home. This group foster home has points of difference, from the environment to the members of the blended family. One of Billy's new siblings is Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), the disabled orphan, desperate to be noticed. It the relationship between Freddy and Billy that allows Billy's transformation into his superhero self to be enjoyed as an in-joke with the audience.

Queen's Don't Stop Me Now gets our toes tapping in the fabulously funny sequence when Billy's superhero Shazam tries to discover his super powers. These are some of the film's most hilarious moments. What superhero complains he can't pee in his superhero outfit?

While the plot is by the numbers, there are many surprises and moments to savour. I would not dream of spoiling them; they are best discovered when watching the film. The terrific climactic sequence and resolution is a case in point. Upbeat and filled with pace, the film's running time simply flies - we are having such a good time.

Shazam is the buzz.

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SHAZAM! (M15+)
(US, 2019)

CAST: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou

PRODUCER: Peter Safran

DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg

SCRIPT: Henry Gayden


EDITOR: Michel Aller

MUSIC: Benjamin Wallfisch


RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow / Warner Brothers


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