Just so you can gauge the level of camp menace, he stomps into the children’s foster home and declares it ‘a shithole’.Abandoned by his mother and forced to live in a nauseatingly happy foster home in Philadelphia, Billy is unexpectedly transported to a wizard’s lair. Tired of looking for someone pure of heart to be his champion on earth, the wizard decides Billy will do just fine. A good chunk of the film is given over to Billy’s joyous discovery of his newfound powers and ultra-buff man body; it’s great fun, especially for film and comic nerds able to spot the references to titles as diverse as Batman and Big. Our guide in all this is Freddy, Billy’s disabled foster brother, a comic nerd played with bags of charisma by Jack Dylan Grazer. Mark Strong is excellent – as usual – as villain Sivana, a rejected champion who struts around with the seven deadly sins manifested as gargoyles. Just so you can gauge the level of camp menace, he stomps into the children’s foster home and declares it ‘a shithole’. The obligatory final fight sequence is overlong and a little tedious but the rest feels refreshingly straightforward, unburdened with superhero lore and the weight of expectation. Most importantly, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all.
Like a teen-friendly Deadpool, Shazam!’s tongue is firmly in cheek, but its heart is in the right place.