FILM REVIEW: Shazam! Fury of the Gods
As the DC Extended Universe (EU) winds down to make way for James Gunn’s rebooted DCU, the sequel to one of the studio’s most enjoyable films is churned out without much fanfare. Shazam! Fury of the Gods takes place a few years after the original as Billy Batson and his foster-siblings have settled into their roles as protectors of Philadelphia, exclaiming the word 'shazam' to transform from children into adult superheroes. But when the daughters of Atlas come to the mortal world looking to reclaim the powers bestowed upon the children, this is a challenge Billy and his family will have to face together.
Like the first film, Shazam! Fury of the Gods has a great sense of humour about its premise. Zachary Levi retains his trademark goofiness and completely sells the idea of being a child in the body of a superhero. Joining him this time is the 'Shazam fam' - a rushed aspect of the first film but an enjoyable part of this sequel, particularly Meagan Good who commits as much as Levi in the role of the grown-up form of the youngest sibling. The film also provides the grand, epic gods-versus-heroes battles that you expect from this genre while acknowledging the silliness of the situations, particularly in the climax which is unreservedly insane.
Asher Angel gets considerably less screen time in this sequel as Billy in his young form, resulting in the loss of the child-becoming-a-superhero detail that made its predecessor work so well, as well as the emotional subplot of Billy searching for his mother. Instead, Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman serves as the heart and soul of Shazam! 2, his romantic subplot being the only emotional pull to speak of.
Beyond that, this is pretty much your standard superhero romp, from its stock title to its bloated, overlong, CGI-filled finale that loses the film some points, to its generic villains. Helen Mirren takes a bland role on paper and delivers a surprisingly threatening performance, while Lucy Liu plays the role as written and looks bored throughout.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods in no way challenges the superhero formula and hits all the expected beats, seemingly on autopilot as this universe is soon to be rebooted, which is a shame given the relative uniqueness of the first film. But there is enough charm and humour from its cast to make this sequel a fun enough time, even if it does overstay its welcome.