Shazam! Fury of the Gods: Trite but entertaining sequel that reinforces the meaning of family
The fun superhero film becomes a bit corny as the gang goes up against a trio of gods in order to keep their powers
Having discovered that he can transform himself into a superhero in the first film, teenager Billy Batson aka Shazam now has the backing of his foster family by his side as they 'protect' the city they live in. Having been dubbed the Philadelphia Fiascoes, the Shazam family has to fight a trio of angry sisters, the daughters of Atlas, who believe themselves to be the true gods.
It turns out that a mistake by Billy (Asher Angel) allows Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) to enter the human realm to seek back their powers and restore their own barren one. The battle between the Greek gods and the young, earnest superheroes takes up much of the film as they go back and forth trying to get the upper hand.
The misfit trio of sisters have a noticeable age difference, along with different viewpoints on how they want the power to restore their world. They dislike humans getting powers that originally belonged to the gods. Meanwhile, Billy aka Shazam (Zachary Levi) goes through a bit of an imposter syndrome in the second film, as most of the time, he feels like a child pretending to be a leader. He often consults his foster siblings on decisions and feels hurt when they go off to do things on their own.
Much like the Fast and the Furious films, Shazam Fury of the Gods also has the 'all or none' sentimentality of family. The gang is often there for one another as they lose their superhero powers at different stages of the battle. But the action between the sisters and fosters takes an awfully long time to get established and the city of brotherly love is worse for wear by the time the film is done.
It is quite neat to see a 77-year-old Helen Mirren get into warrior mode, but the actual storyline by writers Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan is not that interesting. There are several wisecracking lines which are admittedly juvenile, mostly delivered by Levi's Shazam.
The film makes a smart move in giving Jack Dylan Grazer's Freddy a larger role in the sequel. Even from the first film, his character had the right balance of heart and vulnerability which the young actor delivers.
The rest of the film falls into a bit of the cheesy, corny territory, much of it due to Levi's performance, as Shazam's family tries to save Philadelphia from Kalypso's path of destruction. The rest of the cast just seem to be reacting to the wild circumstances happening around them. Honestly, Mirren and Djimon Hounsou as the wise wizard deserved better.
Director David F Sandberg also has to deal with the movie's initial novelty of the superpowers wearing off, and keeping us engaged in another manner. The VFX is much improved from the 2019 film, which was quite banal to be honest. However, there is a definite hangover from the Harry Potter franchise which creeps into several sequences, especially the one involving Ladon the dragon.
While Shazam Fury of the Gods' 130 minutes running time keeps you busy, it is still unclear what direction this franchise is headed in. We've already seen the empty promises regarding tie-ups with other DC franchises and superheroes. Remember the Justice League?
So, I'm not sure from hints from the end credits scene with a special cameo and the finale, will we ever see the Shazam gang showing up to fight crime in other films? If you enjoyed the first film, you might be entertained by the sequel as well. I was expecting this film to be much more impactful than it, but it's an entertaining diversion if you need to pass the time.