There was a time when most of the movies based on DC Comics were dark and broody, but Shazam! managed to make a superhero movie that was light-hearted fun, and uplifting. Coming off of horror films, David F. Sandberg was able to pull off a DC film that was full of color and adventure that was all thanks to these lovable characters and their family dynamic. Its sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods also pulls off the magic of what made the first film entertaining by using the same formula as well as creating some emotional stakes for our main heroes. With the future of the DC films on the precipice, Shazam! Fury of the Gods doesn’t rely on its ties to the DCEU and does stand on its own two feet to create some high energy with its ensemble of fantastic characters that the audience can root for.
Taking place a few years after the first film, Shazam! Fury of the Gods follows Barry Batson (Asher Angel/Zachary Levi) as he grows into a superhero alongside his foster siblings Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody), Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman/Meagan Good), Pedro Pena (Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen/Ross Butler), and Mary Bromfield (Grace Currey). They all try to become a team protecting their town, but still are struggling to be one. Despite their best efforts in saving countless lives, they still haven’t found approval from the public as true heroes and are labeled as menaces to society. They are soon put to the test when they are faced with a new threat in the form of the daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) as these goddesses are attempting to regain the magic that was stolen from them by the wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who has been imprisoned. Once the goddesses make their way to Earth to wage a war on humans, it is up to the Shazam family to put a stop to them once and for all.
In this new film, we are introduced to some new villains led by the legendary Helen Mirren, who each have some fun screen time with the regular cast. There’s a huge roster of characters that Sandberg is playing with, but somehow he manages to find that balance so none of them are lost in the shuffle. Mirren plays off as a leader who does get to deliver some action-packed and fun-filled moments with both Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Glazer). Lucy Liu does struggle with the first half of the film, but it’s the last act that puts her on top as she becomes more dominant with her character’s development as she rides off on a dragon across the city. Rachel Zegler happens to be in the center of this feud as her character is stuck between compassion for humans and doing what’s best for her kind. She shows that struggle in her scenes with Jack as they form a sweet and innocent relationship.
The heart of the film lies with the Shazam family, who each have some tender moments that pull off some strong emotions on the screen. It is nice to see that balance of innocence and heroism with characters like Darla, Pedro, Grace, and Eugene. It makes for some funny moments with these characters as they go out on their own to help Barry grow as a hero and individual. The comedy is even more coherent the second time around thanks to these characters. Even Djimon Hounsou’s Wizard cracks some funny lines in all his seriousness to rectify the mistakes he’s made when choosing a worthy champion to inherit the power of the gods.
Zachary Levi fully commits to embracing his inner child to emulate the thoughts of 17-year-old Barry Batson and does it so well just like in the first film. We see how much Zachary and Asher have grown with this character since the first one and learn who Barry is as a person after gaining these powers and what it truly means to be a hero. Despite finding a family of his own, we see how much Barry is willing to protect them and not lose the bond he shares with them. Jack Dylan Glazer also shines with his hilarious and heart-warming character of Freddy Freeman. His character has also had a good arc as he finds his inner hero as well and faces his fears after meeting with Anthea. Sandberg manages to find some great scenes with Freddy and the rest of the characters to create some funny moments and some strong scenes with the wizard and Anthea.
The first film dealt with smaller stakes and it felt more grounded, which was so unique about it. With Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the visual effects are greatly used in these big action sequences, making this film on par with a lot of superhero films. Lots of CGI has been used for the creatures in the film, which is a lot more prominent than what audiences got to see in the original. However, it is the third act that kind of falls short with the VFX department when so much is happening on screen. It does help that Shazam is still learning to be an effective superhero and trying to lead his family into a team, so the straightforward action does work in its favor to show what kind of a film Shazam! Fury of the Gods truly is.
With a lot going for it, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a great sequel that expands on the DC lore in an entertaining fashion. Sandberg continues to impress in creating a superhero story that brings out the child in every one of these characters while also maturing them into the world. Despite some shoddy visuals and a few flaws, the sequel is worthy enough to bring some fun to audiences of any age. It won’t stand out among the pack of other superhero movies, but it does pack a punch and leave everyone bursting with laughter and smiles all around. If anyone can look past what the future has in store for Shazam, this movie has a lot of heart going for it.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods releases in theaters everywhere on March 17th.