Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Shazam! was a pleasant surprise for fans back in 2019, when their DC universe was flailing following the negative-to-mixed reception to Batman vs Superman, Justice League and Aquaman. The superhero pic – which was essentially the Tom Hanks’ classic Big but with superpowers – offered respite from those gloomy titles, standing out for its big heart and humour. It’s no surprise that Shazam! Fury of the Gods is just as delightful as the first film, as it preserves the same charming qualities and upholds the poignant family themes.
Following the events of Shazam!, teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel and Zachary Levi) and his foster siblings have harnessed the power to transform into their heroic adult selves at will, albeit with the mental trappings of youth naivete. This is showcased in a sequence where they save folks from a collapsing bridge but not without some clumsiness. However, they now find themselves embedded deeper into the historical lore that characterises their powers when a trio of sisters named the Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler) descend into their orbit, seeking a deadly weapon with world-altering potential.
The villainy is as banal as it can be, which is a shame because the heavyweight trio of Mirren, Liu and Zegler deserve better than to wield fancy outfits and staffs, especially the former who has reinvented herself in recent years as an appealing action star with roles in Red and Fast & Furious. And it’s especially disappointing because the potential is right there for an interesting sibling dynamic to contrast that of Billy and his brothers and sisters.
However, this sequel at least understands that there’s a fun sandpit to play in for the central family, who all continue to enjoy riffing off each other and elevating a lot of expositional dialogue through endearing performances. Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer and Adam Brody) is the highlight, as his immediate crush on Zegler’s character taps into the heart of male coming-of-age and how to process such feelings. But the true MVP of this film is Djimon Honsou, who is hysterical as the last surviving member of the Council of Wizards. He slices through the archetype of the wise old mentor with humour and style. It’s a huge credit to director David F Sandberg that he knows sequels don’t always need to be more serious and sombre – sometimes it works to simply keep things sweet.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is released nationwide on 17th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods here: