This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ross Butler, from left, Adam Brody, Grace Caroline Currey, Zachary Levi, Meagan Good, and D.J. Cotrona in a scene from “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” As with many sequels, the filmmakers have upped the ante by adding more of everything: more action, more villains, more monsters, and even more star wattage with the addition of Oscar winner Helen Mirren. But unfortunately, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” falls short in one key area: charm. While the original was breezily funny and fresh, the sequel directed by David F. Sandberg feels less so and less fleet of foot. Clocking in at two hours and 10 minutes, it’s actually two minutes shorter than the original, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
However, there are some redeeming factors, including the goofy and frenetic efforts of Zachary Levi as he portrays a youngster in an adult superhero body. Jack Dylan Grazer also shines as the fast-talking, always-thinking best friend and foster brother Freddy, who this time around has a love interest in the appealing Rachel Zegler. Moreover, the film smartly drops the colorless villain Dr. Thaddeus So is still in a lonely cell.
For those who need a plot refresher, we’re back in Philadelphia with teen hero Billy Batson, who was bestowed with magic powers by a wizard in the original film. In this installment, Billy’s foster siblings have joined him in the superhero biz, but things aren’t going smoothly. The group, known as the “Philadelphia Fiascoes,” is still making youthful mistakes, deZieglertheir superpowers. And to make matters worse, there are three new villains to contend with: the ancient Daughters of Atlas, who have arrived in the human world to reclaim their stolen magic.
It turns out that the mythical staff of the gods, which Billy broke at the end of the first film, is in a museum. But when two of the daughters of Atlas, Hespera and Kalypso, show up ready to annihilate anyone in their way, chaos ensues. Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu add some real mean goddess vibe to the proceedings, and the action is laden with CGI battles.
As always, the best moments of “Shazam!” and its sequel involve the overlap between teen-human and superhero life. The teen-designed secret lair, complete with all the Skittles and other junk food anyone would want (Skittles even play a key role at one point), is a standout. We also learn what’s currently occupying each of the siblings, including Mary, who studies organic chemistry for fun, and Freddy, who wants to forge his own identity.
But Billy, who was abandoned as a child by his parents, wants family unity at all costs. Mary tries to tell him that nothing lasts forever, but he refuses to listen. Meanwhile, the Daughters of Atlas, accompanied by a big old dragon and some other monsters, are on the warpath. And while two of the daughters wreak havoc, the third, who’s masquerading as human, takes a shine to Freddy, much to his disbelief.
Overall, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is a decent sequel that expands the universe of the original film. While it may lack some of the charm
By Mateo Feo