Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Stars: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Rachel Zegler, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou
The first Shazam! picture in which teenage orphan and fostered teenager Billy Batson, appealingly played by Asher Angel, was given the ability to transform himself into a hunky superhero by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard, was a fun superhero take on ‘Big’, as well as a welcome departure from the modish murk that characterised DC/Warner Bros’ output at that time.
This broader and brasher sequel continues more or less in the same vein, but some of the charm is lost in the din.
It starts promisingly enough with a prologue in Athens where we meet vengeful God sisters, Daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Mirren) and Kalypso (Liu) who have returned to seize an ancient artefact which will restore their powers. The portentous mood is amusingly undercut with the following scene in which Batson in superhero form (Levi) is on the couch at a therapy session which turns out to be at a paediatrician’s office, talking about his fear of abandonment and his imposter syndrome. Pay attention to the paediatrician’s shelf for a nice blink-and-you’ll-miss-it studio IP-related gag. Then, following a dinner with his foster family, Billy and his superhero foster siblings stage a spectacular rescue on a collapsing bridge. The special effects are variable this time around, but the technical team have really nailed the whole flying thing here.
Once our heroes have encountered the Daughters of Atlas, the picture gets bogged down in unnecessarily convoluted plotting and CGI clutter. Zachary Levi as the wide-eyed naïf hero still manages to raise a few laughs and the hero’s foster family are likable enough, even if they do feel a little more sanitised than the mildly disreputable bunch we encountered in the first picture. Mirren, as the chief antagonist plays it commendably straight, making her an ideal foil for Levi’s comic shtick: the sequence in which she reads aloud a verbatim letter from Billy is a comic highlight. A cameo from another character in the DC universe, which perversely had been revealed in the most recent trailer, is very much one of the lazy ‘turn up and that’ll be enough’ kind.
The picture has one mid-credits and one post-credits sequence.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is out 17th March
Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm
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