Still trying to work out the kinks of being a team, Billy Batson and his family must protect the city once again against Atlas’ three daughters.
Despite being formulaic, the first Shazam! acted as a playful treat against the darker and more tonally confusing DCEU films. The childishness of the performances and basic approach to its themes were a breath of fresh air and Shazam! Fury of the Gods looks to recreate that success beat for beat. There is nothing new or inspiring about David F. Sandberg’s sequel but it just about achieves the same lightness and humour that the first did.
As much as this sequel tries to inject new elements to make it fresh it’s still unable to escape the Superhero template. There are devilish unicorns, wooden dragons and a mythical golden apple all added into the plot to make it sing but deep down there is nothing fresh being offered. In broader terms, much like the first film, this is about a group of colourful superheroes, with just enough personality to individualise them, facing off against a world-ending threat.
The threat in question are Atlas’ three daughters, who are trying to retrieve their powers back that were gifted to Billy. Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu play the older of the sisters, both enjoying the fantastical parts of their roles and offering an element of charisma to their one-dimensional characters. Rachel Zegler also does an admirable job as the third sister, but the performance that has always stood out in these films is the central performance from Zachary Levy.
While the film may be formulaic in every part it benefits from Levy’s genuine performance. His ability to capture the childishness of Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel not in Shazam form) while also donning the superhero look is regularly the reason this film achieves its humour and emotional beats. The humour certainly is important in a film like this but Levy, as well as co-star Jack Grazer, do well to really hit home the familiar themes.
Now Billy is an established member of his quirky and wholesome family his fear of losing them comes creeping in. It’s definitely a theme that has a familiar ring to it but does enough to earn the sweeter moments between all of them. Unlike Vin Diesel murmuring “family” under his breath in the Fast & Furious franchise every so often, Shazam! Fury of the Gods has an earnest quality that makes its themes much more heartwarming and relevant to its plot.
It’s highly likely that Shazam! Fury of the Gods will slowly fade in the memory as the Superhero genre becomes more and more saturated. But, its universal themes and consistent humour do just enough to reach the level of the first film. Even if the final battle is a city wide CGI-fest, if Zachary Levy is at the centre it is always worth watching.