PLOT: After the events in the previous film, it appears Shazam has made a bit of a blunder. It’s a big enough of one to bring the Daughters of Atlas to unleash a little Hell on Earth.
REVIEW: One of the joys of David F. Sandberg’s Shazam was the filmmaker’s mix of humor with a touch of horror. The comedic superhero excelled with the laughs. As well as a few moments fitting of the director’s previous films, Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. And now, he is back with Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Zachary Levi is once again leading the charge. As is the rest of this charming cast. They include Grace Caroline Currey, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, and Faithe Herman for the young actors. And this time, we see much more of Meagan Goode, Adam Brody, DJ Cotrona, and Ross Butler, with Ms. Currey taking on the older and younger version. And if you want solid villains, you can’t do much better than Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler.
After giving all his foster brothers and sisters power from the Rock of Eternity, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) hoped to keep the family together. Unfortunately for him, his hopes didn’t become reality for the newfound superheroes. Most notable is the reckless attempts at heroism from Freddy (Adam Brody/Jack Dylan Grazer). With the group’s new powers, a strange energy has brought a little hell to Earth. The hell comes in the form of The Daughters of Atlas. Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) are Gods. And they’re more than a little peeved at the human’s misuse of power. And due to a mistake on the part of Shazam himself, they are here to do damage. The three sisters have plans to bring massive devastation to our planet as only Gods could do.
One of the best things about the first film is the young cast. Asher, Grazer, Currey, Herman, Chen, and Armand. The same is true here. Yet we also see how beautifully Brody, Cotrona, Good, Butler, and still Currey – she’s capable of handling both roles – adapt. Watching these characters take on to their superhero personas while offering childlike enthusiasm adds another level to this engaging adventure. Meagan Good brings on the charm by playing the “superhero Darla.” The actress gives such warmth and heart to her adult-size hero. It was easy to believe that Good and Herman were the same. However, the entire cast have a chance to shine. Even the foster parents, played by Marta Milans and Victor Vasquez add a lot of humor and heart.
Let’s get to the villainous Daughters of Atlas. First, anytime you can get Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu together, it’s undoubtedly a great idea. The two bring such gravitas and warmth to the characters. And by adding the lovely and talented Rachel Zegler, you have three well-developed baddies. It also helps that the screenwriters Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan have managed to write intelligent and engaging dialogue. The mix of humor and heartstrings isn’t limited to the heroes. The baddies have their reasons for doing their vicious deeds. And frankly, the stakes are much higher for our beloved planet Earth in this one. Much more is going on this time, yet it always follows strong storytelling and performances without skimping on the pure enjoyment of it.
If there’s a negative, it may be the abundance of CGI, and a few effects aren’t fully effective. Yet it’s a minor offense. For the most part, this brand-new adventure paints an impressive visual experience. For all your creature feature lovers, you’ll find a few fantastic beasties that terrorize humans in a fun genre way. That’s what is so charming about how Sandberg presents this tale of an unlikely superhuman; the horror element is always creeping in. Yet the director also understands that creating flesh and blood characters amps up the thrills without sacrificing the players involved. It’s challenging to bring together horror, comedy, and superhero action, but the filmmaker has a knack for that.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is better than the first. And yes, there’s a cameo that DC fans will celebrate… at least it was a joy for this viewer. Much like they did with the last film, they tease the inclusion of a famous character as they did in the previous movie. And this time, they get to follow through with it (if you want it spoiled – go ahead). Stay for the two post-credit scenes, as they feature yet another familiar face in this universe. In this summer of sequels, which I was dreading before, it’s impressive how good these films have been. And this latest Shazam flick proves there may still be life in some of the current DC characters. Along with whatever James Gunn will bring to the table, of course.
If you dug the first Shazam, you would appreciate a second round. Fury of the Gods is heartwarming in its portrayal of friendship and loyalty to family. The comedic elements work wonders inside the adventure. And did you see the dragon in the posters and trailers? The creature element only adds to the fun. And yes, Levi is still a perfect fit for Shazam! And he is even more comfortable with the conflicted character. Yet Sandberg’s impressive balance makes this superhero sequel an exciting ensemble work. I loved all those involved. Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a sequel that betters the already impressive origin tale. I am hopeful for a third.