Since the ”Shazam! Fury of the Gods” release in 2023 it has reached fans everywhere. It is both a studio-produced sequel and a superhero film. Regardless of how one feels about the shockingly good “Shazam!”, one can expect a certain amount of creative committee-mandated, Mad Libs-like boredom. This 2019 franchise-creators, starters led by director David F. Sandberg, toned down the Troma Lite cynicism and post-Spielberg sentimentality that have come to characterize the lighthearted James Gunn-style super-projects that predominate the landscape.
The direction of “Shazam! Wrath of the Gods” meanders even more. Because it primarily centers on Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and Freddy Freeman, two little pipsqueaks, the first “Shazam!” succeeds as well as it does (Jack Dylan Grazer), who gets sucked into a generic fantasy, with some assistance from their extended family of orphan buddies. “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” mostly sticks to the comic book formula that the first movie poked fun at, despite another strong comedic performance from star Zachary Levi and some sporadic yuks throughout. It’s stickier and less assured than the first “Shazam!” but these leftovers still reheat well enough.
The Daughters of Atlas is a group of vengeful sorceresses commanded by Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu). They are the latest vengeful dangling plot thread that Billy, Freddy, and other members of their foster family must battle. They desire to exact revenge on their father, Atlas (not in this picture). There is a brief period of confusion around the third Daughter’s identity.
Billy’s worries are the loudest for the “Marvel Family”. Comic book readers refer to them, as a friendly group of tweens who, upon shouting the magic word “Shazam,” get superhuman abilities. But nobody seems to know who these youngsters are, not even the locals of Philadelphia, where the majority of “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is set. They call the Marvels the “Philly Fiascos,” apparently because you can’t find any in Philadelphia.
The ensemble cast of the film, especially the actors who portray the punchy, adult-aged demigods that Billy and his family transform into when they utter the magic phrase, finesses this type of pre-chewed humor to make it endearing. Adam Brody, who portrays “Super Freddy” (also known as Captain Marvel Jr., Elvis’ favorite super-hero), and Levi, who plays Billy’s alter-ego Shazam (also known as Captain Marvel), both stand out as teenagers coping with burdensome adult emotions and responsibilities. The film’s adult antagonists aren’t particularly memorable, but Mirren nevertheless grinned like a pro.
There are signs of a warmer and cleverer adolescent super-drama throughout “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” Clearly enunciated and frantically declaimed dialogue hints at Billy’s prevailing fear of “aging out of” his family. Especially now that he’s about to turn 18 years old. His other family members also have lives to live. But, we only catch glimpses of them whenever the plot stalls long enough to highlight likable but underdeveloped supporting characters. For example, unicorn-loving Darla (Faithe Herman) or the closeted Pedro (Jovan Armand). Both graze the heartstrings with focus-group-level efficiency.