"SHAZAM!" Imagine uttering those words and having superpowers bestowed upon you. Pretty cool right? Well, not so much for Billy Batson as he struggles to find a balance in his life between being a kid and being a superhero. This sequel ups the ante before the upcoming DC reboot (or whatever it's going by these days) but does it do enough to make James Gunn think twice about keeping the character around?

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his fellow foster kids are still learning how to juggle teenage life with their adult superhero alter egos. When a vengeful trio of ancient gods; Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler), arrive on Earth in search of the magic stolen from them long ago, Shazam (Zachary Levi) and his allies get thrust into a battle for their superpowers, their lives, and the fate of the world.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is certainly an enjoyable enough experience to sit through however, it definitely left me feeling frustrated at times and ultimately underwhelmed as the end credits rolled and the post credit scenes had played. The film opens with an incredibly dark sequence as Helen Mirren's Hespera and Lucy Liu's Kalypso lay waste to guests at a museum in Athens. Sadly though, the film never really manages to capture that essence again, even with the plan the Daughters of Atlas have in place.

I get this is a film about a group of kids who turn into superheroes so there's always going to be some playful moments, the only difference is that in the first film it felt an endearing part of the origin story. Here it just feels a little bit irritating at times, funny in small doses though mind. They manage to keep an emotional core to the film too, which worked so well in the first film, with Billy Batson trying to keep his foster family safe as well as trying to save the world. It doesn't quite hit the emotional level of the first film but it really does play into the action-packed finale incredibly well.

It's a real shame Christophe Beck's score gets lost in all the noise because a film that leans into mythology as much as this does could really do with a prominent and grand score that won't leave your head for days. To say it's overshadowed by something else altogether in the film is one of the major frustrations I had with the it.
Coming to the performances, Zachary Levi leads the film with the same charmingly playful charisma he possessed in the first film. It felt like there could have been more here for Asher Angel to sink his teeth into, especially considering how good he was in the first, yet he does really well with what little he gets to do here. The whole Shazamily play their part in the entertainment factor here but Jack Dylan Frazer is on another level serving as the film's beating heart with a very funny and emotional performance.

Then we have Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler as the Daughters of Atlas. Zegler continues to impress in the early days of her acting career with a empathic turn as Anthea while, on the other hand, Liu is clearly having a ball as the villain but feels far too one-note to be anything other than passable. Dame Helen Mirren isn't afraid to jump into a mega-franchise having turned up in the Fast & Furious films and she gets another chance to ham it up to the max here. Whether that is a good or bad thing will be at the viewer's discretion but I personally enjoyed it.

I can't deny there was a weird feeling heading into Shazam! Fury of the Gods down to the fact a future for the character wasn't amongst the DC slate announced recently by James Gunn. That being said, this is a fun time at the cinema that entertains and frustrates in equal measure.



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