Shazam: Fury of the Gods

This sequel lacks the laughs and superpowers of the original.

It’s amazing to me that despite the fact that Billy Batson can switch back and forth from a human teen to an adult superhero by saying the words “Shazam,” he and his foster siblings and fellow superheroes still can’t figure out his superhero name. Isn’t it obvious? You say that word, and you’re that superhero. What more do you want tact on to this?

The first “Shazam” film from 2019 was a hilarious and warmhearted beginning for Zachary Levi’s latest iconic character, and for the young co-stars: Asher Angel (as the teenage Billy) and Jack Dylan Grazer (as his disabled superhero fanatic buddy Freddy). I went back to watch it, and I’m still entertained by how it kept its tones in balance. And it was surprising for us to know that when Shazam makes his siblings into superheroes, Adam Brody, for example, plays the superhero Freddy.

Now, we have “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” which is a real disappointment, considering the magic from its predecessor. It wants to make Billy learn the values of growing up and it wants to have Rachel Ziegler (“West Side Story”), Lucy Liu, and Helen Mirren playing the daughters of Atlas, but it all feels pushy, routine, and typical.

A few laughs or smiles come when teenager Freddy is disgusted by a tooth he finds in his prison cell after being stripped of his powers by the daughters of Atlas. Or when Shazam dreams of dating Wonder Woman (who begins being faceless like George Steinbrenner on “Seinfeld” and later appearing in the form of Gal Gadot), until the last remaining wizard (Djimon Hounsou), who was supposed to be dead, spoils his moment. He came back to warn him about the goddess who want revenge on humanity. That was kind of funny to me, but I hated how he has to damage his fingernail in order to send the warning message to him.

I’ve been curious about certain superhero/wizard/princess sequels being darker than their predecessors, while trying to mix some humor in there. There was “Batman Returns,” “Frozen II,” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” If I’m missing some, I’m sorry I can’t name everything. And now, we have “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” which wants to be more serious than funny. Sequels can have serious tones, but this one seems to be unfocused and convoluted with Shazam’s challenges of growing up and how the sisters have been ranged from good to evil. Ziegler’s Anthea has to be the crush of Freddy, Mirren’s Hespera has to be the authority figure, and Liu’s Kalypso has to be vein like Koba in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” I think you get the point. If not, on a scale of good to evil, Anthea>Hespera>Kalypso.

Being a Warner Bros. film, this sequel has to use IPs by making Billy wear a “Goonies” T-shirt, and using themes from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Harry Potter” and “Inception.” The kids update their lair with lights and TVs and so forth, they end up in a library with a magic pen that can shrug when asked a difficult question, and how one of the goddesses can shift buildings without permanently damaging them. Out of all of them, I actually really enjoyed the library scene.

Now, I think Levi and Grazer can expand their horizons, and I did video chats with them respectively during you know what. I was talking to Levi about his Flynn Rider voice role in “Tangled,” and Grazer is able to transcend from various genres. Look at his role in the scary “It” or his voice work in the delightful “Luca.” You need to have alternatives. Obviously, I can’t stop you from seeing this sequel, but if there is a third film, they better patch up their mistakes. And I knew Mark Strong’s Sivana would make a cameo appearance.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Categories: Action, Adventure, comedy, Crime, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Sequel, Thriller

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