The first “Shazam!” film starts in 1974. We meet a young Thaddeus Sivana played by Ethan Pugiotto, who is denied the opportunity to be the Champion mostly because his father believes him to be weak. When Thad grows up, he’s bitter and angry, working on the way to get back at the man who denied him happiness and the wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who stole his chance to show the world that he would be pure of heart if it were not for the family who created the darkness within him.
When the Champion is chosen, and it’s not him, the older Thad (Mark Strong), who now harnesses the powers of the Seven Deadly Sins, vows to return, pals in tow. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is chosen to be the next Champion. Throughout the film, he learns who and what he must be.
Billy still doesn’t know much about superheroes or himself in this sequel. Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) is there to keep him updated and assures Billy, who also hasn’t come up with a name for the alternate form of himself yet, that he is loved by all of Philly. Speaking of Philly, if you love your baseball team, you might want to look away during one scene. You’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, Billy isn’t appreciated by everyone. The scepter the wizard gave him was not his to give. The Daughters of Atlas are on their way to earth to retrieve it and avenge their father. The staff belonged to their family and they intend to make it so again rather than allowing children to play with it. They’re enchantingly wicked villains and though the sisters are after the same thing, they approach everything differently, as sisters generally do.
Helen Mirren plays the eldest named Hespera. Lucy Liu plays the “Jan Brady” of the bunch, Kalypso, and young Anthea, played by Rachel Zegler, is just young enough to lose track of what they’re there to do, falling for a member of the Shazam! group instead of keeping on track.
The movie starts with a scene similar to one we saw in the first “Shazam!” I’m sure it’s meant to put you in the mood and show you that Billy is powerful but still somewhat childish in his mannerisms and phrasing. This was all fun to watch in the first film, but you’d think with “Shazam! Fury of the Gods!” just the title alone would have given you a more significant, upgraded start. Almost immediately, we see that his family is still a fixed part of his life. This is good to show the younger viewers. That said, some of the filthy language was utterly unnecessary, adding nothing for older viewers, so why use it?
Levi is great as both Billy and his alter ego, the fighting is adequate and the storyline keeps you involved enough to want to see whose but kicks whom. I must admit to rooting for Mirren a few times, but she’s Mirren! How can you blame me?! Anyway, it’s worth checking out on the big screen. Luckily, you don’t need to know anything about the DC Universe to identify with the characters or comprehend the film.
OH! And there are two bonus scenes! A middle credit and a “stick around ‘til the very end” credit. That one points directly toward the fact that a third “Shazam!” could be on its way someday.
SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS
Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Writers: Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan
Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Meagan Goodwith, Djimon Hounsou, Rachel Zegler, with Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren
Run Time: 2h 10m
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Produced by: Peter Safran (“Aquaman,” “The Suicide Squad”).
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
What's your take?