With its release a little delayed Shazam Fury of the Gods marks the end of the old DC universe and helms the start of Warners new era of superhero films under James Gunn & Peter Safran and this picks up with Billy Batson the boy (Asher Angel) and his grown up alter ego Shazam (Zachery Levi) safely settled in his Philadelphia foster home with his ‘Shazamily’ siblings having been gifted superpowers themselves. But from the start their nemesis will give them a run for their money. They are The Goddesses, the daughters of Atlas played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler, all sisters who are thousands of years old and yet Zegler is a fresh faced21 year old and Dame Helen is 77 years old meaning that their birth mother is surely eligible for some sort of Guinness world record title.
Livid with the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who has stolen the powers of Atlas and passed them on to the Shazamily they find their way from the god realm into our world, hell-bent on retrieving these powers. This second film broadens its focus far more to include the other kids /superheroes and edging Shazam out of the spotlight is Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy befriending Zegler who under the guise of being a student has wangled her way into his school and as a love interest for him though he’s unaware of who she really is. And whilst this goes on Mirren and Liu are after a magical staff that gives them all sort of powers and whilst Mirren mostly wields it Liu is able to overcome mere mortals by whispering in their ears with her victim’s eyes glazing over oblivious to life around them – in many ways it’s the same effect as accidently tuning your radio in to the Amanda Holden breakfast show.Inevitably it’s all down to the Shazamily, temporarily titled the Philly fiascos by the locals after their not so successful attempt at saving a massive suspended bridge in one of the earlier and most coherent set pieces.
The first film was immensely likeable with Levi encapsulating the man / child superhero well but here the cast is expanded and each vie for screen time pushing Shazam to almost supporting role level and at the same time Hounsou has even less to do. The charm of the first film is overwhelmed here by massive CGI set pieces and for the main stay suffers from the similar problem as many of the recent Marvel films where every setting would seem to be a green screen extravaganza.
Director David F Sandberg’s direction is as assured as ever and has thrown in plenty of Easter eggs that includes the Annabelle doll (he directed the second standalone devil doll film) and nods to Ray Harryhausen’s classic cyclops in the Sinbad films amongst very many others and an unexpected cameo ( although it has been leaked) that will prompt debate with regard to the future of another superhero in the DC canon. But Shazam Fury of the Gods, as hyper active, frenetic and monster packed as it is, is an oddly stodgy affair and the two end credit scenes which hint at where this might go will have its work cut out to regain the sheer infectious joy of the first film.
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Here’s the Shazam Fury of the Gods trailer…….