Shazam character

"Shazam!: Fury of the Gods" is the sequel to the light-hearted, likable superhero "Shazam!" (the misfit orphan teen that acquired adult superhero powers after visiting a wizard's lair in the original). Asha Angel again plays Billy Batson as the kid and Zachary Levi as the Shazam incarnation. I loved the first "Shazam," but the sequel doesn't add anything new or special to the superhero genre.

The sequel falls short in terms of charm and coherence when compared to the original. The detachment between Billy and Shazam is apparent, and they fail to come across as a unified character, a defining feature of the first film. Despite attempting to go bigger and better, it loses the emotional depth that gave the original its heart. The sequel entirely abandons the childlike wonder that was unique and captivating previously.

Billy Batson is back with his fellow Philadelphia foster kids (to whom he gifted special powers) are having a hard time working together. The media ridicules them as they often fail to save the day or cause the city massive destruction. Shazam is dealing with internal conflict and struggling to accept if he deserves to be a superhero and the group leader. There's even a joke about how there's already a superhero with a red suit with a lightning bolt on it: the Flash.

The plot comes across as uninspired and unimaginative, revolving around the arrival of Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) – the daughters of Atlas – who have come to Earth to reclaim a magic staff stolen from them long ago that will restore their powers. They enclose the city of Philadelphia in a bubble, which the heroes have to try and save, and that's the setup.

Most of the appeal is Zachary Levi's performance as Shazam. He continues to portray this character with humor and sincerity. He makes mistakes, bumbles around, and gets things wrong, but he's also endearing and relatable. The rest of the cast does an admirable job with their roles, but Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) stole the show. His comedic performance is consistently hilarious, perfectly balancing awkward teenage clumsiness and extreme overconfidence. His comedy is interwoven with heartwarming and awkward moments, creating a pleasant balance. Throughout, he maintains his charming persona.

The legendary actresses Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu can't even save their uninteresting characters I had no investment in. They have incredibly weak motivations and one-dimensional personalities that carry no weight. There's nothing to invest in when it comes to an antagonistic force.

The central theme and focus on family is well executed, which felt like a nod to the "Fast and the Furious." Exploring not only through the lens of Billy and his foster family, as well as the other foster children in the household, but also through the perspective of the story's antagonists. It provides a variety of approaches to examining family dynamics, both positive and negative, with each character offering the possibility of some degree of redemption.

The story arc is entirely predictable, with most of the outcomes foreshadowed in advance. This may be partly due to the straightforward and linear nature of the story, which lacks complexity and surprises. The story feels pointless, as if there are no real consequences to the events that occur. It lacks any genuine emotional stakes. Towards the end of the third act, it tries tricking you into thinking there might be some, but almost immediately does an uno-reverse. At no point, I ever felt like the main characters were in danger.

"Fury of the Gods" is a mixed bag when it comes to special effects. Some looked impressive, such as the manipulation of matter causing city buildings to rearrange themselves, reminiscent of Doctor Strange in the MCU. Other effects were lacking, making them seem fake, almost like something out of a video game, which felt disconnected from the world of the film.

Like the original, a diverse range of humor is present, including jokes, physical comedy, and sarcastic remarks, all intermingled. While some aspects of the humor are amusing, there are instances where other elements fall flat and feel forced.

The direction wasn't as amusing or focused as the original, and the writing can be incredibly exposition heavy. The camera work lacks creativity and makes the movie feel basic. The kid version of Billy Batson felt like an afterthought compared to the first film, which felt like a healthy balance between the two. The snark and comedy primarily work, and the character dynamics build a cohesive and share-worthy set of characters.

While the story is uncomplicated and remarkably straightforward, the focus on family at the heart of the narrative is engaging and impactful. And there's a distracting amount of CGI. It doesn't quite catch lightning in the bottle this time around, but I’m sure superhero fans will enjoy this one.