The follow-up to 2019’s original, Shazam! Fury of the Gods continues the story of the now teenage Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who by uttering the magic word “shazam” transforms himself into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) with the unsurprisingly matching moniker.
The first iteration contained some intriguing comedic explorations into what it means to have near-limitless power with a limited maturity level, and it seems like the creative team used up all their thoughts on it in the first go-round.
Structurally, the Batson character is edging into adulthood, and there seems to be less and less of the original charm left to work with. The script is all over the place and overly dense with characters and minor subplots, leading inevitably to a tired final set piece which the rest of the film seems solely focused on getting us to. The finale is entertaining enough, but unfortunately, the path that gets us there has little to offer. The cast is almost as packed as the narrative is, with the talents of several great actors (Helen Mirren in particular) being put to unfortunately mediocre use.
It’s ultimately a tired formula for superhero movies, and by sticking to it, Shazam! Fury of the Gods loses the whimsy and freshness of the original film. PG-13, 130 min.