A few years on from the first movie, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his still-unnamed superhero alter-ego (Zachary Levi) is proving a bit hit-and-miss at heroism. Even with his adopted siblings all powered-up and helping out, he feels like he’s not quite living up to his potential – and he’ll need all the power he can get to defeat the Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu), who have stolen the Wizard’s staff and plan to use it to – what else? – destroy humanity.
The family dynamics work beautifully, and seeing a bunch of hench adult superheroes hanging out in the lair-ified Rock of Eternity bickering like kids is always a joy. The film’s action scenes are all well-executed, finding room for character and humour in amongst the thrills.
Where the film falls down compared to its predecessor is in the sidelining of all the younger actors, with the exception of Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy. Asher Angel is barely seen as Billy, so when Levi’s Billy worries about aging out of the foster system the emotional beat doesn’t really land because we haven’t seen enough of young Billy. Levi is also now playing a 17-year-old rather than a 14-year-old, and so some of the childish charm of his performance is inevitably lost.
Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu get a wonderful introduction, in which director David F Sandberg once again indulges his horror inclinations, and Mirren is great, but Liu is left with frustratingly little to do. Rachel Zegler is a nice addition, but is mainly reduced to being Freddy’s love interest. Adam Brody remains an absolutely genius bit of casting as Freddy’s superhero alter-ego, and as before the two of them are responsible for most of the film’s humour and heart.
This is a fun, family-friendly superhero film – still set firmly within the DCEU – that has all the action and laughs you’d want, even if the emotion is slightly lacking this time around.
Shazam! Fury Of The Gods is in cinemas from 17 March.